ike back-winding in a sailing race, Iran has gotten ahead of the United States and its allies that met for the nuclear talks in Geneva Thursday. Iran pulled a rabbit out of the diplomatic hat in the form of a self-disclosure to the International Atomic Energy Agency about a second uranium-enrichment plant in Qom.
On the surface, President Obama and other leaders of the G-20 group of major economic countries meeting recently in Pittsburgh seized on this revelation to mount timely new pressure on Iran. Mr. Obama went so far as claiming that the Qom site’s “configuration” indicates it is for military purposes. Iran’s initiative seemed to have all but backfired on it, as manna from heaven for the “P5 + 1” nations – permanent U.N. Security Council members Britain, France, Russia, China and the U.S. plus Germany – that are pondering fresh sanctions on Iran in case the Geneva talk fails.
Yet Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s air of certainty – that the disclosure about the “hidden site” will add to the pressure on Iranians at the talk to “come out clean” on their nuclear program – may prove premature. More than anything, this is leverage for Iran to the detriment of Western strategy, for several reasons. [continued…]