When dealing with the Soviets and their nuclear aggression, President Ronald Reagan famously cited an old Russian proverb: “Trust, but verify.”
In his current dealings with Iran and its nuclear ambitions, President Obama seems to be forgetting about that second part. He’s asking Americans to trust a negotiating adversary who keeps trying to remind the world that it remains the same bad actor it was during the 1979 hostage crisis.
Nearly a year into the Obama administration’s nuclear negotiations with Iran, it becomes more and more apparent that the American people are watching a bad deal unfold as it gets hatched in their name. Several new and alarming hints have emerged in just the last few days that should make everyone suspicious.
One of them was the incredible and extremely provocative decision by Iranian officials to tweet out — as negotiations proceeded — a nine-point plan for annihilating Israel and making all of its Jews “return to their home countries.” In the world of international relations, this sort of plan is typically referred to as “ethnic cleansing.”
Meanwhile, Reuters reported on Saturday that Iran actually stepped up its nuclear enrichment activities while supposedly under an interim agreement not to do so. A leaked report from the International Atomic Energy Agency said that Iran has “been feeding natural uranium gas into a single so-called IR-5 centrifuge at a research facility” this year. This act does not signify an ebb in that nation’s nuclear ambitions — quite the contrary — and is almost certainly a violation of Iran’s interim agreement with Washington. Even so, the Obama administration has brushed it off, pointing out that the Iranians stopped doing it right after they were caught at it.
“We raised that issue with Iran as soon as the IAEA reported it,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki. “The Iranians have confirmed that they will not continue that activity as cited in the IAEA report, so it’s been resolved.” This is reminiscent of the husband who ends his affair right after his wife discovers it.
Meanwhile, Olli Heinonen, a Finnish former deputy chief of the IAEA, has charged that Iran might have as many as 5,000 modern IR-2 centrifuges for enriching uranium — five times what Iranian leaders have admitted they have.
Despite having promised cooperation with international nuclear monitors, Iran has repeatedly dragged its feet on giving inspectors access to important sites, and has refused to admit one of the IAEA’s inspectors, believed to be an American national. The IAEA, as Heinonen said in a conference call Tuesday, “is the only authority that can verify compliance.”
In short, Iran’s behavior is not that of a regime that cares much whether it is cooperating or keeping its word. Obama seems hell-bent on hammering out a deal with Iran — even if it means bypassing Congress to implement. Iran’s leaders, meanwhile, continue to remind the U.S. and the entire world that there is no reason to trust them.