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Topics: Barack Obama

Iran's end game against Obama for getting nuclear weapons

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Op-Eds,Barack Obama,Iran,Russia,Analysis,Middle East,Nuclear Weapons,Foreign Policy

Fordo is a tiny village in northeastern Iran, numbering less than 740 inhabitants. But over this next week it could replace Syria as the pivot point for American policy in the Middle East.

This is because in 2009 Western intelligence discovered the Fordo is the site of an enormous uranium plant carved out of a mountain side, which is steadily enriching enough uranium to give Iran the atomic weapon it claims it doesn't want, but which every knowledgeable person knows it's determined to get, and very possibly use, against Israel.

Now the prestigious German weekly Der Spiegel reports Iran's new president Hasan Rouhani is prepared to offer up Fordo as a part of larger deal in the talks he wants with President Obama at the United Nations.

According to unidentified intelligence officials, Rouhani will propose shutting down the Fordo plant, as well as open up the rest of Iran’s nuclear program to international inspectors, in exchange for an easing of economic sanctions against the Tehran regime.

Indeed, Iran’s foreign minister is supposed to outline the deal to the European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton this same week (it’s the EU’s sanctions that hurt Iran the most).

After watching Obama happily dance to Russian President Vladimir Putin's tune over chemical weapons in Syria, President Rouhani clearly thinks he can get Obama to dance to his over Iran's long effort to build a bomb.

And no one should be surprised if our president jumps at the chance to pass the buck on yet another sticky Middle East situation — and to let the media portray him as the man who once again halted the spread of a WMD program without resorting to force.

But there are at least three good reasons why any deal with Rouhani should get a very hard cold shoulder.

First, control over Iran’s nuclear program doesn’t belong to him but to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini. Any talks with Rouhani over the program’s future are only so much hot air, as are any promises to close down any plant or open any others to U.N. inspectors.

That raises the second point. Although the West has obsessed about the Fordo plant since its discovery in 2009, Tehran doesn’t need it to finish its bomb-making. There are at least two enrichment sites working overtime that we know about, and probably others we don’t.

In addition, there’s the nuclear reactor at Bushehr that expects to be working at full capacity before the year is out, where spent uranium fuel rods contain enough plutonium for any bomb.

A reactor like Bushehr can produce up to 645 pounds of plutonium a year; and just 220 pounds is enough to create 24 Nagasaki-style atom bombs.

Under a previous deal with Obama, Russia is supposed to keep track of those spent rods.

But Tehran has yanked those rods on their own before — and any deal that leaves supervision of a crucial part of Iran’s nuclear efforts to the Russians, is worse than no deal at all.

Finally, it’s true the West’s sanctions against Iran have hurt, and both Rouhani and Khameini are desperate to ease them. But both men know the most effective way to end the sanctions is to complete the program and get a bomb. Then the entire rationale for sanctions collapses.

European countries like France and Germany (which originally contracted to build the Bushehr plant) will be relieved rather than otherwise to resume doing business with Iran in exchange for its oil.

In short, the Iranians are playing the same game North Korea did in the 1990's, of getting a gullible West hung up on issues of inspectors and closing and opening particular sites, while the bomb program forges ahead in secret.

And with Obama they figure they have a president who is ready to bite. With Iran’s influencing growing daily in Syria, again thanks to Obama’s inaction, a nuclear armed Iran will be more dangerous than ever.

Instead America and the West need to say no to Rouhani, and no deal to any deal on Fordo.

Arthur Herman's "Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II," is now available in paperback. He is currently working on a biography of Gen. Douglas MacArthur and, among numerous other works, authored "How the Scots Invented the Modern World."
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