Iran continues to make it difficult for the administration to mount an attack against it. Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency’s el jefe Mohamed ElBaradei handed in his report on Iran’s nuclear program. Reuters summed up:
“Iran’s uranium enrichment program is operating well below capacity and is far from producing nuclear fuel in significant amounts.”
In other words, a passing grade. A UN official who’d sent the report explained. “Iran made a fast start but then there was a leveling off. We don’t know the reasons, but the slow pace continues.”
In an interview with Der Spiegel, ElBaradei speculated why: “My gut feeling tells me that Iran has responded positively to my repeated demands that it scale back the program.”Sounds like he’s blowing his own horn, doesn’t he? But Bush & Co. have a vendetta against him and if he’s not going to watch out for himself, who is? They’re “furious with ElBaradei,” Gareth Porter explained Friday on Asia Times Online, “for taking the steam out of its campaign of pressure on Iran.”
Even the Washington Post got into the act with an editorial entitled “Rogue Regulator.” Rogue? Can’t a Noble laureate get some respect around here? “Mr. ElBaradei behaves as if he were independent” of the IAEA and the Security Council, the editorial reads, “free to ignore their decisions and to use his agency to thwart their leading members — above all the United States.”
Never one to leave well enough alone, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that three thousand of Iran’s centrifuges were happily cascading (separating the good uranium from the bad).
Turns out that, as usual, he was just trying to rally his base. According to ElBaradei, the figure is closer to 1,000. Though even 3,000, he maintains, isn’t enough to enrich uranium.
But the meager number of centrifuges serves a purpose. It allows Iran, never afraid to walk the razor’s edge of brinkmanship, to “appear responsive to ElBaradei’s pleas to slow down the program,” writes Porter. “Iranian willingness to. . . resolve all remaining issues on its past nuclear research by November was clearly aimed at moving the Iran nuclear dossier from the United Nations Security Council back to the IAEA and averting a military confrontation with the US.”
Bush & Co. fail to acknowledge the significant concessions they’re being offered. In effect they’ve won — it’s just that they’re hell-bent on unconditional surrender. The terms, of course, are complete abandonment of any pretense to uranium enrichment on Iran’s part.
Actually, even that comes in a poor second. The administration would just as soon Iran spin as many centrifuges as it can, thus shoring up its nuclear rationale for bombing Iran. After all, the other two legs of the justification tripod — that Iran supplies Iraqi insurgents with explosives as well as supporting anti-American terrorist organizations and militias in Iraq — are just as shaky as the nuclear.
If only, writes Kaveh Afrasiabi on Asia Times Online the same day, the administration would “think beyond hegemony.” But it will be a cold day in hell before not only the administration, but the American people, reconcile themselves to thinking of America as anything less than — drum roll please — the World’s Remaining Superpower.