Obama Administration: Calling All Nuclear Criminals

By now it is clear that further conversation with the mullahs will not change their minds. The only conclusion that fits known facts is that they have been conducting a covert nuclear weapons program for about two decades, and they are not about to stop just because President Obama is being nice to them. So the only point of talking with the Iranian leadership is to demonstrate good faith and eliminate the opposition of other nations to taking tougher measures when negotiations with Tehran inevitably fail. Last week, Moscow said it was in favor of dialogue with, and against sanctions on, Tehran. Presumably the Obama administration thinks, by agreeing to talk with Tehran now, it can win Russia’s cooperation later.

That, however, is an optimistic assessment of the Kremlin. Russian leaders, unfortunately, are not opposed to the Iranian nuclear program. They apparently believe the real villains in the world are American hegemonists, and they are willing to support Iranian theocrats, Venezuelan thugs, or Central Asian tyrants (i.e., anyone opposing Washington at the moment).

Washington is, unfortunately, seeing the world the way it wants it to be. Ever since Ronald Reagan left office, American policymakers have believed that great powers could cooperate and settle the affairs of the world. Yet the failure of Russia and China to effectively oppose the nuclear ambitions of the Iranians demonstrates that this hopeful theory does not work in practice. If the Russians and the Chinese won’t withdraw their support for the mullahs, who have vowed to incinerate Israel and destroy the United States, how do we expect them to help on other matters where the lines are not so clear?

And that brings us back to North Korea. Moscow and Beijing are participants in the six-party talks -- indeed, the Chinese sponsor these negotiations, which began in August 2003. For six years, China, the maestro of the discussions, has promoted dialogue but blocked solutions, thereby giving Pyongyang the time to develop and test its nuclear devices. Washington’s Friday offer to talk bilaterally would make sense if the Obama administration wanted to cut out the unhelpful Chinese and Russians, but that is not its strategy. The State Department, while extending the offer of one-to-one dialogue, said the purpose of the proposed bilateral discussions is to encourage the North Koreans to return to the six-party deliberations -- and America’s diplomats meant it.

This spring, the Obama administration, in a moment of clarity, said it wanted to “break the cycle” of long negotiations and broken agreements with Pyongyang. But its resolve did not last long. The White House now hopes to talk to Kim Jong Il’s abhorrent state and start the long process of negotiations over again. We have seen how North Koreans always get the better of Americans at talks -- the Iranians learned their stalling tactics from Chairman Kim -- and we are about to witness a new chapter of failure at the bargaining table.