Iran Not Nuclear Weapons Capable for "At Least a Year"
1:10 PM, Apr 14, 2010 • By GABRIEL SCHOENFELD
"Iran is not expected to be capable of producing nuclear weapons for at least a year, maybe more, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Tuesday,” reports Reuters, covering him from aboard a U.S. military aircraft en route to South America:
A year is not a long time. What are we doing in response?
A flying carpet full of Obama administration officials have been up on Capitol Hill today testifying about Iran before the Senate Armed Services Committee. One detects little sense of urgency.
Here, for example, is William J. Burns, Hillary Clinton’s under secretary for political affairs:
An Iranian reassessment of its nuclear plans would be wonderful news, but if it is not happening “overnight,” when is it expected to happen? Burns did not say. What he did says is that, in addition to ratcheting up the pressure in various ways, “we remain committed to meaningful engagement” with the leaders of Iran.
The clock is ticking.
The Pentagon, for its part, sounds positively rueful. A joint lamentation by Michèle Flournoy, under secretary for policy, and General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledges that “unfortunately, despite the President's genuine and extensive efforts at engagement, Iran has so far failed to respond constructively.”
Yet engagement, they continue, has not been all for naught: the administration’s “approach has been successful in demonstrating to the international community that it is Iran and not the United States that is standing in the way of dialogue.”
Perhaps, in some quarters—in Venezuela, say and/or among various Euro-Communists—that question was in doubt. It surely is still in doubt in just those quarters. But meanwhile the clock is still ticking. In fact, more than a year has been wasted on the predictable—and predicted—failure of engagement.
If Gates’s estimate of the timeframe before Iran has the bomb is even ballpark, President Obama has done the ayatollahs a favor that they are unlikely to repay in kind.