Marc A. Thiessen
Marc A. Thiessen
Opinion Writer

Sorry, Joe, most of Iran’s nuclear progress has come under Obama

Speaking in Atlanta Tuesday, Vice President Biden lashed out at the Bush administration for its failure to stop Iran’s drive toward a nuclear weapon. “When we took office, let me remind, there was virtually no international pressure on Iran,” Biden declared. “We were the problem. We were diplomatically isolated in the world, in the region, in Europe. . . . Today it is starkly, starkly different.”

The situation is starkly different today — but not in the way Biden suggests.

Marc A. Thiessen

A fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, Thiessen writes a weekly column for The Post.

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To begin , Biden’s statement was factually incorrect — the United States was not “diplomatically isolated” on Iran until he and President Obama arrived on the scene. Quite the opposite. In 2008 — the year before Obama took office — the Bush administration got the U.N. Security Council to approve its third round of sanctions on Iran, persuaded the European Union to impose new sanctions (including an assets freeze on Iran’s biggest bank), got the permanent five members of the Security Council plus Germany and Australia to agree to additional sanctions.

But since Biden is so proud of the increased “pressure” the Obama administration has put on Iran to stop its drive for the bomb, it’s fair to ask: What are the results of that increased pressure?

The fact is, the situation today is far worse than the one Obama and Biden inherited. As the American Enterprise Institute’s Maseh Zarif has ably documented (using data from the IAEA), the vast majority of Iran’s progress toward developing a nuclear weapon has come since the Obama-Biden administration took office. Consider these facts:

●Before Obama took office, Iran had enough low-enriched uranium to fuel one bomb after enriching to weapons grade. Today, Iran has enough low-enriched uranium to fuel at least four bombs.

●Before Obama took office, Iran had zero known centrifuges producing uranium enriched to 20 percent (which can be converted to nuclear weapons fuel in a short amount of time). Today, they have more than 1,000 centrifuges churning out this dangerous, near-bomb-grade material.

●Before Obama took office, Iran had no stockpiles of this higher enriched uranium. Today, Iran has 73.1 kilograms. (It needs just 85 kilograms for a bomb.)

●Before Obama took office, Iran needed months to make a dash to a bomb. Today, it could make that dash in a matter of weeks.

That’s not all. In December 2011, Iran’s deeply buried Fordow facility went operational and Iran is now producing near-bomb-grade uranium at this hardened facility. Iran has also more than doubled the number of centrifuges operating at its infamous Natanz facility — from 3,936 when Obama took office to 8,808 today. Moreover, in the past several years, Iran has expanded the development and testing of advanced solid-fueled ballistic missiles — so that when it does make the decision to make a dash for the bomb, it also can make a dash to deliver it as well.

The bottom line is this: The Iranian regime has developed a rapid nuclear weapons breakout capability on President Obama’s watch. Tehran has more centrifuges spinning, more feedstock for making bomb fuel and more hardened enrichment capabilities in place today than it did in January 2009 — which means that the Obama administration’s strategy to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons drive is failing miserably.

Biden argues that the “crippling” international pressure the Obama administration has imposed has forced Iran back to the negotiating table. But the Iranians are not negotiating because of pressure Obama has brought to bear on them. They have returned to the table because they recognize that the Obama administration’s goal, at least in the near-term, is not to stop them from obtaining a nuclear weapon — it is to stop Israel from striking their nuclear program before the November elections. That is a goal the mullahs share. So the Iranians will negotiate and give just enough to create the appearance of progress, which, they calculate, will allow Obama to stave off the attack neither of them want.

But make no mistake: Iran is determined to obtain a nuclear weapon. And the regime in Tehran has arguably made more progress toward this goal in the past three years under Obama than it has in the three decades since the Iranian Revolution.

So with all respect to Joe Biden, this administration’s record on Iran is not one he should be touting on the campaign trail. President Obama’s bold declarations notwithstanding, the oceans are still rising, the Earth has not healed, and Iran is closer than ever to building a nuclear bomb.

 
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