The NAM attendees, however, listened to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon lecture the Iranians, with President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad present, about obeying U.N. Security Council resolutions. That has had some effect. For example, India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, while supporting the Iranian right to enrichment, said that Tehran, as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, should not develop nuclear weapons.
With the U.S. presidential campaign underway, it’s clear that the White House could not offer any concession toward Iran — short of a full regime change in Tehran, that is — before November. A senior Obama official said last week that Iran using the 20 percent enriched uranium for fuel fabrication “will help justify its claim that it needs to produce even larger quantities in the future for its planned construction of four or five light-water research reactors.
“One day, they will make up an excuse to produce 90 percent for sub[marine propulsion] reactor fuel or isotope production,” he said.
I would not be surprised if congressional Republicans try to take advantage of the negotiation pause and, taking a cue from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, introduce a resolution authorizing President Obama to use force if Iran does not halt its uranium enrichment.
In early October 2002, a month before that year’s congressional elections, there was a Republican-drafted resolution in the GOP-controlled House that authorized the use of U.S. armed forces to enforce “all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.”
After it passed the House and before the Democratic-led Senate voted, President George W. Bush made supporting the resolution an election issue, and a modified version passed. That paved the way for the March 2003 attack on Iraq.
Will history repeat itself before Nov. 6?
For previous Fine Print columns, go to washingtonpost.com/fedpage.