The New York Times reports:

Less than two weeks after its diplomats meet on Monday with those of the United States and five other major powers in Moscow, Iran faces the imposition of a potentially crippling European oil embargo and American banking sanctions.

Whether choking off Iran’s main source of revenue will persuade Tehran to accept a deal that curbs its nuclear ambitions is the critical question at these talks, which follow inconclusive meetings in Baghdad and Istanbul.

Administration officials and outside experts are loath to make a prediction.

There is little patience in Congress for further Iranian stalling. In a memo to his colleagues dated June 12, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) argued that “unless during talks in Moscow next week Iran agrees to 1) halt all uranium enrichment at all levels, 2) remove all material that has been enriched from Iran, and 3) dismantle the regime’s underground nuclear bunker in Qom, the House and Senate should immediately move forward with negotiations over a final Iran sanctions law — incorporating new, tough and bipartisan sanctions proposals — that can be sent to the President’s desk before the August recess.”

Kirk argued that time is limited. Iran’s uranium enrichment is accelerating, there is evidence of a nuclear spill and clean-up at the Parchin site and the regime asserts a “right” to 20 percent enrichment. This “right” is invented out of thin air. Kirk noted, “In fact, Iran has no such right under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

Kirk is correct on all of these facts, but you have to wonder what sanctions imposed at this late date could even accomplish anything. Are they sufficient to cut off the Iranian nuclear weapons program, or has the sanctions’ timeframe been outpaced by the Iranian nuclear program? Even if the sanctions are imposed, Iran will no doubt continue to move forward with its nuclear weaponization for some time, “contemplating” a response and haggling with gullible diplomats along the way.

This has been the flaw in the sanctions approach, which has moved at a glacial pace. Iran at this point is so far down the road, sanctions may be a moot point. The Israelis, we know, will act before the Iranian program moves into a “zone of immunity” when Israeli military capabilities may no longer be sufficient to take out Iran’s weapons program.

We should, of course, move forward on sanctions insofar as they may undermine the current regime and push segments of the population in the country to align themselves with the Green Movement. But as for the nuclear weapons program, for all intents and purposes we are now down to four choices: 1) Iran capitulates, subject to unfettered inspection and verification; 2) Israel acts militarily; 3) the U.S. acts; or 4) Obama accepts a nuclear-armed Iran, which he has dubbed “unacceptable.” The administration swears up and down No. 4 is off the table. In a couple of day I strongly suspect No. 1 won’t come to pass. So that leaves Israel or the U.S. to act in defense of the international community’s multiple resolutions and as guarantor of the West’s security.

Given Obama’s refusal to act forcefully against Iran’s weaker, non-nuclear armed ally Syria, I strongly suspect it will be up to Israel. That would be a pitiful result of a lackadaisical American approach to our primary security threat and the ignominious end to “leading from behind.” Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, but at this point that certainly seems like the most likely outcome.