Has Obama given up on halting Iran?

Signs say yes, analysts tell Post; source close to PM: Situation is "not so terrible."

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May 20, 2009 00:52
3 minute read.
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obama exactly 248.88 ap. (photo credit: AP [file])

There are growing indications that the US has come to terms with a nuclear-armed Teheran, two analysts told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. "The Americans are in a state of mind according to which Iran has already gone nuclear," said Dr. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan's Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. Kedar, who served in Military Intelligence for 25 years, said US President Barack Obama was "at peace" with the idea of a nuclear Iran. "You can tell from how the Americans talk. Look at how [US special envoy] George Mitchell talks, or how Obama talks. I don't see them being pressured by this threat. They have shown no urgent desire to change this reality," he added. "Obama has given up," Kedar said. The result is that the US and Israel have only "small things to talk about," mainly the Palestinian track. "Netanyahu doesn't want to talk about the Palestinians. He wants to talk about Iran. But Obama does not see the bigger problem," Kedar said. The June 7 legislative vote in Lebanon could serve as a "wake-up call" for Obama, he added, since "after these elections, the Hizbullah coalition could be the largest in the country. Very quickly, Hizbullah could change the constitution to turn Lebanon into a Hizbullah state" - a development Kedar said might cause Lebanon to split off into smaller polities as other sects opt out of the country. This would be an unmistakable sign of Iran's growing influence in the region. "If this happens, the Americans could wake up," he said. Emily Landau, director of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies, also believes there are a growing number of "hints" suggesting that Washington has come to terms with a nuclear Iran. "There are implicit indications that it might be going in that direction," she said. "Even at the official level, [US Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton is on record as saying that the chances of success for negotiations with Iran are very small. If you're going into negotiations which you say ahead of time will likely fail, you're giving the sense that you might not be doing everything possible [to stop the Iranian nuclear program]," Landau said. "The US administration is projecting some kind of sense that they're not taking these negotiations seriously enough. If they just go through the motions, but they don't believe talks will succeed, that is worrisome," she said. Landau said she was disturbed that Obama appeared to view negotiations and sanctions as alternative policies, when in fact they needed to go together. "In order to get Iran to be serious, you have to pressure it, and it must feel that the status quo is not more valuable than a negotiated settlement," she said. "I don't see that understanding in the Obama administration." A source close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took a more optimistic view, citing a recent interview with Obama in Newsweek that quoted him as saying he was not taking any options off the table on Iran, as a hopeful sign. "Before Sunday's meeting between Obama and Netanyahu, Obama would not put a time limit on talks with the Iranians. But what he said in effect on Sunday was that he was giving the talks six months. That's not so terrible," the source said. However, he acknowledged that Obama's deadline was double that of Israel's requested deadline of three months. Asked if America had come to terms with a nuclear Iran, the source said, "I don't think that appraisal is right." He added that those who "held too high an expectation for Sunday's meeting were disappointed. Those who thought Obama would change all his stances and give a two-month time limit were disappointed. But there was a change in Obama's stance - he has given the talks a deadline, until the end of the year."


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