Obama's Coming Choice on Iran; Election Politics Increase Likelihood of Israeli Strike on Nuke Program
Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The buzz around a possible military strike on Iran's nuclear program has shifted from whether it will happen to when and how. Events are conspiring to force choices on President Obama that he would rather avoid.
On Wednesday, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who had met the previous day with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, said that there is understanding and agreement that Iran must be prevented from getting a nuclear weapon. This has been the stated policy of the United States for many years. In his most recent State of the Union address, Mr. Obama reiterated that America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal.
Unfortunately, the types of options that could credibly dissuade Tehran from this course of action are dwindling. The European Union is phasing in an Iranian oil boycott, though this affects just 20 percent of the Islamic republic's oil, which could be shifted to China and India. On Monday, the White House released an executive order freezing all of Tehran's assets in the United States. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast responded that this move was largely symbolic because Iran does not have any financial transactions with the United States.
Washington has sent conflicting messages about the urgency of the nuclear issue. Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. recently told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the U.S. believes Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons, in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so. …