Iran’s brisk walk to a nuclear bomb

A nuclear facility in Isfahan, Iran, in a screengrab taken from video. Image: Reuters TV via REUTERS
A nuclear facility in Isfahan, Iran, in a screengrab taken from video. Image: Reuters TV via REUTERS

Summary

Biden is trying to hide that Tehran is trotting to a weapon at a pace of its choosing.

Iran keeps making substantial progress in its brisk walk to an atomic weapon, a United Nations report leaked Monday suggests, and what are they going to tell us next—that there’s gambling at Rick’s? Yet the Biden Administration wants to hide this scary truth from the world in this election year.

An International Atomic Energy Agency report has concluded that Iran has increased its stockpile of near-weapons-grade uranium to 142.1 kilograms—an increase of 20.6 kilograms since the IAEA’s last estimate in February. This will be enough for three warheads once Iran completes the technologically straightforward process of enriching its hoard to 90% from 60%.

We say “will" rather than “would" since there isn’t serious dispute that Iran intends to join the nuclear-weapons club. But one does need to include the caveat that this is only the enriched uranium the rest of the world knows about. Tehran for years has thwarted the IAEA’s best efforts to fully inspect the nuclear program the mullahs insist they don’t have—one of the great flaws in Barack Obama’s misbegotten 2015 nuclear deal.

You’d think the U.S. would want the IAEA news to be released to pressure the regime. But the Journal reports that the Biden Administration has asked European allies to avoid censuring Iran for these violations of the 2015 pact when the IAEA board meets in June.

Tehran’s nuclear progress has become so alarming it worries France and the United Kingdom, which were enthusiastic participants in the Obama negotiations. But the Administration wants to disguise the truth in order not to provoke Iran by challenging the mullahs on their nuclear program. The White House doesn’t want another new international crisis before the November election.

But what is it that the U.S. fears? That Iran unbound could arm Hamas and Hezbollah to launch genocidal attacks on Israel, or could launch its first-ever direct missile strike against that American ally? That Tehran could arm the Houthi fighters in Yemen as they disrupt global shipping through the Red Sea? Or that the mullahs could send missiles and drones to Russia for use in Ukraine? Or give Shiite militias the green light to attack U.S. troops in Syria, Iraq and Jordan?

Iran has already done all of that in the last year, nuclear censure or no. Downplaying Iran’s nuclear progress doesn’t make the problem go away. President Biden claimed to be better at foreign policy than Donald Trump, who withdrew from the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran, a pact that faced consistent, bipartisan opposition in Congress. But Mr. Biden’s strategy, if you can call it that, is to let Tehran escalate, escalate and escalate, and then appease, appease and appease.

The significance of the IAEA’s latest report is that while Mr. Biden stalls until November, Tehran won’t. Expect the pace of enrichment to continue. The next Administration, whether led by Mr. Biden or someone else, will inherit an emboldened Iran with more enriched uranium on hand.

One of the Obama pact’s most serious flaws was that it left Tehran free to sprint to a bomb when the deal expired. Thanks to the Biden Administration, the mullahs may now not even need to break a sweat as President Biden allows them to trot toward a nuclear weapon at a pace of their choosing.

Iran’s regime is richer than it was when Mr. Biden took office and stopped enforcing sanctions; more aggressive than it was as Mr. Biden has failed to respond to its terrorism; and much closer to having a nuclear weapon. It’s hard to imagine a more complete policy failure.

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