News and views on U.S.-Iran relations for December 7, 2010:

  • Commentary: J.E. Dyer, writing on Commentary’s Contentions blog, says that talks with Iran are futile and “the current process of negotiation and inspection is worse than irrelevant. It is counterproductive — because it gives Iran time.” Dyer describes Iran’s announcement that it is producing yellowcake from its uranium-processing facility as “pulling a ‘North Korea’” and argues that the costs of negotiations have gotten too high. He concludes, “Today the cost includes Iran’s posting all its biggest weapons-program triumphs after UN sanctions were first imposed. Ultimately, the cost is likely to be much higher.”
  • The Wall Street Journal: The WSJ’s hawkish editorial board opines that North Korea’s artillery bombardment of a South Korean island was a “barbarous” act and questions China’s role as Pyongyang’s “principal apologist, protector and enabler.” The editorial board raises the stakes, asking what role North Korea and China had in proliferating nuclear technology to Iran. The Chinese metals and metallurgy company LIMMT, a company sanctioned by the Bush administration for proliferation, is “perhaps the largest supplier of weapons of mass destruction to Iran,” according to former Manhattan D.A. Robert Morgenthau in accusations made last year. The Journal‘s editorial board writes that China “[pledges] good faith in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and materiel, especially to Iran,” but China is a major proliferator of nuclear technologies to both Iran and North Korea.
  • Washington Post: Jennifer Rubin writes up a letter by a group of Senators looking to push President Barack Obama to express the view, as an unnamed Senate staffer put it to Rubin, that “sanctions need to keep ratcheting up.” Written by Sens. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Joe Liberman (I-CT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bob Casey (D-PA), and later signed by Mark Kirk (R-IL) and John McCain (R-AZ) (as updated by Rubin), the letter says Iran “cannot be permitted to maintain any enrichment or reprocessing activities on its territory.” ‘No enrichment’ has widely been seen as a (long since violated) Israeli red line, while the U.S. under Obama has mentioned Iran’s rights to nuclear enrichment as an NPT signatory. Rubin comments: “Like Margaret Thatcher, these senators are warning the president not to go ‘wobbly.’ Let’s see if he listens.”
  • Commentary: Evelyn Gordon, blogging on Contentions, compares Iran with the Communist government of North Vietnam in the run-up to that war. While the U.S. seeks compromise with Iran now, and sought it with North Vietnam then, Gordon writes, the U.S.’s “opponents’ aim is often total victory.” She writes that with pressure on Iran more out in the open after WikiLeaks disclosures that show strong Arab hostility, Iran is returning to the negotiating table because it “feels pressured.” “So Iran, cognizant of the West’s weakness, has taken out the perfect insurance policy: as long as it’s talking, feeding the West’s hope for compromise, Western leaders will oppose both new sanctions and military action,” concludes Gordon. “And Tehran will be able to continue its march toward victory unimpeded.”