Today Iranian Foreign Minister Manochehr Mottaki publicly rejected the U.N.-backed proposal to send about 70 percent of Iran’s known supplies of enriched uranium out of the country. Mottaki suggested that instead Iran would exchange its low-enriched uranium for an equivalent amount of slightly higher enriched uranium, but only on its own territory. This clearly would be unacceptable since it would put Iran closer, rather than slightly farther away from, acquiring sufficient quantities of enriched uranium to build a nuclear weapon, if the uranium were to be further enriched.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner recognized this reality and said that he was disappointed that “There is a clear and negative response from the Iranians.” But there has been no public reaction from the Obama Administration yet. Although the talks have focused on a side issue of what to do about Iran’s stocks of enriched uranium, even if a temporary solution was found to address this issue, Tehran adamantly rejects any halt in its uranium enrichment efforts and continues to stonewall IAEA efforts to find out more about its suspect nuclear activities.
Despite Tehran’s repeated failure to meet deadlines for an acceptable diplomatic resolution of the problem, there are bound to be yet more calls for the Administration to bend over backwards once again and allow Iran to buy more time for its nuclear program. This would be a grave error. It is time to accept Iran’s “no” as a “no” and not become bogged down in endless diplomatic haggling on peripheral issues as Iran runs out the clock. But unfortunately, the Obama Administration is not likely to admit anytime soon that its engagement policy with Iran has failed.