A reminder that after you unclench your fist, you can still cross your fingers: Iran has backed out of a deal to export its enriched uranium to Russia, in exchange for purely civilian nuclear materials from France.
Time magazine detailed the potential deal yesterday, also reporting that President Obama “personally weighed in three times during secret, multiparty negotiations with the Iranians over the last four months.” Arguably, the U.S. president should not have been personally involved in talks that may have granted only a temporary halt to an Iranian nuclear bomb. On the other hand, buying even a couple of years would have been extremely valuable given the progress the Iranians have been making.
Now the deal apparently is off. As Power Line notes, Tehran is “nevertheless using the negotiations to claim that the Obama administration has acceded to its nuclear enrichment program.” Even worse, a reader at InstaPundit points out that these negotiations were under way during the post-election riots in Iran in June, when the White House took its sweet time in deciding to speak out against the Iranian government’s violence against people protesting against the regime and its vote manipulation.
Perhaps this double-crossing will steel the president to sign legislation that would bar companies that sell gasoline to Iran from doing business in the U.S. — a more targeted approach than the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, which to my knowledge has never been enforced. (Read more about the rationale behind gasoline sanctions here.)
The gasoline sanctions are one of the last chances to stop the Iranian bomb without military action. If nothing else, Tehran’s reneging on the uranium deal is certainly a teachable moment on the limits of negotiating with implacable partners.