The Ayatollah has told Ahmadinejad to say this is no violation. The puppet president complies. The real power in Iran obviously prefers the focus be on the recent unrest due to his nation's presidential election, but Obama has outplayed him. Even though the Iranian president says it would be a mistake to think they have not complied with all international bodies of law, Obama has placed Iran in a political position where they must now allow inspectors to examine the site in question or face economic sanctions by the international community.
For now, Obama has forced Iran's hand.
Typically, and without any sensitivity to their situation, Iran remains defiant. Ahmadinejad looks increasingly foolish.
According to David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security: "Iran has said many times publicly that it has revealed everything to the IAEA, everything is known, and yet here you have a very important nuclear site that was not known to the IAEA and appears to only have been revealed to the IAEA by Iran after Iran was caught building it....one hopes that the intelligence information is truly solid. And then, if Iran does not cooperate with the inspectors, they're going to be in a far worse political position.
"Because it's one thing for the world, the international community, other nations to look and decide, is Iran going to build nuclear weapons in the future? They're much less interested in that. But they're always very concerned if a country refuses to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to do their job when it concerns a facility that could be used to make nuclear weapons.
"And so if Iran doesn't come clean with this facility by letting the inspectors in, I think it's going to face a very hard time fighting off sanctions."
In an impressive use of US power, Obama proved his understanding of global strategic flash points by pulling some missiles interceptors away from Russia and probably securely sharing some American satellite intelligence that clearly shows Iran is building a weapons grade nuclear reactor.
When you talk about nuclear warheads, the world still listens.
Significantly, unlike W. Bush, Obama waited to form the basis for a genuine coalition that includes France, Russia, and China before using the data the US had in hand. Instead of acting unilaterally, as Bush did, Obama chose to be more inclusive, to respect the importance of our allies in what was apparently a series of close door meetings with key officials. Information was exchanged, ideas were sought, and although there is still much work to be done regarding cooperation with Russia and China, they are not alienated the way they were by the Bush administration.
Obama has made a brilliant chess move by setting this up months ago. He understands the game of international patience much more than did W. Bush. But, to his credit, it does look like Bush had the "Axis of Evil" thing down pretty well in terms of global (rather than merely regional) flash points for possible human conflict. The context for this "axis" is so much better with Obama at the helm, however.
Deceit revealed on the international stage officially does damage to the political credibility of the country involved. This is basic diplomacy. Obama has been forthright and honest no matter how much Iran cries "ouch, foul, no fair...see? It's nothing." Obama has shown good faith by favoring Russia with the strategic decision on the missile interceptors in Poland. Now it is Russia's turn to show good faith. And surely China does not wish the remain alone of the great world powers to not clearly insist that honesty about nuclear intentions has no compromise.
Obama set all this up by playing off the rather predictable Ahmandinejad. Now, the inspection will happen and Iran will confirm that the grade of uranium produced will not be weapons grade at all and this will become the next stage of the debate. Is the reactor truly capable of producing weapons grade uranium even if it isn't being built specifically for that? Obama must hope that the international answer to that question is "yes it could." Because if it turns out to be "no it can't" the whole incident of not declaring the existence of the plant becomes murkier. And Obama could actually regret he ever mentioned the damn thing.
Hopefully, that will not be the case. At any rate, history will show that in this moment Obama was bold and took a calculated risk. As David Brooks put it last night: "But what struck me was, you don't write that check. You don't go into this level of urgency and even ultimatum, as Sarkozy did especially, unless you can cash that check, unless there's something behind that check.
"So, basically, today they made a bunch of threats, and so that made me think why -- what do we have in their pockets that makes them feel comfortable making these threats? And basically, it suggests to me that somewhere in the creation of a new sanctions regime, they've got something.
"And it suggests to me that, in the past week, the Russians have dropped hints that they would be supporting the sanctions. I have trouble believing they would have gone to such a level of urgency unless those hints were somehow real, because they have to be able to cash these checks. They've basically made an ultimatum."