In what U.S. President Barack Obama termed a “constructive beginning,” the Iranian government has agreed to give up most of its enriched uranium to Russia and to let international inspectors visit the newly disclosed uranium-enrichment facility in Qom within two weeks. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also hailed the talks as constructive because they “opened the door” to potential progress.
Optimism about the talks is not universal, however. John Bolton, former U.S. representative to the United Nations, thinks Tehran simply is stalling for time as it continues its nuclear drive. Similarly, Senator Joe Lieberman urges the Obama Administration to get tougher on Iran despite the recent thaw.
Lost in the flood of post-meeting analysis is that Iran’s scientific program is already within measurable distance of the ability to weaponize its nuclear capacity. Accordingly, Western powers need to consider how much more they can wait before imposing harsh sanctions against Tehran – or possibly resorting to even more drastic steps.