Mahmoud Ahmadinejad put on a predictable show at the U.N. conference on Monday, claiming the U.S. is actively threatening the world with nuclear aggression. But circumstances surrounding that show have changed, and it’s not for the better.
Ahmadinejad has even less room to deny that his country was actively pursuing nuclear weapons, as opposed to nuclear energy. After the London Times broke the neutron initiator story last year, it became even undeniable to all but the most adamant pacifists.
Just yesterday, news broke that Ahmadinejad visited Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe on his way to the New York conference. It’s possible Ahmadinejad and Mugabe were simply chatting about their favorite methods of torturing dissidents. But Fox News reported that is was possible that Ahmadinejad was making a deal with Mugabe – Iran would give Zimbabwe oil in exchange for their precious uranium ore. You don’t use that stuff to clean your toilet.
The only question that remains, then, is what the U.S. is going to do now. When Ahmadinejad gave his speech at the the U.N. conference on Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave an admirable rebuttal. But her State Department just as hastily issued visas for Ahmadinejad and his posse to come back to the United States next week to engage in another meeting about nuclear proliferation.
“There are two schools of thought,” said Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “One that says because the UN is here in New York, we have to afford every head of state the opportunity to come... The other school of thought is: if Hitler came to the US before World War II, and we would have known what he was going to do, would we have ever let him leave?”
The Obama administration, as did administrations before it, is clearly going with the former strategy. But Obama is actually headlining his nuclear efforts at the U.N. conference next week, which means he is making a tacit endorsement of Ahmadinejad participation in nuclear negotiations while at the same time deciding on the best way to sanction him.
“Any strategy of engagement with this regime is bound to end in failure,” said Nile Gardiner, director of The Heritage Foundation's Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom. “We’ve seen this time and time again throughout history.”