Mona Charen

Welcoming the leaders of 47 nations to Washington to discuss what he called "an unprecedented threat," President Obama described in ominous terms the potential for nuclear terrorism. "Just the smallest amount of plutonium -- about the size of an apple -- could kill and injure hundreds of thousands of innocent people." The possibility that a terrorist group could get its hands on a nuclear weapon is, the president added, "the single biggest threat to U.S. security, both short term, medium term and long term."

At the conclusion of the conference, when everyone had agreed to voluntary measures to secure loose nukes, the president pronounced himself very satisfied and confident that the world will make "enormous progress" on controlling nuclear proliferation.

Talk about whistling past the graveyard! The administration assembled an elaborate tableau to feign progress on nuclear proliferation while patently failing to grapple with the most obvious, ominous, and imminent threat -- Iran.

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Let's assume that Obama was sincere when he described a nuke in the hands of a terrorist as the greatest threat facing the United States. How does he imagine that threat might materialize? Participants in the "nuclear security summit" blathered on about securing nuclear materials and monitoring uranium and plutonium supplies. That's nice. But the likeliest route for a terrorist to obtain a nuclear bomb would be for a nuclear-armed Iran to simply hand it over. And Iran is enriching its own uranium. That's what all those centrifuges at Natanz and elsewhere are spinning away at.

For decades, diplomats and policymakers have comforted themselves with the belief that Iran is a normal, status quo state rather than an ideological, revolutionary power. The Carter administration made repeated efforts to conciliate Iran. Shortly after the revolution, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance expressed his eagerness to "combat the mistrust" between the two nations. Even after the Iranians had flagrantly violated sacrosanct diplomatic traditions by seizing and holding American embassy personnel, the Carter administration extended diplomatic feelers, designating Ramsey Clark and William Miller to approach the mullahs. They flew to Turkey, but were denied permission to enter Iran.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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