In the Netherlands this week, President Barack Obama confessed a fear: "I continue to be much more concerned, when it comes to our security, with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan."
It would be reassuring to think that the president worries about this (when he's not busy filling out his NCAA brackets), except that he is failing to do the most important thing to prevent such a catastrophe.
The president was speaking at a meeting of the Nuclear Security Summit, a conclave of nations that agree to certain worthy actions, such as converting their reactors from the use of highly enriched uranium to newer versions using low-enriched uranium, beefing up security at nuclear facilities, improving radiation detection at airports and seaports, and so forth. Fifty-seven nations and entities (the EU and U.N. included) participate in this process. But the Islamic Republic of Iran is not on the list.
The most likely scenario (God willing, still unlikely) in which terrorists could threaten Manhattan or any other city would be for the most prolific terror-sponsoring state in the world to obtain nuclear weapons. While we are clinking glasses with Iran in negotiations in Vienna, the U.S. State Department continues to list Iran as a state sponsor of terror. In 2012, Iran participated in planned terror attacks in India, Thailand, Georgia and Kenya. It provided aid and training to the Taliban, Shia groups in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and continues to cooperate in various ways with al-Qaida. The president should curl up some evening with the State Department's country reports. They're not beclouded by wishful thinking.
The president is another story. Following his "historic" phone call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani -- a call the White House was so excited about that it released a photo of Obama holding the receiver of an old-fashioned corded phone while sitting in the Oval Office -- the president expressed his hope that "our two nations" would "move beyond" their "difficult history."
When it comes to Iran, the president is not above grasping at straws. He twice referred to a supposed "fatwa" issued by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei against the development of nuclear weapons. Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute notes that Khamenei posts all of his fatwas on his webpage, but this isn't among them.