Before issuing such a "bold initiative" and "outreach" toward the theocrats ruling in Tehran, Mr. Obama's advisers should have shown their boss the report provided late last month to French President Nicolas Sarkozy from a nonpartisan parliamentary commission on Iran's nuclear program. The report details Tehran's success in circumventing U.N. sanctions and concludes that Iranian scientists already have the know-how to build a nuclear weapon and that unless action is taken to prevent it, they will possess all necessary technology, equipment and fissile material to deploy nuclear weapons no later than the end of next year, "perhaps sooner."
Note to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and CIA Director-designate Leon Panetta: President Sarkozy has shared this report with other Western intelligence and diplomatic missions, but only the Europeans appear to have read it. They are not waiting for the "new hand of progress" to do a grip and grin with a radical Iranian ayatollah who believes "Zionism should be wiped from the earth."
On Thursday, while Mrs. Clinton was doing a meet and greet with her new staff at Foggy Bottom, diplomats from the 27 states of the European Union recommended removing an Iranian exile opposition group, the People's Mujahedeen of Iran, from the EU terror list. The agreement is expected to be ratified by the EU foreign ministers when they meet in Brussels, Belgium, Monday.
If the EU determination is affirmed, only the U.S. will continue to describe the PMOI as a "terrorist organization" -- a designation it earned in the 1980s, when it received support from Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war. I know because I chaired the meeting that made the recommendation. But that was then; this is now.
The PMOI, it should be noted, is the group that first alerted the world to Iran's covert nuclear program. Though most Western intelligence agencies dismissed the charge in 2002 and the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency scoffed at the allegations, the information was spot on. Since then, the PMOI has provided covert surveillance and reporting on inbound and outbound Iranian arms shipments, such as the weapons-laden vessel bound for Syria interdicted this week in the Red Sea by a U.S. warship on counter-piracy patrol. Unfortunately, only the lawyers were at work Wednesday, so the Cypriot-flagged ship was allowed to proceed toward the Suez Canal with hopes that perhaps the Egyptians would find a reason to stop it.
If Mr. Obama is truly serious about getting the attention of the ayatollahs, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the people of Iran, he ought to remove the PMOI from the U.S. terror blacklist immediately and give the EU kudos for their leadership. Such action would be an extraordinary signal of support for those who want to bring about a change in Tehran. After all, isn't "change" what this administration is all about?
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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