WASHINGTON -- If there was ever any doubt, it must be clear to everyone now that the Obama administration has no idea how to stop the Iranian regime from acquiring nuclear weapons. Earlier this month, as he warmed up for what the White House billed as "an unprecedented Nuclear Security Summit," President Barack Obama trotted out a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia and announced new, self-imposed restrictions on building, testing and using U.S. nuclear weapons in his Nuclear Posture Review, or NPR. He also made the meaningless claim that "outliers," such as Iran and North Korea, will be increasingly isolated as "long as they are operating outside of accepted international norms."
Thankfully, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, requires ratification by the U.S. Senate. The O-Team's NPR will be debated in congressional committees, because even unilateral disarmament has to be funded. But the absence of any foreign policy on Iran's headlong pursuit of a nuclear arsenal is the sole prerogative of the executive branch. Threats to "isolate" the theocrats in Tehran or the despots in Pyongyang are hollow -- and everyone knows it.
Last week, someone at the Pentagon was worried enough about the lack of coherent policy or planning that he leaked to The New York Times what one officer dubbed "The CYA, 'What If?' Memo." The document to which he refers is a classified memorandum Defense Secretary Bob Gates sent in January to the White House "national security team" urging it to consider how we are going to deal with a nuclear-armed Iran.
This memo -- and the talk it has spawned -- makes very good news for the ayatollahs. They now know that short of armed intervention, the Obama administration cannot deter Iran from building all the nuclear weapons it wants.
The mullahs were never worried about the United Nations' toothless nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency; Iranian lies to IAEA inspectors fill volumes. Nor were they concerned about "severe" economic and diplomatic sanctions from the U.N. Security Council. Unlike Mr. Obama, the ayatollahs on the Supreme Council don't care whether anyone likes them; they want to be feared. And now there are increasing reasons to do so.
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.