Paul Greenberg

The headline on the front page made it sound like big news: UN nuclear chief sets Iran inspection. So? Another year, another inspection by the sleepiest watchdog on the planet, the United Nations' own Maxwell Smart -- the one and only Mohammed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Agency and Office of General Permissiveness.

Director ElBaradei has just been to Tehran making nice with Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, where the two held hands for a ceremonial photograph and agreed that the UN's inspectors would soon visit Iran's latest no-longer-secret nuclear processing plant.

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This one is dug into a mountain outside the holy city of Qom. It is to be inspected with all due, blind formality Sunday, October 25th. That's only a couple of weeks away, but it still gives the Iranians more than enough time to clear away any evidence of nuclear weaponization at the site. So the UN's mole-eyed inspectors will find their usual nothing.

Since the United States now has joined Europe in endorsing the mullahs' right to develop nuclear power for ever so peaceful purposes, does it really matter whether this site or the next oh-so-secret installation has started producing nuclear weapons yet?

The switch from nuclear power to nuclear weapons is less a scientific than a political decision for the Iranians at this point. And it can be made -- and carried out -- quickly.

Does anybody -- besides Director ElBaradei, of course, and our own see-no-evil State Department -- believe that Iran's little fuehrer isn't bent on producing a nuke of his own, and that his rocket scientists aren't working feverishly on a way to deliver it?

It's also an open secret (much like Iran's nuclear processing plants) that, whatever his forceful statements about how Iran won't be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, Barack Obama isn't really going to do anything to prevent it. Any more than the United Nations is. Any more than the Clinton and Bush administrations prevented North Korea's Kim Jong-Il from acquiring a nuke of his own.

Just as he's slipsliding when it comes to the war in Afghanistan despite all his tough talk about having to win it, it becomes clearer that this president is willing to accept a nuclear-armed Iran. You can tell because he's been so emphatic about never accepting such an outcome.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.