G-8 Tightens Timetable on Iran

Talk about a swing and a miss.

Coming out of the G-8 talks in Italy, much of the media seems intent on arguing that the summit didn’t go far enough on the issue of a nuclear Iran. See, for example, Time: “The G-8 Speaks Softly on Iran’s Nuclear Program.”

This completely ignores the fact that Russia, which in the past has been the stumbling block to a united front against Iran, signed on to what President Barack Obama today described as “a strong statement calling on Iran to fulfill its [nuclear non-proliferation] responsibilities without delay.”

And there seems to be a bigger, more fundamental point that the media is totally missing.

In May, when Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu met President Barack Obama in the White House, Obama said that while he would try to engage Iran, he wouldn’t do it indefinitely, saying the Islamic Republic had until the end of the year to respond on its nuclear program. At the time, the New York Post said the two leaders “agreed an aggressive timetable is needed to deal with Iran’s nuclear intentions.”

That timetable just got a whole lot more aggressive. The leaders of the G-8 nations, with Russia’s assent, said they would “take stock” of the situation again at another international meeting in Pittsburgh in just two months.

As Politico reported:

“What that does is provides a time frame,” Obama said. If Iran does not take up offers to resume talks over its nuclear program, “you have on record the G-8 to begin with [and] potentially a lot of other countries that are going to say you need to take further steps …”

Obama said a ‘door’ is open to Iran, but he warned that the patience of the world community is finite. “We’re not going to just wait indefinitely and allow for the development of nuclear weapons in breach of international treaties and wake up one day and find ourselves in a much worse situation and unable to act.”

As I write this, Haaretz is running an AP article on its homepage headlined: “Obama: U.S. Won’t Allow Iran to Develop Nukes.”

Here’s the lead:

U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday the world would not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons, a day after a senior Iranian official vowed his country would not back down “even one step” over its nuclear work …

“I think the real story here was consensus in that [G8] statement, including Russia, which doesn’t make statements like that lightly,” [Obama] said. “Now the other story there was the agreement that we will reevaluate Iran’s posture towards negotiating the cessation of a nuclear weapons policy.”

“We’ll evaluate that at the G20 meeting in September.”

Despite what Time says, I imagine the clerical leaders of Iran hear the message loud and clear.

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