Well, well, well. Look at what the New York Times has buried on page 3 of its article about the joint announcement by Pres. Obama and by French and British leaders Nicolas Sarkozy and Gordon Brown that Iran is building a secret underground plant to manufacture nuclear fuel.
First, the background:
American officials said that they had been tracking the covert project for years, but that Mr. Obama decided to disclose the American findings after Iran discovered, in recent weeks, that Western intelligence agencies had breached the secrecy surrounding the complex. On Monday, Iran wrote a brief, cryptic letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency, saying that it now had a “pilot plant” under construction, whose existence it had never before revealed.
In a statement from its headquarters in Vienna on Friday, the atomic agency confirmed that it had been told on Monday by Iran that “a new pilot fuel enrichment plant is under construction in the country.” The I.A.E.A. said it had requested more information about the plant and access to it as soon as possible. “The agency also understands from Iran that no nuclear material has been introduced into the facility,” the statement said.
Hours after Mr. Obama’s announcement, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, confirmed in a statement that Iran was building a “semi-industrial enrichment fuel facility,” designed to produce nuclear fuel, that it had not previously announced to international authorities, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported.
And the minor detail reported on the last page of the article (emphasis is mine):
Earlier this week, Mr. Obama’s discussions with President Hu Jintao of China on Tuesday and his meeting with President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia on Wednesday focused largely on Iran, administration officials said. During his meeting with Mr. Medvedev in particular, Mr. Obama pressed his case, expressing pessimism that talks scheduled for next week with the Iranians over the nuclear issue would yield much progress, administration officials said.
“The president made clear that while he was willing to engage, he was also clear-eyed about the prospects of that engagement,” a senior administration official said.
Mr. Obama had, by that point, made a giant step toward getting Russia more amenable to the idea of sanctions against Iran — something Moscow does not like — by announcing last week that he was replacing President George W. Bush’s missile defense with a version less threatening to Moscow. That issue, one administration official said, completely changed the dynamic during Mr. Obama’s meeting with Mr. Medvedev.
While it is unclear whether Mr. Obama briefed Mr. Medvedev about the Qum facility during that meeting at New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel, the two leaders nonetheless emerged with Mr. Medvedev promising, for the first time publicly, that Russia would be amenable to tougher sanctions.
One administration official said that the United States was hoping that with Russia agreeing to tougher sanctions, China would follow. Mr. Obama is planning to visit Beijing and Shanghai in early November, just around the same time that a sanctions resolution is expected to be introduced at the Security Council.
Don’t waste even one nanosecond wondering whether the same far right warmongers who condemned Pres. Obama for reversing former Pres. Bush’s plans to put missile defense in Eastern Europe, moaning about ‘caving in’ to Vladimir Putin’s ‘thuggery’ and ‘giving the Russians a gift’ and not even getting anything in return, are now acknowledging they were wrong or giving Obama any credit for being smart and far-seeing.
No, of course not; and not only does Obama get no credit — he actually gets raked over the coals for not making this announcement sooner!
Wow. Since January, we’ve sought re-engagement with Iran, soft-pedaled criticism of a brutal crackdown of Iranian civilians, and scuttled missile defense…
… and now we learn that they’ve been hiding a second nuclear facility the whole time, and that the U.S. government and its allies have known about this facility for a number of years, and we’ve pretended, in pursuing this re-engagement, that they could be trusted. And for months, we’ve made outreach after outreach, all aimed at establishing a relationship of trust with a government that lied to us, and continues to lie to us.
Way to go, Mr. President. Although I guess the Iranians’ disinterest in the embassy Fourth of July parties makes more sense now, huh?
Jim, Jim, no, you don’t understand: The Obama administration was trying to get Russia on board before Iran found out we knew about the secret facility. If he’d announced that we were spying on them, then they’d know, see? That’s the way covert ops work — if you tell, then it’s not a secret anymore. Get it now?
Cross-posted at Comments from Left Field.