Back in Washington, aWol nearly strained something as he struggled mightily to construct a sentence and make a comment that wouldn't do any further damage to the fragile relationship the United States currently has with Russia. He managed to not only tamp down his urge to criticize, but also to offer something along the lines of praise...“If the Russians are willing to do that, which I support, then the Iranians do not need to learn how to enrich,” President Bush said Monday. “If the Iranians accept that uranium for a civilian nuclear power plant, then there’s no need for them to learn how to enrich.”
The timing could not have been worse. Just two weeks ago, the intelligence shops released their NIE that revealed that the Iranians stopped their weapons program in 2003. That NIE cut the legs from under aWol and Cheney, and has dampened the call for war with Iran.
Even thought the administration has moved to keep the pressure on the Iranian government, the release of the NIE has served to embolden Iran, and it has made it highly unlikely that China and Russia will be on board for the next round of sanctions by the United Nations Security Council.
The delivery of the fuel rods to the Iranian facility will certainly embolden them further.
As for Bush administration officials, their public comments were one thing, and their private comments were another thing entirely. “There is no doubt that Russia and the rest of the world want to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon,” was the public comment made by White House spokesman, Gordon D. Johndroe. “And today’s announcement provides one more avenue for the Iranians to make a strategic choice to suspend enrichment.”
In private, however, they lamented the fact that the Russians didn't stall on the delivery, and project an image of a united front that was hanging together and toeing a hard line. “We for many years tried to stop it, and for the last year we’ve known there was no way to stop it, and that it was coming, and we held our breath on the timing,” a senior administration official said.All that breath-holding was for naught.
Two weeks ago, Russia alerted the Bush administration that the details had been worked out, including the placement of safeguards that would allow for greater international inspections at Bushehr, and that the shipment would proceed.
The U.S. had already agreed, in principle, that Russia could provide the fuel rods, so long as safeguards were in place to handle the spent fuel. With that position clarified, there was no choice for the U.S. to make - the Bush administration had to accept that they had no grounds to keep pressuring Russia to delay the shipment.
I'm gonna hazard a guess, and say it's probably the latter.
Heckuva job, there, George. Heckuva job.