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October 10, 2012 4:48 am

A Timeline of Obama’s Iran Policy

avatar by Anne Bayefsky

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President Obama speaking to the Iranian people during Persian New Year. Photo: screenshot via White House youtube account.

The mortal threat posed by President Obama’s feeble foreign policy is finally receiving the scrutiny it deserves. The most important lesson emanating from the president’s failure to come clean on the al-Qaeda threat in Libya, and his blind eye to terrorism on the anniversary of 9/11, is what it tells us about his approach to the preeminent danger to world peace — Iran.

On September 25, 2012, at the U.N. General Assembly the president’s double-speak on Iran included this: “Iran . . . has failed to take the opportunity to demonstrate that its nuclear program is peaceful . . . time is not unlimited.”

Obviously, Iran “failed to take the opportunity” because its program is not peaceful. And an unspecified, indeterminate limit is not a limit at all.

So given that the president is fond of presaging his foreign-affairs declarations on Iran with “let me be clear,” let us be even clearer.

Here is a timeline of the Obama administration’s Iran policy, as the world’s most dangerous nation and leading state sponsor of terrorism moves inexorably towards acquiring the world’s most dangerous weapon.

  • “My expectation would be that if we can begin discussions soon, shortly after the Iranian elections, we should have a fairly good sense by the end of the year as to whether they are moving in the right direction.” President Obama, May 18, 2009, Washington, D.C.
  • “The opportunity will not remain open indefinitely.” Secretary Clinton, July 15, 2009, Washington, D.C.
  • “We are not going to keep the window open forever.” Secretary Clinton, July 22, 2009, Bangkok, Thailand.
  • “The Iranians may simply try to run out the clock.” Defense Secretary Robert Gates, July 27, 2009.
  • “Our patience is not infinite. We’re not willing to let this go on forever.” State Department spokesman Ian Kelly, September 14, 2009, Washington, D.C.
  • “If Iran does not take steps in the near future to live up to its obligations, then the United States will not continue to negotiate indefinitely. . . . Our patience is not unlimited.” President Obama, October 1, 2009, Washington, D.C.
  • “We are in what we hope is an intensive diplomatic phase now. It will not be open-ended.” Senior U.S. official, October 1, 2009, Geneva, Switzerland.
  • “I don’t think that there’s a hard-and-fast deadline. . . .What we have said all along is that this is not an open-ended process, we are not in this just to talk for talk’s sake. . . . We expect prompt, concrete steps to be taken over the next couple of weeks.” State department spokesman Kelly, October 2, 2009, Washington, D.C.
  • “We are running out of time” President Obama, November 15, 2009, Shanghai, China.
  • “Time is running out for Iran to address the international community’s growing concerns about its nuclear program.” Press Secretary Gibbs, November 29, 2009, Washington, D.C.
  • “Iran has to live up to its international obligations. . . . The president has said that our patience is not unlimited.” State Deptartment spokesman Kelly, November 30, 2009, Washington, D.C.
  • “The window is closing.” National Security adviser Jim Jones, December 2, 2009, Washington, D.C.
  • “Iran’s nuclear program . . . there was going to be a time limit . . .” President Obama,March 30, 2010, Washington, D.C.
  • “We’ve said to the Iranians all along . . . we still remain open to diplomacy. But it’s been very clear that the Iranians don’t want to engage with us.” Secretary Hillary Clinton, September 19, 2010.
  • “We want to see the Iranians engage, and as you know, we have attempted to bring about that engagement over the course of the last three-plus years. It has not proven effective.” Secretary Hillary Clinton, December 12, 2011, Washington, D.C.
  • “To resolve this issue will require Iran to come to the table and discuss in a clear and forthright way how to prove to the international community that the intentions of their nuclear program are peaceful. . . . The question is going to be whether in these discussions they show themselves moving clearly in that direction.” President Obama, March 6, 2012, Washington, D.C.
  • “That window is closing.” President Obama, March 25, 2012, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
  • “Time is short.” President Obama, March 26, 2012, Seoul, Republic of Korea,
  • “Iran’s window of opportunity . . . will not remain open forever.” Secretary Clinton,March 31, 2012, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
  • “They assert that their program is purely peaceful. . . . We want them to demonstrate clearly in the actions they propose that they have truly abandoned any nuclear weapons ambition.” Secretary Clinton, April 12, 2012, Washington, D.C.
  • “That window is closing. . . . Now, the clock is ticking. . . . We’re not going to have these talks just drag out in a stalling process. . . . We haven’t given away anything — other than the opportunity for us to negotiate “ President Obama, April 15, 2012, Cartagena, Columbia.
  • “We will not engage in an endless process of negotiations.”  U.N. ambassador Susan Rice, September 20, 2012, New York.
  • “Iran . . . has failed to take the opportunity to demonstrate that its nuclear program is peaceful . . . time is not unlimited.” President Obama, September 25, 2012, New York.

No leadership from in front, from behind, or even from the armchairs of television talk shows.  Little wonder that under President Obama our enemies are quite clearly emboldened.

This article was originally published by National Review Online.

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  • Mark

    Where are all the Obama time and space for negotiation remarks? surely they belong in this article.

    Iran is the BIG problem in the middle east they were the reason we were stuck in Iraq for so long. Their weapons killed so many Iraqi’s destabilize the country. Then their EFP explosively formed penetrators (IED’s that defeat armor) were sent in by the thousand to kill our soldiers in IED’s.

    We have kicked this down the road for far too long, It has made it difficult to act in Syria costing 30,000 lives. Iran is getting stronger and bolder and the regime is sponsoring more and more terrorism. The world is full of other threats that needs our attention but Iran can not be allowed to continue on its current path it puts at risk all or blood and treasure to secure the middle east. They need dealt with NOW before the costs to address them as a problem become MUCH greater. Contain the Syrian situation until Iran is under control and then make demands on Assad and do it Lybia style if they refuse. Next do WHAT EVER needs done to kill the hakani network in Pakistan. and export the knowledge base in Iran about nuclear technology offer them good lives abroad to prevent a occurrence.

    Iran is not going to be fun. I even suspect they will reinstate the draft, and that is not popular… but necessary. (I am not shooting my mouth off about that either, that is based on research.) But it needs done and it needed addressed almost 2 months ago. Without a move soon Iran is going to win the waiting game. And we need to do it right not a surgical strike that kicks this down the road, as that will just send the program deep underground for our children to deal with.

    It lights my fire when Obama says the tide of war is receding (what a lie!!! South China sea tensions, DBRK with Nukes, Pakistan with nukes and unstable gov, and hakiani network, Russia is re-arming and playing games, Iran and Syria Afghanistan I could go on.) But we can decrease our military strength even though our enemy’s are spending more. It does not matter that our airforce is reaching end of life on a large number of airframes, I know lockheed’s failure with the f35 is a big part of that. How about Cybersecurity, its a new department, It needs heavy funding. This goes beyond politics The whole congress should be kicked out of office and lobbying banned because corruption is infecting our great country. Many of obama’s policy’s I actually agree with. but his failure to lead in the middle east CAN NOT BE IGNORED. Hopefully he changes or does not get re-elected.