Overlaid on each graph are the measures taken during the timeframe reflected, to deter or thwart the Iranian nuclear program: UN sanctions, US and EU application of sanctions (i.e., periodic tightening of measures), and special programs like the introduction of the Stuxnet worm in Iran’s centrifuge-array controllers.
It should be obvious that the net effect of these measures over time has been, to say the least, unimpressive. In the larger context of all that has happened in the last decade, and what we have known throughout that period, the claim that they have had a meaningful effect on Iran’s nuclear program would be irresponsible.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has been lobbying Congress to hold off on another round of sanctions against Iran, eyeing the next round of talks between Iran and the “P5+1” group of UN Permanent Security Council members, plus Germany. Those talks are to take place in November, and presumably will continue the pattern of Iranian stalling to buy time.
Reportedly, P5+1 diplomats who met with Iran’s foreign minister in Geneva in mid-October were sympathetic with the bout of back pain from which he was suffering. Weirdly – or perhaps not – Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif traced his attack of back pain to the Iranian press “misquoting” him on the topics of the Obama-Rouhani phone call in September, and the length of his own meeting with U.S. counterpart John Kerry. Reportedly, an Iranian media outlet “misquoted” Zarif to the effect that that meeting went too long. Apparently, he’s subject to psychosomatic manifestations.
Or maybe Zarif is faking an injury at the end of an unsuccessful third down, when his team needs time in the fourth quarter and has no official time-outs left to call. That (admittedly facetious) interpretation would be in character with the Iranians’ modus operandi in the talks. But the truth is that if it’s the fourth quarter, it’s not Iran that’s on the short end of the score. Iran is holding onto a narrow lead in this game, hoping to keep us out of the end zone and pull off one of the biggest upsets in history.