Mr. Obama chose to engage the Islamic regime, believing that an extended hand would yield better results than threats. He reasoned that a new US approach would be welcomed by Tehran because it was a complete change from the Bush administration.
However, the radicals ruling Iran saw this extended hand as weakness. They engaged the Obama administration while enriching uranium beyond the benign 3.5 percent level, as it had been limited to for many years, to the 20 percent level. While that is not a high enough enrichment level for a nuclear weapon, it is high enough to get to bomb-grade very quickly – in a matter of weeks if Tehran decides to do so.
Early in 2010, Obama, realizing his defeat in the negotiation phase, moved to a sanctions phase. But instead of the crippling sanctions he had promised, he started step-by-step sanctions that Iran’s clerics saw as further proof of America’s inability to stop Iran, which emboldened them to speed up their program.
Today Iran, under further sanctions by the United Nations, United States, and European Union, has over 5.5 tons of enriched uranium – enough to eventually make six nuclear bombs. It continues to enrich uranium with more than 9,000 centrifuges at Natanz, both at the 3.5 and 20 percent levels, and at the previously secret site, the Fordow facility, deep in a mountain near the city of Qom, to the 20 percent level.
All the while Iran is expanding the number of centrifuges at both sites, with a possibility that there are more sites unknown to the West or the International Atomic Energy Agency.