This paragaph from The New York Times's coverage today of the nuclear talks between Iran and the P5 + 1 countries (the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany) in Baghdad brought me up a little short:
The six powers also want Iran to export its current stockpile of 20 percent uranium and down the road, to dismantle the once-secret Fordo enrichment plant, deep inside a mountain near the holy city of Qom, that is producing it.
It's those three words, "down the road," that stopped me. "Down the road" is not an expression that would cause the Israeli prime minister, or the defense minister, to call President Obama and tell him that they are taking the military option off the table. It would actually cause them to think -- not that they don't think this already -- that the Baghdad talks are a charade. And if they think that, and if they think that the window of opportunity is closing for action (see below to understand why the window, from their perspective, may be closing), they might take action, which is a very bad idea. (It's a bad idea in large part because I believe the U.S., if it came to it, would take military action to keep Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold, obviating the need for Israel to do it sooner).
"Down the road" isn't very appealing to President Obama, either. As much as he would like to forestall action on Iran until after November, he is fully aware of the regime's long record of deception and delay, and it's my understanding that the Administration will be reminding other members of the negotiating group that the U.S. does not want to dance with Iran for very long, especially given this news, just out:
A U.N. watchdog report is expected to show that Iran has installed more uranium enrichment centrifuges at an underground site, potentially boosting output capacity of nuclear work major powers want it to stop, Western diplomatic sources say.
Two sources said the Islamic state may have placed in position nearly 350 machines since February - in addition to the almost 700 centrifuges already operating at the Fordow facility - but that they were not yet being used to refine uranium.
Since February! I hope this gives everyone pause.