The White House will shelve Bush administration plans to build a missile-defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, according to people familiar with the matter, a move likely to cheer Moscow and roil the security debate in Europe.
The U.S. will base its decision on a determination that Iran’s long-range missile program has not progressed as rapidly as previously estimated, reducing the threat to the continental U.S. and major European capitals, according to current and former U.S. officials.
Just as the WSJ is reporting that story, Agence France Presse comes up with this one: France ‘certain’ Iran working on nukes
French intelligence agencies are certain that Iran is hiding a nuclear weapons program, President Nicolas Sarkozy says.
“We cannot let Iran acquire nuclear” weapons because it would also be a threat to Israel, Sarkozy said during a meeting at the Elysee presidential palace with lawmakers from his conservative UMP party on Tuesday.
“It is a certainty to all of our secret services. Iran is working today on a nuclear (weapons) program,” he said.
The French leader also said he would not “shake the hand of someone who wants to wipe Israel off the map”, referring to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
So the French think the Iranians are getting nukes, but the Obama administration is not worried because the Iranian rockets are not ready to deliver them?
But, guess what, Intelligence Agencies Say No New Nukes in Iran
Secret updates to White House challenge European and Israeli assessments.
Not only does the administration think the Iranians don’t have the rockets, they don’t even believe Iran could get the bomb.
Gee, that so eases my mind!
Alright kids, let’s make Vlad happy, then!
This represents a complete capitulation to Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who had demanded that the proposed deployments be halted as a price for improved relations. Ironically, the Obama administration, which is appeasing Russia in the hopes that Moscow will help put pressure on Iran, has made this mammoth concession just a few days after Moscow declared that it had no intention of supporting sanctions against Iran.
The consequences of this action in Eastern Europe, especially in Ukraine and in other countries that feel vulnerable to Russian power, will be disastrous. It is a major American retreat in the face of Russian bullying. And we will get absolutely nothing for it.
More Obama-brand diplomacy:
A source tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD that the team in the air to Europe will be making stops in Warsaw, Prague, and Brussels. It sounds like the administration did not undertake any serious consultation with the allies affected by this decision, displaying a kind of unilateralism that became one of the core Democratic criticisms of the Bush administration’s diplomacy.
The Czech Interim Prime Minister got a midnight call. They couldn’t even bother to tell him in person.
From the day Obama was sworn in, the entire foreign policy has been, “appease our enemies, drop our friends.”
Let’s take a look at the map, and think fireworks,
Many other bloggers will be remarking that this move by the Obama administration gives the Czechs and Poles (and Israel) the middle finger. You can also be assured that Chavez is also welcoming the news, big time.
Is the healthcare debate timed to coincide with this in order to distract from the disastrous foreign policy, or is it just another disastrous move out of many?
While we’re at it, let’s appease China and throw the Dalai Lama under the bus, too.
The first Western leader to expressly admit knowledge of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, French president Nicolas Sarkozy said: “It is a certainty to all of our secret services. Iran is working today on a nuclear (weapons) program.” He added: “We cannot let Iran acquire nuclear” weapons because it would also be a threat to Israel.” Sarkozy spoke during a meeting at the Elysee presidential palace with lawmakers from his UMP party Tuesday, Sept. 15.
The French president said he would not shake the hand (of Iran’s president at the UN General Assembly) of “someone who wants to wipe Israel off the map.”
DEBKAfile’s militlary sources add:
French intelligence has thus gone further than US intelligence agencies which maintained in an assessment to leaked to the media on Sept. 10: “Iran has created enough nuclear fuel to make a rapid, if risky, spring for a nuclear weapon,” and “Iran has deliberately stopped short of the critical last steps to make a bomb.”
France is one of the five permanent UN Security Council members with veto powers. Together with Germany they have agreed to meet Iranian representatives on Oct. 1 for talks, although Tehran insists they will not cover its “inalienable nuclear rights.”
At least Sarko’s awake.
In today’s podcast
This will be the subject of today’s podcast at 11AM Eastern.
Adding insult to injury is the timing of the announcement: A friend emailed reminding me that September 17 is the 70th anniversary of the Russian invasion of Poland. Nice going! Jules has more, lots more, on that.
Michael Goldfarb examines the decision:
The White House has put out a “fact sheet” on their policy of Russian appeasement/missile defense surrender. The fact sheet says that the new approach — focusing on SM-3 and sea-based systems (presumably in Turkey) — will “augment our current protection of the U.S. homeland against long-range ballistic missile threats.” That is a lie. This system will provide zero, nada, zilch protection to the U.S. homeland, providing only defense against short- and medium-range missiles to Europe.
The fact sheet says this system will protect “our Allies in Europe sooner and more comprehensively than the previous program, and involves more flexible and survivable systems.” That is a lie. The system that was being placed in Poland is already operational in Alaska. These new plans will now take years of negotations to implement and will necessarily be less survivable as they will not be underground.
The fact sheet says that “The Czech Republic and Poland, as close, strategic and steadfast Allies of the United States, will be central to our continued consultations with NATO Allies on our defense against the growing ballistic missile threat.” That is a lie. The Czechs and Poles get a midnight phone call from the president while Tauscher is already in the air. They were not consulted with and have been given no assurances — because the president is selling them out.
The fact sheet says, “We also welcome Russian cooperation to bring its missile defense capabilities into a broader defense of our common strategic interests.” If that’s true, our president is totally clueless about Russian capabilities and intentions — even Bush, who looked into Putin’s soul, was not so delusional as to think U.S. missile defense could be dependent on Russian good will and cooperation. How long til the Russians threaten to throw us out of our “joint” missile defense facilities in order to coerce us into staying out of an attack on Georgia or some other democratic state in their near abroad.
This is a decision based purely on ideology and the good soldiers on the JCS and and at the Pentagon have no choice but to go along for the ride. At least the president ought to be honest about what this means and stop the smears of missile defense.
From the Senate,
Sen. Mitch McConnell,
” …the administration has secured no apparent commitment from the Russians to work with us to reduce either the missile or nuclear threat from Iran. More troubling will be if the administration has made these concessions to Russia in pursuit of expediting ill-considered arms control deals.”
Now I can’t wait to Sept. 24 to see how Obama does when chairing that UN meeting on nuclear proliferation.
Erik has more on the European reaction.