President Obama, along with the leaders of Britain and France, demanded Friday that Iran immediately allow international weapons monitors to inspect a nuclear facility the Islamic Republic acknowledges it has been secretly building for years.
Obama, joined by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the opening of the G-20 economic summit in Pittsburgh, warned Iran that it will be "held accountable" to an impatient world community if it does not fully disclose its nuclear ambitions.
So, it appears that Iran has had a secret nuclear plant and has been developing uranium there for years. I say the news was "shocking" because you'd have to have been really gullible to believe that Iran had disclosed its nuclear ambitions fully.
This is, according to President Obama, the third violation of UN resolutions related its nuclear ambitions. What's also not surprising was that all three leaders said that Iran "must be held accountable" and that this a moment of truth, yet again.
The language following this announcement was frankly no different from what we heard from President Bush over and over again regarding Iran. The former president proceeded to do little but talk tough toward Iran. He was able to orchestrate a few meaningless sanctions and did little beyond that.
Any sanctions that go through the UN would face a roadblock with both Russia and China. Earlier in the week some said that there was a breakthrough with Russia when its "leader" Dmitri Medvedev said that sanctions toward Iran were "inevitable". Some called this the first sign that the president's outreach was working. Now, that will have its first test. Most astute observers of Russia know that Vladimir Putin is the real leader of Russia, and it's unclear what Putin will do.
Garry Kasparov, the main opposition leader in Russia, believes that Putin makes every move with a desire to artificially raise oil prices. That's dropped precipitously since its highs about two years ago. A confrontation between Iran and the rest of the world would certainly push oil prices up in the short term, and so it's unclear that sanctions would benefit Putin.
I expect the world to talk tough for a few weeks. I expect some meaningless sanctions and then everyone will forget about it for the time being. Israel, however, has no such options. So, maybe, the threat of a regional war in the Middle East will force some to act. We'll all have to wait and see.