I had breakfast last month in New York with the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Other journalists had lunch or dinner. Ahmadinejad’s passion for the hidden Imam, whose imminent return he expects, is matched only by his passion for Western media.
At the time I chose not to write about the meeting. I was too disgusted — by the media merry-go-round, by more incendiary provocations from Ahmadinejad, and by the sterility of an Iran debate that turns in the tight circle formed by fear-mongering, ignorance and the ghastly stew of Western carrots and sticks.
And what of Iran’s program? Iran remains a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors are at Natanz; the number of centrifuges being used to make low-enriched uranium (far from weapons grade) has dropped 23 percent since May 2009 and production has stagnated; U.S. intelligence agencies hold that Iran has not made the decision to build a bomb; any “breakout” decision would be advertised because the I.A.E.A. would be thrown out; the time from “breakout” to deliverable weapon is significant.
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