Iran's new president, Hasan Rouhani, is telling President Barack Obama what he wants to hear while buying time to build a nuclear bomb, says John Bolton, former U.N. ambassador and current senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
"Just as Vladimir Putin had played him for a fool over Syria, Mr. Obama was initially snubbed by Iranian President Hasan Rouhani despite frantic White House efforts to produce a handshake," Bolton writes in a Sunday op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.
It's not the first time Rouhani has played the West, Bolton writes. Rouhani was Iran's chief nuclear negotiator from 2003 to 2005, when he successfully followed the same playbook.
"By offering what appeared to be concessions, Iran acquired precious time and legitimacy to overcome scientific and technical glitches in its nuclear-weapons program, particularly at Isfahan's uranium-conversion facility," Bolton wrote.
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Rouhani even boasted of his successes in article and speeches. In 2006, Rouhani said, "by creating a calm environment, we were able to complete the work on Isfahan."
Bolton ticked off a list of what he described as Obama's failures over the past year.
"Mr. Obama failed in his stated objective to oust Syria's Assad regime from power; failed to impress Assad that his 'red line' against using chemical weapons was serious; failed to exact retribution when that red line was crossed; failed to rally anything but small minorities in either house of Congress to support his position; and failed to grasp that agreements with the likes of Syria and Russia prolong, rather than solve, the chemical-weapons problem," Bolton writes.
Iran's ayatollahs know, Bolton said, that the Obama's "all options on the table" threat against their nuclear program carries no weight.
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