Foreign policy is full of dilemmas and nuances. It is important to have the subtlety to understand them. And this is certainly true of policy towards Iran. But there are some foreign policy judgments where clarity matters more than subtlety. Here is one. Iran is led by a man who denies the Holocaust and rants about the “global Jewish conspiracy”. He is sustained in office by an oppressive regime that treats its population with contempt. It would be very dangerous if such a government possessed nuclear weapons.
It is hard, therefore, to imagine a more significant or worrying admission than that of Tehran yesterday. One of the most threatening governments in the world is building a secret uranium-enrichment facility hidden inside a mountain near Qom. Until now it had concealed this second facility, declaring (after its discovery by intelligence sources) only its plant at Natanz.
Iran has admitted to what Gordon Brown has correctly described as “serial deception”. Iran has repeatedly claimed, indeed it still does, that its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful. This was always an unpersuasive assertion. President Obama now says that the existence of the new plant is “not consistent” with that peacable aim. Iran will doubtless suggest that its admission of the new plant’s existence demonstrates Tehran’s transparency. But the regime only owned up to the facility because it knew that Mr Obama had been informed about it and was about to tell the world.