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So maybe the U.S. is secretly helping Iran screw up its nuclear weapons program?

June 28, 2010 |  4:22 am

Irans leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

President Obama has often said the way to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons is through United Nations and other international sanctions. Put the squeeze on Iran and its leader and they will suddenly give up the drive to become a nuclear power. Lots of international talk, not a whole lot of action.

So far, no good.

Amid the torrent of talk that erupts every Sunday morning on American TV, there was one little-noticed exchange that especially caught our ear.

On his ABC News program "This Week," the alert Jake Tapper was talking with CIA Director Leon Panetta about Iran's efforts. Panetta believes they are bent on developing weapons and thinks they might be about two years away from having a deliverable nuclear bomb.

Tapper asked about suspicions that the U.S. was secretly helping Iran stumble in its research. That wouldn't exactly be transparent, would it? But, hey, when it comes to nukes in the hands of the likes of those types, whatever works, right?

Panetta, of course, is not really going to answer. "Why, yes, Jake. We did give his scientists the incorrect recipe for enriching uranium just the other day."

But see if you read into Panetta's non-answer here a hopeful sign that the Obama administration may not be as passive as it looks:

TAPPER: The administration has continually said that Iran has run into technical troubles in their nuclear program. Is that because the Iranians are bad at what they do, or because the U.S. and other countries are helping them be bad at what they do, by sabotaging in some instances their program?

PANETTA: Well, I can't speak to obviously intelligence operations, and I won't. It's enough to say that clearly, they have had problems. There are problems with regards to their ability to develop enrichment, and I think we continue to urge them to engage in peaceful use of nuclear power. If they did that, they wouldn't have these concerns, they wouldn't have these problems. The international community would be working with them rather than having them work on their own.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Associated Press (Ahmadinejad).

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