Dead end?:

We have long felt that Mohamed ElBaradei and his United Nations nuclear inspectors were too patient with Iran’s cat-and-mouse games and constant evasions. Even their patience is running out. In a report last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency declared that it had reached an impasse over Tehran’s refusal to answer questions about its past nuclear activities. The report also said that Iran had substantially improved its ability to produce nuclear fuel in direct defiance of a Security Council ban.

We know that the United States and its allies are grappling with a lot right now, including a financial meltdown and a resurgent Russia. But Tehran’s scientists are getting ever closer to mastering the skills of building a nuclear weapon. This is not a problem that can be shunted off to the next president.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice could prove that she was serious by proposing to immediately open an American interests section in Tehran — an idea that seems to have disappeared. We don’t know if any mix of sanctions and rewards can persuade Iran’s leaders to abandon their nuclear programme. But without such an effort, we are certain that Tehran will keep pressing ahead, while the voices in the United States and Israel arguing for military action will only get louder. — The New York Times