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After President Bush returned from Europe, reports in the liberal mainstream media circulated to the effect that the administration had changed policy regarding Iran. When President Bush suggested the United States would support the E.U.-3’s negotiations with Iran, even to the point of offering incentives should the mullahs drop their nuclear weapons ambitions, the administration was seen as backing off from playing tough.

Not to worry. President Bush didn’t set foot on France and Germany only to get infected with John Kerry’s flip-flopping determination to appease the mad mullahs. Nor did he look into Putin’s eyes and see the wisdom of handing over nuclear fuel to the mullahs so they could power up their nifty Soviet-built reactor at Bushehr.

President Bush is on an understandable and consistent path with the mullahs. Sure, he said in Europe that an American decision to attack Iran would be “ridiculous,” but he quickly added that the military option yet remained on the table.

What is the president up to? Simple. He’s positioning the debate. If George Bush acted and talked totally hawkish, the liberal Democrats in Congress would come unglued. We would hear all over again the chant from the left that no WMDs had been found in Iraq, despite the ample evidence we found that Saddam had plenty a more than ready capability to produce them virtually at will. John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden would have to elbow each other to be the first on the Sunday talk shows to charge that George Bush understood nothing about diplomacy.

So, OK. Bush tells the world he’s all for diplomacy, even European-style “carrots” for the mullahs, provided they dismantle their ability to produce nuclear weapons. No more promises that the mullahs can break in secret. What would stand as proof for Bush? Again, simple. Let the mullahs dismantle their centrifuges, so they could not enrich uranium to weapons grade. Let them destroy the heavy water facility they have at Arak, since they won’t need to produce plutonium if the Russians are going to give them fuel for peaceful purposes. Then, let’s put into place reliable verification procedures where the world can inspect Iran at will to make sure no weapons program is working secretly.

Does President Bush believe the E.U.-3 will get this type of agreement from the mullahs? Probably not – that is, unless he started drinking again in Europe, indulging in all the French champagne John Kerry would have enjoyed or all the German beer Ted Kennedy might have liked had he been there as president.

Without a solid agreement resulting from these negotiations, the administration can head quickly to the Security Council, a necessary stopping-off place to head off the Democrats ready to scream and cry about another “pre-emptive” war, should the administration decide to use the military option.

It’s all about positioning the argument. Let’s give the Democrats preference for diplomacy and international agency control a chance, until it fails, which most certainly it will. Then George Bush can tell the world clearly what is already apparent to many – the mullahs have no intention of abandoning their pursuit of a nuclear weapon. All the mullahs want to do is bribe the Europeans and get an “agreement” they can wink and nod at while signing.

A revolution of peace is sweeping the Middle East. Getting nukes is the mullahs’ last ditch try at maintaining power. With nukes in hand, the mullahs figure they can muscle not only their own people, but also the world.

George Bush has made his intentions clear: “No nukes for mullahs” is his clear and unwavering determination. This is the same George Bush who gave a inaugural address a few weeks ago in which he declared that all men in all nations were born free – something no American leader has ever as clearly proclaimed.

The mullahs better watch out. There’s a new sheriff in town and they’re on the wanted list.

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