Monday, November 22, 2004
Proceeding Onward to a Nuclear Iran
This is scary.
The agreement that France, Germany and Britain reached with Iran this week signals that the diplomatic option of dealing with Iran's nuclear weapons program no longer exists.As Caroline Glick points out, this removes the diplomatic option from the table, leaving the military option as the only one available. (I'm reminded of a John Kennedy quote: "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." Europe cannot prevent American military missions; but Europe can stand in the way of diplomatic efforts. By doing so, they are ensuring that military force will be used instead of diplomacy.)
The Weekly Standard this week explained that light water reactor fuel of the type that the Europeans have agreed to give Iran can be used to produce bomb material within nine weeks. Since the IAEA inspectors only visit Iran every three months, it would be a simple matter to divert enough light water fuel to produce a bomb between inspections. And so, the agreement itself holds the promise of direct European assistance to Iran's nuclear weapons program.
On the plus side, Iran is, at press time, making encouraging noises. But I can't trust that. The Iranians were eager enough to appear bellicose before the U.S. Presidential elections, when they had no allies on their side. With France, Germany, and Britian on board, the Iranians can proceed ahead with confidence... and change their tune when it suits them to do so, just as the North Koreans did.
I find myself wishing that the British will come to their senses; surely they have nothing whatever to gain from a nuclear-armed Iran, nor from endangering their strong friendship with the United States. But I'm not counting on it:
Contrasting with the US hard line, the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said he could imagine "no circumstances, full stop" for taking military action against the Iranians.Besides, as an Israeli, I have my own reasons for mistrusting British foreign policy.
It's popular, in certain circles, to predict an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear capabilities. (Israel has a vested interest in preventing the Iranians from acquiring nuclear weapons, since Israel would likely be the first target of such weapons. Further, Israel has the capability, thanks to newly-purchased F-16Is and "bunker-buster" bombs. Finally, an Israeli attack provides the United States with "deniability", should such a thing be necessary... and certainly the Israeli government doesn't need to worry about justifying such an attack to Israeli citizens. Israel has been through this before.)
That answer raises its own questions, of course. How would such an option affect the already-strained American-European relations? Would Israel resent being used as America's covert attack dog?
But surely, the top priority now must not be the future diplomatic fallout. We have to protect ourselves from more lethal forms of fallout, after all.
Daniel in Brookline
UPDATE: Iran and North Korea get mentioned in the same breath a lot these days, it seems. But the news from North Korea is more encouraging. First pamphlets appear, criticizing Kim-Jong Il (likely for the first time ever)!; then newspapers stop referring to him as "Beloved Leader"; and now his pictures are disappearing from state facilities. Such Little Things tries to put the pieces together.
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