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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Dennis Ross: Obama has drawn a red line on Iran

Dennis Ross, who was in charge of the Iran file at the Obama White House during President Obama's first term, claims that the President has drawn a red line on how far he is willing to let Iran go in developing nuclear weapons. 
What is a “breakout capacity?” As Ross points out, Obama himself defined it in the third presidential debate in October. It “means that we would not be able to intervene in time to stop their nuclear program,” the president said. In other words, Iran would have acquired enough nuclear infrastructure and stockpiles of medium-enriched uranium that it could manufacture a bomb in a matter of a few weeks — before it could be detected by Western intelligence agencies or international inspectors. “That clock is ticking,” Obama said.
Ross contends that statement was deliberate, and reflected a carefully-drawn red line. In his first year in office, Obama presided over an internal debate about whether an Iranian nuclear bomb could be tolerated and contained; he eventually decided that it must be prevented, by military action if necessary. Before a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last March, Obama publicly said “it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”

A further series of public and private exchanges with Netanyahu this fall, Ross says, prompted Obama to define “breakout capacity” — a step that may have contributed to Israel’s decision to postpone military action of its own.
Netanyahu has signaled that Israel now sees the middle of 2013 as the time when Iran may acquire enough medium-enriched uranium to cross the “breakout” line. Ross puts it this way: “By the end of 2013, if nothing changes, you won’t know if they will move very quickly and present us with a fait accompli.”
It’s hard to imagine Obama explaining to the nation that another Middle East war is necessary because Iran’s uranium stockpile, which has been slowly accumulating for years, has grown a few kilograms too large. But that’s not the scenario Ross envisages. He says Obama will likely first present Khamenei with a final offer, allowing Iran a civil nuclear power program under tight restrictions. “He will make some unmistakeable demonstration that he is going the extra mile,” Ross says.
There's one small catch: Iran is not convinced that Obama is willing to take military action.
For the moment, Ross says, the Iranians “are not convinced we are prepared to use force.” Consequently, he says, “at this point I would still put the prospects for diplomacy at less than 50-50.” And: “If by the end of 2013 diplomacy hasn’t worked, the prospects for use of force become quite high.” 
What could go wrong?

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2 Comments:

At 2:40 AM, Blogger Sunlight said...

He's drawn a red line on Iran? Just depends on what "red" means and what "line" means.

 
At 6:05 PM, Blogger Empress Trudy said...

Just imagine if he were president during the Cuban missile crisis.

 

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