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Monday, June 01, 2009

A new red line for Iran?

In Monday's Washington Post, Graham Allison argues that Iran's capacity to enrich uranium is a reality that can no longer be denied, and that we need to talk about a new red line for Iran since, unfortunately, the existing one has already been crossed.
The bottom line for American policy is that the menu of feasible options has shrunk. Every option available at this point requires living with an Iran that knows how to enrich uranium. Continued denial of this truth is self-delusion.

The central policy question becomes: What combination of arrangements, inside and outside Iran, has the best chance of persuading it to stop short of a nuclear bomb? More important than how many centrifuges Iran continues operating at Natanz is how transparent it will be about all of its nuclear activities, including the manufacture of centrifuges. Maximizing the likelihood that covert enrichment will be discovered is the best way to minimize the likelihood that it will be pursued. The best hope for defining a meaningful red line is to enshrine the Iranian supreme leader's affirmations that Iran will never acquire nuclear weapons in a solemn international agreement that commits Russia and China to join the United States in specific, devastating penalties for violation of that pledge.

The Obama administration cannot restore Iran's nuclear innocence. Its challenge is to prevent the birth of the next nuclear-weapons state.
While it makes sense that we cannot make Iran 'forget' how to enrich uranium, Allison's prescription for how to deal with that new reality is too vague. It's also not clear to me why Allison believes that we cannot deny Iran either uranium or centrifuges (or both). And I doubt that any agreement with Russia or China about Iran's nuclear program - assuming they would even sign anything meaningful - would be worth the paper on which it is written.


At 6:22 PM, Blogger Paul W said...

While it is true that you cannot uninvent something, we can (and should) not only do everything to make it more difficult for Iran to obtain additional tools or materials to make more enriched uranium or bombs (and a working, deliverable bomb is far different from a device capable of generating a sustained nuclear fission reaction), but also make sure that they have different places to put their money.

Examples of the latter are refined gasoline. Iran imports roughly half of their needs (a rare place for so large an exporter of oil). CUT IT OFF! Make their economy grind to a halt. Oh, and I wouldn't be too disappointed if there were to be an "accident" at their one and only (and huge) refinery complex, thereby virtually stripping Iran of any ability to refine gasoline. THEN the rest of the world would have leverage over the mullahs - "you guys play ball, or you have a revolution on your hands."

Alas, such an effort requires both brains and betzim, both sorely lacking in White House at this time.

At 7:17 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The US has already shown it lacks the will to stop a nuclear North Korea. No Israeli Jew seriously believes now the US would lift a finger to stop a nuclear Iran. While its not a "red line" for the US, what Iran is seeking remains a red line for Israel.

At 12:13 AM, Blogger 1Trader said...

Every option available at this point requires living with an Iran that knows how to enrich uranium. Continued denial of this truth is self-delusion.Except of course the most practical, effective and reasonable option of a sustained bombing campaign which worked well with Iraq and prevented their acquiring nuclear weapons.

The next option would involve regime change, with or without an invasion.

The author is an idiot and advancing propaganda, not options. As NormanF said, all that is missing is the will to stop both Iran and North Korea, the technical ability is well at hand


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