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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

US planning containment strategy for Iran

While claiming not to have given up on preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, the United States has been quietly working on a 'containment' strategy in the event that Iran does get them. Obama administration officials say it would be 'irresponsible' not to think about it.
But if Iran stays on a nuclear arms path, the administration's only realistic choice is to deter it from using them, said Richard Kugler, a senior consultant to a policy research center at National Defense University.

The administration's move earlier this year to reconfigure an interceptor and radar system to protect Europe against short- and medium-range missiles is already one clear element of deterrence aimed at a nuclear Iran. The proposed system is based on the assumption that the missiles would be Iranian and carry nuclear warheads.

"So the initial steps are being taken" in that direction, said Kugler said, who says that move is taking the U.S. in the direction of "extended deterrence," a sort of umbrella over neighbor-nations threatened by a nuclear Iran.

That is akin to a controversial "defense umbrella" concept that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton mentioned publicly in July. Those comments angered Israel, which said it sounded as if the U.S. was conceding Iran was going nuclear and preparing to live with it.

Clinton insisted her comment was meant to show Iran that it would not profit from building an atomic bomb.

Extended deterrence would be meant to protect friends and allies in the Mideast and Europe from the threat of an Iranian nuclear attack — not unlike the security umbrella the U.S. provided for Germany during the Cold War, when the central threat was seen as either a Soviet land assault or a nuclear attack.

Some question whether such an argument can dissuade Iran, but retired Gen. John Abizaid, who oversaw U.S. military operations in the Mideast from 2003-07, says he thinks that a nuclear-armed Iran would make rational judgments.
The problem with a containment strategy is that it assumes rational actors on the other side. To date, Iran has given no indication that it would act rationally.

What could go wrong?


At 4:14 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The US may be willing to live with a nuclear Iran. Israel won't.


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