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Thursday, June 21, 2012

'Timid and shy and scared am I': Dennis Ross calls for 'nuclear endgame' on Iran but says no military option

Some more nuclear brilliance from former White House adviser Dennis Ross (you know, the guy who told Clinton to hold Pollard as a bargaining chip), who is here for the President's conference.
Ross, who was involved in determining US policy on Iran under US President Barack Obama, among his many Middle East roles in the State Department and White House over the years, said that even before the inconclusive Moscow meetings he had felt it was time “for a pivot in the negotiations away from the step-by-step approach, and more to an endgame on the nuclear issue approach.”

The step-by-step approach that has governed the negotiations with Iran up until now would have each side giving something up to the other as part of confidence- building measures. The problem with that approach, Ross indicated, was that it was taking too much time without results, while Iran continued to move its program forward.

Now, Ross said, the time has come to clarify, “is there a deal here or not?” The “core issue,” he said, is whether Iran is “prepared to accept an outcome where it has a civil nuclear power capability, but the limitations imposed on them preclude that from being converted into a nuclear weapons capability.”

In other words, Iran can have civil nuclear power, but not breakout capability. “But if they are not going to accept that, then we know diplomacy is not going to work. I think maybe the best way to enhance the prospect of diplomacy working is for the Iranians to understand that in the end, while we want it to succeed, we don’t fear its failure – they should fear its failure.”
No, they cannot have civil nuclear power either because they have shown that they cannot be trusted with it. And they don't need it. This is the second largest oil producer in the world. Let's not ignore that reality.
Ross, who is in the country participating in President Shimon Peres’s “Facing Tomorrow” conference, dismissed the notion that Obama’s rhetoric on the unacceptability of a nuclear Iran was not strong enough.

“I don’t think rhetoric alone is what is going to do it,” he said. “I think the Iranians are reading the six [the US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany], and not just the president, as wanting diplomacy to succeed, and therefore interpreting that as a reluctance to let it fail.”

But if the world powers now clearly set down an endgame, Ross argued, “then I think that will put them on the spot. Until they are put on the spot, they think they have time.”

Ross said that if the Iranians rejected a clear endgame proposal put on the table, “they would be exposed to the world and demonstrate clearly that they had an opportunity for civil nuclear power, which is what they say they want, but that is not good enough for them because what they really want is nuclear weapons capability. If they know they are going to be exposed like that, then it becomes much clearer that there will be a consequence for saying ‘no’ under those circumstances.”

He added, however, that at the end of the day there was no military solution to the problem.
Well, how do you put them on the spot and impose an endgame if you cannot back it up? Sanctions obviously don't move them and cannot be enforced. If you do not have a credible military option that you're willing to use, you cannot force them to do anything.
“The military can set the program back, but it can’t destroy it,” he said. “The Iranians have the know-how and the engineering capability so that whatever you destroy can be rebuilt.”
Then how come Iraq never rebuilt? How come Syria never rebuilt? Having the know-how isn't enough. You also have to have the resources and the willpower to rebuild. I don't buy the claim that if we attack Iran the Iranian people will unify around their government. I've heard to many people from Iran who say otherwise.
As such, according to Ross, a context needed to be created whereby the international community believed that military action as a last resort was justified, so that the day after a military action, the international isolation and sanctions against Iran would remain in place to keep them from rebuilding their nuclear program.
Feeling it's justified isn't enough. If Iran doesn't believe you would use it, you (we) have non leverage over them.

Obama may not attack Iran, but hopefully we will, because the alternative is too terrible to contemplate.

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