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Friday, August 31, 2012

TPaw: Time to start clock ticking on Iran

In an interview on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention, Romney campaign co-chair and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty tells Foreign Policy's Josh Rogin that it's time to start the clock ticking on Iran.
Neither the Iranians nor the Israelis see as credible Barack Obama' statements that containment of a nuclear Iran is not an option and that the president would use force to prevent that from happening, Pawlenty told The Cable in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention. A Mitt Romney administration would employ various new tactics to increase U.S. leverage over the Iranians and bolster the credibility of the threat of military action, he said.

"Options would include concluding the negotiations are not working, that the Iranians aren't taking them seriously, bringing them to a temporary or permanent end, and start the clock ticking on other alternatives and letting the Iranians know that," Pawlenty said.


He also warned that Iran may have spread its nuclear research and production facilities into heavily populated civilian areas, which would make a military effort to eliminate Iran's nuclear capabilities much more expansive.

"A lot of the public discourse around how and whether and when there might be military action on Iran focuses on bunker-busting bombs and installations under mountains. That may not only be the only locations where they have those capabilities," said Pawlenty. "Imagine that it's not limited to mountains and rural areas. Imagine that they have created some redundant capabilities and placed them in tunnels under cities. If you want to identify and eliminate those capabilities, it takes on additional challenges."

Pawlenty said the Obama administration resisted imposing crippling sanctions over the last three years and that sanctions even now don't seem to be changing the Iranian regime's calculus.

"We don't know yet, but measured by the Iranians' posture and position, it's fair to say it hasn't yet worked," he said.

Pawlenty endorsed the idea floated by Romney advisor Elliott Abrams last week that now is the time for Congress to pass an authorization of the use of military force against Iran.
Actually, and unfortunately, Pawlenty's prescriptions are kind of meaningless. Unless it is clear by early October that Romney will win the election and will take action, Israel is going to be left with no choice but to attack. Otherwise, if Obama is God forbid reelected, we would be looking at very weak 'containment' of a nuclear Iran (if that), the possibility of blackmail from a second term Obama administration ('go back to the '67 lines or we won't defend you against Iran') and an Israeli inability to act on our own. There is no choice. Iran must be attacked before the election unless it is 100% clear that Romney is going to win.

What could go wrong?

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