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Iran and the bomb

So, the IAEA will release its report later this week, and its expected to detail what Iran has done.  So far, early reports (this from the NYT) indicate it may reveal the following:

IF the leaks are an accurate predictor of the final product, the report will describe in detail the evidence the I.A.E.A. has amassed suggesting that Iran has conducted tests on nuclear trigger devices, wrestled with designs that can miniaturize a nuclear device into the small confines of a warhead, and conducted abstruse experiments to spark a nuclear reaction. Most likely, the agency will stop short of accusing Iran of running a bomb program; instead, it will use the evidence to demand answers that it has long been refused about what it delicately calls “possible military dimensions” of the nuclear program.

The big question is what will happen: Does some country bomb Iran prior to Iran developing an nuclear bomb (not guaranteed, btw) or does the Israel and everyone else allow Iran to acquire the bomb (again, not guaranteed Iran will ever develop a working nuclear bomb)? Many appear to be concluding that it’s “do or die” now, and to forestall further would lead to a 21st century holocaust.  From David Remnick:

The country’s most influential columnist, Nahum Barnea, wrote a front-page commentary in Yediot Ahronoth recently called “Atomic Pressure,” slamming Netanyahu and Barak for acting dangerously and without a thorough public discussion. Barnea, who is as connected a journalist as I have ever met, tried to describe Netanyahu’s thinking: “Ahmadinejad is Hitler; if he isn’t stopped in time, there will be another Holocaust.” He continued, “There are those who describe Netanyahu’s attitude on the matter as an obsession: All his life he dreamed of being Churchill; Iran gives him the opportunity.”

Others, however, advocate caution.  Jeffrey Lewis, at ACW, writes that “Whatever sort of game it is, it’s one of inches and half-inches, of years and perhaps decades to come.”

The dangers from a direct attack are numerous.  Again, from Remnick: “At the same time, the potential dangers of a strike are clear: a prolonged and bloody regional war; attacks on Israel from Gaza and Lebanon; the closing of the Strait of Hormuz, a main world oil transport lane; a sharp rise in energy prices with disastrous effects on the world economy.”

So far, it appears that at least two tactics that have become public have been tried to retard Iran’s progress on the bomb: (1) the assassination (or buttbuttination for those website filters that don’t like the word “ass”) of one Iranian scientist and the attempted assassination of another, 20 minutes apart, in Tehran, and (2) stuxnet. Blame for (1) mostly centers on Israel, with (2) being credited either the U.S., Israel, or both.   It is estimated that these delayed Iranian ambitions by maybe 1-2 years, at most.

This in turn may be the inspiration for Iranian counterattacks in the form of political assassinations.  It is alleged that Iran attempted to assassinate a Saudi ambassador in DC.

I’m reminded of a book “Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States”  In it, Trita Parsi chronicles the historical relationship between Israel and Iran and notes how strong it was for the majority of Israel’s existence.  Both countries were outsiders in the middle east (Israel because it is Jewish, Iran because it is Persian).  While this “friendship” was not always in the open, it remained strong through many trying times (there’s still an active, though small, Jewish population in Iran).  To that extent, I hope that this current antagonistic period will revert back to the more friendly terms that previously existed.  However, that does not appear likely to happen anytime soon.  Instead, it appears that the next alliance for Israel may be with Arab nations now over the mutual threat posed by Iran.

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