mm092: Nuclear proliferation – The riddle of Iran –

July 31, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

A week has passed since I found this analysis in The Economist, the best magazine on the planet, an eternity in the ‘Sphere, but this is too important to let go by.

The morass in Iraq has distracted us from the very real danger represented by a nuclear Iran…

Jul 19th 2007
From The Economist print edition

Iran’s leaders think a nuclear weapon could rejuvenate their tired revolution. How can they be stopped?

“THE Iranian regime is basically a messianic apocalyptic cult.” So says Israel’s once and perhaps future prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu. If he is right the world is teetering on the edge of a terrifying crisis.

While the world has been distracted by Iraq, Afghanistan and much else, Iran has been moving relentlessly closer to the point where it could build an atomic bomb. It has converted yellowcake into uranium hexafluoride gas. Now it is spinning the gas through thousands of centrifuges it has installed at the underground enrichment plant it built secretly in Natanz, south of Tehran. A common guess is that if it can run 3,000 centrifuges at high speed for a year, it will end up with enough fuel for its first bomb….

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Shockingly, Iran has been lying to all of us. What can the civilized world do? Deal with Iran preemptively? As the Economist notes, such a preemptive strike from the US or Israel would have dire consequences:

Even if it delayed or stopped Iran’s nuclear programme, it would knock new holes in America’s relations with the Muslim world. And if only for the sake of their domestic political survival, Iran’s leaders would almost certainly hit back. Iran could fire hundreds of missiles at Israel, attack American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, organise terrorist attacks in the West or choke off tanker traffic through the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s oil windpipe. How could any Western leader in his right mind risk initiating such a sequence of events?

The succinct answer of Senator John McCain is that although attacking Iran would be bad, an Iran with nuclear weapons would be worse. He is not alone: most of America’s presidential candidates would consider military force….

The Economist’s writer believes that a diplomatic solution is still possible:

Iran is obstinate, paranoid and ambitious. But it is also vulnerable. A young population with no memory of the revolution is desperate for jobs its leaders have failed to provide. Sanctions that cut off equipment for its decrepit oilfields or struck hard at the financial interests of the regime and its protectors in the Revolutionary Guards would have an immediate impact on its own assessment of the cost of its nuclear programme. That on its own is unlikely to change the regime’s mind. If at the same time Iran was offered a dignified ladder to climb down—above all a credible promise of an historic reconciliation with the United States—the troubled leadership of a tired revolution might just grab it. But time is short.

Copyright © 2007 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.

Sensible advice, and based on past performance, we can have no confidence whatsoever that the diplomatic all stars running our government have any clue how to resolve this issue with any positive outcome.

George, diplomacy is more than sending Condi on a flurry of pointless excursions.

But, no matter who becomes the next Cmdr-in-Chief, the Economist reminds us that this issue won’t wait until January 20, 2009.

Okay, I’m terrified.

It’s it for now. Thanks,