Tuesday, December 13, 2005

In the End, It is Our Job

Resolving the Iran question will not wait years as we've been reassured for so long. Iran stalled for time and they've nearly gotten enough. Indeed, I sometimes think that the Euros want Iran to go nuclear so they can finally just give up their "let's pretend" talks with the Iranians. The Euros want to be fooled until it is too late in order to be spared the task of stopping Iran.

So Israel, which cannot afford to live in a make-believe world where nutball mullahs would never dream of using nukes, and who bought some precision weapons from America useful for going after buried nuclear facilities, may strike by spring:

Defence sources in Israel believe the end of March to be the “point of no return” after which Iran will have the technical expertise to enrich uranium in sufficient quantities to build a nuclear warhead in two to four years.

“Israel — and not only Israel — cannot accept a nuclear Iran,” Sharon warned recently. “We have the ability to deal with this and we’re making all the necessary preparations to be ready for such a situation.”

The order to prepare for a possible attack went through the Israeli defence ministry to the chief of staff. Sources inside special forces command confirmed that “G” readiness — the highest stage — for an operation was announced last week.

The threats from a nuclear-armed Iran are real:

As Iran edges closer to acquiring a nuclear bomb and its missiles extend an ever darker diplomatic shadow over the Middle East and Europe, Iran is likely to pose three threats. First, Iran could dramatically up the price of oil by interfering with the free passage of vessels in and through the Persian Gulf as it did during the 1980s or by threatening to use terrorist proxies to target other states’ oil facilities. Second, it could diminish American influence in the Gulf and Middle East by increasing the pace and scope of terrorist activities against Iraq, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf states, Israel, and other perceived supporters of the United States. Finally, it could become a nuclear proliferation model for the world and its neighbors (including many states that otherwise would be more dependent on the United States for their security) by continuing to insist that it has a right to make nuclear fuel under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and then withdrawing once it decides to get a bomb.

Yet this volume is focused on coping with a nuclear-armed Iran and not stopping them from going nuclear. Indeed, one part argues Israel cannot bomb their way to security since the Iranians have learned from the Osirak experience. Israel is not capable of carrying out a sustained aerial campaign to destroy dispersed sites. I tend to agree with this assessment unless there is some critical component whose destruction will buy more time. Perhaps the Israelis think they've identified such a component. Or maybe they think they have to roll the dice.

Remember, maybe we can deter Iran from using nuclear weapons against us, but nuclear weapons are a shield behind which Iran can attack us at the sub-nuclear level secure that we will not use major force against them lest Iran use nukes.

At worst, of course, Iran will nuke somebody:

We assume, as Neville Chamberlain, Lord Halifax and other civilized men did 70 years ago, that these chaps may be a little excitable, but come on, old boy, they can't possibly mean it, can they? Wrong. They mean it but they can't quite do it yet. Like Hitler, when they can do it, they will -- or at the very least the weedy diplo-speak tells them they can force the world into big concessions on the fear that they can.

We must stop Iran from going nuclear and we can't rely on Israel to do it. Indeed, leaving it to Israel to try and then fail will give us the worst of both worlds. A nuclear Iran and an Arab world that will be angry for attacking a Moslem state.

But if we do this right, a lot of Arab states will be happy that the Shia Persians do not have an "Islamic bomb." Not all Islamic states are created equally and depending on the circumstances of the disarming, we could get a lot of gratitude or at least muted condemnation.

We cannot let the Iranian regime go nuclear. There is no living with such a dangerous regime.