Saturday, April 15, 2006

Pyramid Scheme

Is it my imagination or have the Iranians been at least ten years away from getting nuclear weapons in the judgment of experts for at least fifteen years now?

In any case, let's assume Iran is indeed ten years away from getting nuclear weapons. Why is this comforting? First of all, it kind of assumes they are pursuing nuclear technology for nuclear weapons and so negotiations will fail even if they go on ten years.

But more practically, wouldn't stopping Iran on the eve of weaponizing nuclear capabilities be far more difficult than it would today? And to a far greater degree than stopping Iran today is more difficult than it would have been ten or fifteen years ago?

Consider that I've read that we'd need to hit 1,500 aim points in an aerial campaign to disrupt Iran's nuclear infrastructure. This adds in lots of non-nuclear stuff to the target list since there are too many nuclear targets to just rush in, hit the nuclear target, and get out before the Iranians are wise to the attack. The sheer breadth of targets in the nuclear facilities category means we must suppress air defenses and then hit assets that could command and control and counter-attack! This is surely consistent with my view that any campaign will look an awful lot like a war and not at all like Israel's strike on Iraq's Osirak reactor or even our own Desert Fox four-day campaign against Iraq in 1998.

Consider that when Iran first decided to go nuclear years ago, we might have assassinated that first official to propose it and killed the project at birth. Or what if we had denied their students the ability to study nuclear physics? Again, stopped at the start. Or refused to let Iran have nuclear reactors?

But now, "ten years" from Iran's nuclear weapons point, Israel cannot do the job and we must contemplate a campaign that will only set them back for some unknown period of time--but cannot stop them.

How much more difficult will it be to stop Iran if negotiations fail over the next ten years? When facilities are more dispersed with back-up facilities--some in foreign countries perhaps? When the knowledge base is spread throughout the country with scientists and technicians widely educated and trained? When nuclear materials are scattered around the country? And when facilities to enrich uranium are all working full blast? And you think we get grief for using depleted uranium rounds now? Can you imagine the reaction to our attacks when radiation is scattered because of our attacks?

Do you doubt that opponents of action today will be even more opposed to an attack because of these greater difficulties? And don't think that pointing out that their objections to action in 2006 will have made action in 2015 so much more difficult will make any difference. No, we'd get more learned articles about how we need to learn to love the Iranian atomic bomb.

Opponents of using force now if Iran will not absolutely renounce nuclear weapons technology and let trusted inspectors prowl that country at will and forever are peddling a pyramid scheme to us. I don't believe we have ten years to act even if we have ten years before Iran has nuclear weapons. We must take down Iran. Soon.

Lovely decade we're having, eh?