The International Atomic Energy Agency this week released its most detailed assessment to date about Iran's efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, and if "Paranormal Activity 3" wasn't enough to keep you awake at night, the report's 14-page annex detailing the state of Iran's weapons work should do the trick. It lays to rest the fantasies that an Iranian bomb is many years off, or that the intelligence is riddled with holes and doubts, or that the regime's intentions can't be guessed by their activities.
So much, then, for the December 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which asserted "with high confidence" that Iran had abandoned its nuclear-weapons work in 2003 and ended any chance that the Bush Administration would take action against Iran. So much, too, for the Obama Administration's attempts to move Iran away from its nuclear course, first with diplomatic offers and then with sanctions and covert operations.
Matt Kaminski on the International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran's nuclear development and Mitt Romney's plan on dealing with Iran.
.The serious choice now before the Administration is between military strikes and more of the same. As the IAEA report makes painfully clear, more of the same means a nuclear Iran, possibly within a year.
It's time, then, to consider carefully what that choice means for the United States. In the run-up to the war in Iraq, we wrote that "the law of unintended consequences hasn't been repealed," and that "no war ever goes precisely as planned." That was obviously true of a boots-on-the-ground invasion, but it would also be true of an aerial campaign to demolish or substantially degrade Iran's nuclear facilities.
Planes could be shot down and airmen taken prisoner. Iran could close the Straits of Hormuz, sending energy prices upward. It could conduct a campaign of terror throughout the world, or attack shipping in the Persian Gulf, or fire missiles against U.S. military installations in the region, or spark a war with Israel or another insurgency in Iraq. These are among the contingencies that military planners would have to anticipate, though Iranian leaders would also have to think twice before responding to a strike with attacks that could mean further escalation.
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