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February 11, 2010

Ahmadinajad's "Stunning Punch"? How should the U.S. respond?

Topics: Iran, Political News and commentaries

iran-bomb1.jpgAccording to the WaPo, Iran's whacky, obviously emotionally unstable, taqiyya-obsessed, nuclear-obsessed theocrat, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (my description, not theirs) claimed Thursday that Iran has produced its first batch of uranium enriched to a higher level, saying his country will not be bullied by the West into curtailing its nuclear program - only a day after the Obama administration imposed new sanctions:

Ahmadinejad reiterated to hundreds of thousands of cheering Iranians on the anniversary of the 1979 foundation of the Islamic republic that the country was now a "nuclear state," an announcement he's made before. (emphasis mine)

"I want to announce with a loud voice here that the first package of 20 percent fuel was produced and provided to the scientists,"

"We have the capability to enrich uranium more than 20 percent or 80 percent but we don't enrich (to this level) because we don't need it," he said in a speech broadcast live on state television.

And, of course, Ahmadinajad went on to insist that Iran had no intention of building nuclear weapons.

So, is this Ahmadinijad's "stunning punch" to the West? Is Ahmadinajad lying about reaching the 20% level of enrichment? Is he lying about not having an interest in enriching uranium to a level for use in nuclear weapons?

The answers to these questions are easy - it's "yes" to all three, and the odds of winning the dangerous game Iran is playing against the West don't look good - for the West. The time has come for the U.S. to take military action, and the sooner the U.S. takes action, the better.

As Richard Fernandez writes over at the Belmont Club:

What Ahmedinjad is now signalling to all comers is that he will succeed in giving Iran a bomb and Barack Obama will not be able to stop him. After wasting time trying to engage it, and throwing the Lebanese and the Iranian protesters under the bus to improve its bona fides, Washington finds itself with a dwindling set of options, none of which are easy. Can Washington still stop Iran from getting the bomb without running huge risks? What odds would you give Teheran?
From the actions and responses against Iran's actions that we've see from Jimmy Carter to the present day, Iran is winning the game and will most definitely have a nuclear weapon, more like weapon(s), within a year.

Memo to Mr. Obama: How's that "talk to Iran with an unclenched fist" working out for you (and US) now? Not so good, right! When will you realize that by letting Iran acquire a nuclear arsenal poses risks that are simply too great that Iran will become a neighborhood bully or provide terrorists with the ultimate weapon, an atomic bomb.

As for what we should do to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, there's really only one solution. Alan J. Kuperman, the director of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Program at the University of Texas at Austin, has written, incentives and sanctions will not work, but air strikes will:

[...] (Air strikes) could degrade and deter Iran's bomb program at relatively little cost or risk, and therefore are worth a try. They should be precision attacks, aimed only at nuclear facilities, to remind Iran of the many other valuable sites that could be bombed if it were foolish enough to retaliate.

The final question is, who should launch the air strikes? Israel has shown an eagerness to do so if Iran does not stop enriching uranium, and some hawks in Washington favor letting Israel do the dirty work to avoid fueling anti-Americanism in the Islamic world.

But there are three compelling reasons that the United States itself should carry out the bombings. First, the Pentagon's weapons are better than Israel's at destroying buried facilities. Second, unlike Israel's relatively small air force, the United States military can discourage Iranian retaliation by threatening to expand the bombing campaign. (Yes, Israel could implicitly threaten nuclear counter-retaliation, but Iran might not perceive that as credible.) Finally, because the American military has global reach, air strikes against Iran would be a strong warning to other would-be proliferators.

As Kuperman goes on to elaborate, negotiation to prevent nuclear proliferation is always preferable to military action. However, in the face of continued and consistently failed diplomacy, eschewing force is tantamount to appeasement - which is the only thing strategy the U.S. has used so far. We have reached the point where air strikes are the only plausible option with any prospect of preventing Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons. Postponing military action merely provides Iran a window to expand, disperse and harden its nuclear facilities against attack. The sooner the United States takes action, the better.

Posted by Richard at February 11, 2010 6:46 AM

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