So what's a blogger to write about when last night's Republican debate didn't touch on his topic of interest, and as a native Pennsylvanian (and human being) he's simply too horrified to comment on the situation up in Happy Valley? Well, I suppose a topic that lies somewhere between a political conversation most notable for a fading candidate's forgetfulnessand the most appalling sex scandal in collegiate history...
In other words, let's chat about Iran's emergent nuclear weapons program, and what the heck we can do stop it.
First, let me lay the groundwork. And please, hold onto your seats, folks...I'm about to totally shift your perception of the Islamic Republic: IRAN'S NUCLEAR AMBITIONS ARE NOT LIMITED TO DOMESTIC POWER PRODUCTION.
Perhaps you require a moment to collect yourself. This news may come as quite shocking to anyone who hasn't picked up a newspaper, accessed the internet, turned on the television or left their basement in the past thirty-odd years.
Of course, everyone else in America already knew what the International Atomic Energy Commission (IAEA) recently confirmed -- Iran has been secretly engaged in behaviors that suggest intent to construct a nuclear weapon that can be delivered by means of a missile warhead. This report comes from the United Nations' nuclear organ, which had previously kept mum on the topic.
Obviously, our suspicions here in the States are confirmed, but a report of this nature can sway world opinion. I expect it will deepen Iranian isolation. And it will complicate preposterous claims from Tehran that its goal was merely sustained nuclear fission to generate heat and smiles inside their wretched theocracy.
Tensions are flaring. Perhaps the only thing less shocking than proof-positive of Iran's nefarious goals was President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's humdrum accusations that the IAEA works in collusion with the American Great Satan.
Equally unsurprising? France, Britain and Germany have offered to join the United States in "seeking new ways to pressure Iran," while Russia and China oppose new sanctions. What else is new?
But while we're discussing the obvious, can we agree that sanctions aren't getting the job done? We've imposed similar measures for years that have been conspicuously more successful at suffocating a potential middle-class opposition than undermining an unfriendly regime.
What's our leverage here? Opposition to the United States and Israel are the founding principles of Iranian political identity. Grand Ayatollah Khamane'i reacted to Gaddafi's ouster by chiding him for surrendering his nuclear program. Suffice to say, rapprochement is currently off the table.
I'm not a physicist, and I certainly won't pretend to know the time horizon for a nuclear Iran. However, I do know that when you talk about building an atomic bomb, it means you need to kick off a complex series of combustible events to detonate a device containing refined nuclear material. The IAEA report doesn't suggest Iran will have this capability within days or weeks, but it's in everyone's best interest to assume the worse.
Our options are limited, but if the United States or one of her allies acts it won't be on account of this new report. Rather, it will be based on cost-benefit analysis of the far-reaching consequences of attacking nuclear facilities in Iran. Israel wasn't afraid to strike a Syrian nuclear facility with military purpose in 2007. At the time, there were whispers that Operation Orchard was a crucial dry run for a similar Iranian mission. My guess is they're still gauging their decisions on a similar rubric.
Only time will tell, and we're likely running short of that...
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