Answer Some Questions Before You Bomb Iran

In no way do I entirely endorse Micah Zenko’s latest post at the Council of Foreign Relations blog, but he does put forth a healthy dose of skepticism about the Iranian nuclear issue and the clambering for war since the IAEA’s latest hyperbolic report. Zenko points out the misleading official lines about Iran being one or two years away from the bomb and how those same warnings have been going on for decades. He also says that, given international monitoring and inspections of Iran’s reactors, “it is virtually impossible that Iran could covertly make, divert, and reprocess spent fuel to make eight kilograms of plutonium, or the ‘special quantity’ amount that the IAEA contends is required for one nuclear weapon.”

He then poses eight questions he thinks Obama must consider before taking the advice of the “growing chorus of hawks and authorizes a preventive attack against Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons facilities”:

  • Are its violations of the NPT, UN Security Council resolutions, and ongoing inadequate cooperation with the IAEA sufficient grounds for suspecting that Iran will soon achieve nuclear weapons capability?
  • Last February, the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified before Congress, stating, “We continue to assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons.” But, “we do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.” What new information has emerged that now confirms senior leaders in Iran have decided to pursue the bomb?
  • It is unlikely that Iran would needlessly test a nuclear weapon, since it would not be required to verify that it worked, and would only rally further international opposition against them. What sort of credible information will the Obama administration declassify and make public that would justify a preventive attack on Iran?
  • Does the Obama administration truly believe what Senator John McCain first said six years ago?: “There’s only one thing worse than the United States exercising a military option. That is a nuclear-armed Iran.”
  • Iranian nuclear ambitions extend back thirty-five years. According to a CIA estimate in 1974: “If other countries have proceeded with [nuclear] weapons development, we have no doubt that Iran will follow suit.” Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta conceded in December that an attack “might postpone [Iran’s nuclear program] maybe one, possibly two years.” Are the costs of a preventive attack worth twelve to twenty-four months of peace of mind?
  • What is the expected air and ground requirements, scope of targets, duration, and financial costs of an attack against Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons facilities?  What percentage of this burden would be met by partners and allies?
  • What is the expected collateral damage and civilian casualties within Iran to such an attack?
  • What is the desired endgame of attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities? What is the plausible diplomatic and military plan for how this happens?

13 thoughts on “Answer Some Questions Before You Bomb Iran”

  1. Excellent points. However, the Iran hysteria has taken root and Dear Leader Obama seems thoroughly determined to gin up another war. The lunatic freaks at the controls of war machine Washington, shoot first and then shoot twice with rhyme and/or logical reason being woefully MIA.

  2. I'd like to add that at this stage in the game, it's all about finding China and Russia's price of cooperation in the UNSC. China is in negotiations for 2012 crude prices with Iran, meanwhile Russian and Vietnamese crude takes up some of the slack. Russia's price may be to call off the regime destabilizers, though ultimately it may just be a new toy they want. Everyone has a price and when money is no object, they will find it. Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then.

  3. One additional comment, The Iranian nuclear program goes back to the Atoms for Peace deal under Eisenhower.

  4. Ever wonder why 'they' keep calling 'The Iranian nuclear program '? That is because this is the best way to confuse people to make them automatically equate 'nuclear program' with nuclear weapon program. A nuclear program can be anything related to nuclear, like a neclear education program or anything else.
    Anyway if Iran really want to develop nuclear weapon, why did they bother to join NPT(NON PROLIFERATION TREATY) . Israel didn't join NPT.
    Anyway even if Iran is developing nuclear weapon, why can't it? Israel has it and so does many other countries. But the important thing is , Iran would never dare to use it unless it is forced upon it. Because it knows it wouldn't survive a counter-attack.

  5. This is easy, responding to the bulleted questions:

    1. 'International Law' has often been used as a pretext and justification for war by those who control it; rather than the high stated goal of preventing it. Apparently Iran is not meeting its current international obligations now, hints the 'sanctions'; therefore, justifying military force under "International Law" will just be a formality doubling as propaganda–as it always is. Other Nations may disagree with their 'crazy' "interpretations" of the 'law'. If so, 'we' can just agree to disagree at the end of the day.

    2. The "new" information is that Iran could (allegedly) theoretically enrich enough uranium to successfully develop a nuclear weapon within a year.

  6. (……)
    3. Mr. Obama will not "declassify" any information. He did not vet the public or Congress before bombing Libya. He didn't even really bring it up. Why would Mr. Obama, or possibly 'Mitt' or 'Newt', burden themselves with the time consuming task of selling the mission if Congressional approval and/or general public support, although nice, is not even required? Doing so seems like a complete waste of time which would seriously cut into important war planning and golf rounds. This is a non-issue.

    4. Who cares what Mr. Obama "thinks" about a 6 year old John McCain quote? Mr. Obama has already made it clear "all options are on the table". A nuclear armed Iran cannot be tolerated under any circumstances. If, and when, the new "diplomatic" sanction effort fails, what ‘option’ will be left other than the "last resort" use of military force? Perhaps Mr. Obama can ask Iran nicely to change regimes and give up their 'nuclear program'—much like his request for the return of the spy drone…which was obviously successful?

  7. (….)
    5. As stated before: a nuclear armed Iran is out of the question, as it would essentially mean the end of the world, therefore: "at any cost and means necessary" is the answer. Although not ideal, perpetually "postponing" Iran's theoretical development of a nuke would meet the desired objective. So…if airstrikes now will only push Iran's nuclear program back 2 years, then naturally another round of military force can/will simply be repeated in two years.

    6. My guess is the desired 'endgame' is Iran's "nuclear program" bombed back to the Stone Age–scientists killed, facilitates reduced to rubble, etc. Maybe there will be a push for "regime change" as well; however, that seems to be bit overreaching and impractical for even the geniuses who currently think this is a good idea.

  8. About the: "expected collateral damage and civilian casualties within Iran to such an attack", since NATO's estimate for Libya is around 40, and seeing as an attack on Iran should be much shorter than 9 months, and much "cleaner" and more professional if carried out by the US rather than the Euroweans, let’s just cut the number in half and say 20 as a worst case scenario… I like round numbers.

  9. WORLD WAR III is fast approaching. When US/NATO/ANZUS/ISREAL go to war with IRAN this will trigger off a FULL SCALE WAR in the MIDDLE EAST and it will also trigger off OIL prices to skyrocket & total WORLDWIDE ECONOMIC COLLAPSE. 1000's of DEADLY FOOD RIOTS will erupt GLOBALLY as with GLOBAL TERRORISM either in NUCLEAR,BIOLOGICAL or NUCLEAR form. The Middle East/Persian Gulf will lay in ruins with death toll in the millions. Uprisings will erupt across the Middle East given the ARAB spring when USA/NATO/ISRAEL go to war with IRAN,SYRIA,EGYPT,LIBYA,HAMAS,HEZBOLLAH,LEBANON and most of that REGION. This violence will spread to places like PAKISTAN as it gets draw closer to a regional NUCLEAR war with INDIA. This violence will spread to places like the KOREAN peninsula.
    As OIL shipping lanes like the HORMUZ and SUEZ get destroyed,as OIL prices skyrocket & World economy collapses, REGIONAL NUCLEAR WARS will erupt on the KOREAN PENINSULA,INDIA AND PAKISTAN. From this chaos RUSSIAN/CHINESE forces will heavily clash with USA/ISRAEL/NATO forces in places like the MIDDLE EAST,KOREA and SE ASIA then FULL SCALE GLOBAL THERMONUCLEAR WILL ERUPT

  10. And the MSM/FCM have been showing those sinister Iranians testing (defensive) missiles a lot over the last 48 hours. How dare they attempt to prepare to defend themselves against a foreign attack!

  11. I’m so happy to read this. This is the kind of manual that needs to be given and not the accidental misinformation that’s at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this very best doc.

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