Well, as a result of the "withdrawal" – forced this week by the Israel Lobby – of Charles Freeman as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, we now know how the Washington Institute for Near East Policy had the temerity to issue [.pdf] last week what we foolishly previously thought was only advice to President Obama;
"If the international community appears unable to stop Iran's nuclear progress, Israel may decide to act unilaterally. Whatever Americans may think, Israeli leaders seem convinced that at least for now, they have a military option.
"However, Israelis see the option fading over the next one to two years, not only because of Iran's nuclear progress and dispersion of its program but also because improved Iranian air defenses, especially the expected delivery of the S-300 surface-to-air missile system from Russia, are seen by Israel as seriously limiting its military options.
"Israel therefore may feel compelled to act before the option disappears."
So, now that we know the WINEP "Presidential Task Force" was actually telling – not merely advising – our newly elected President what to do, read on.
"Russia argues that its potential transfer of the S-300 air-defense system to Iran [to defend the multi-billion-dollar nuclear power plant Russia has just built at Bushehr] is stabilizing because it would greatly complicate any Israeli plans to strike Iran. However, this approach gives rise to the grave risk that Israel could feel compelled to act before the cost of doing so is too high."
Translation? Don’t allow the Iranians to defend themselves against an Israeli attack. Bargain with the Russians. Offer, for example, to cancel the U.S. anti-ballistic missile system slated to be sited in Poland if Russia will agree to cancel the slated transfer of the five Russian S-300PMU-2 anti-missile/aircraft systems to Iran.
(According to some reports, Iran and Syria already have more than a few of the less capable S-300PMU-1 anti-missile/aircraft systems and there have been suggestions that the August 2007 Israeli attack on a "suspected nuclear site" in Syria may have been, in reality, a demonstration of Israel’s ability to defeat that same system in Iran.)
But Russian President Medvedev told reporters that presenting the ABM-system cancellations as some sort of "exchange" was "not productive."
Nevertheless, perhaps grasping at straws, the Jerusalem Post has reported that "a Moscow source" says the "possibility" of a "freeze" on the sale of the "state of the art" S-300 system "cannot be ruled out."
Well, that’s a relief. Because, according to the WINEP Presidential Task Force –
"If the transfer proceeds, Washington should rebalance the strategic equation through more sophisticated arms transfers. That is, if Iran deploys advanced air defenses, the United States should promptly provide Israel with the capabilities to continue to threaten high-value Iranian targets –for instance, with more modern aircraft."
Translation? The Israelis believe that, with only Iran’s existing air-defense system in place, they can launch – in flagrant violation of UN Security Council Resolution 487 – with impunity, yet another premeditated attack upon facilities subject to a Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
UNSCR 487 reads, in part;
"Deeply concerned about the danger to international peace and security created by the premeditated Israeli air attack on Iraqi nuclear installations on 7 June 1981, which could at any time explode the situation in the area, with grave consequences for the vital interests of all States,
"Considering that, under the terms of Article 2, paragraph 4, of the Charter of the United Nations: 'All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations,'
- "Strongly condemns the military attack by Israel in clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the norms of international conduct;
- Calls upon Israel to refrain in the future from any such acts or threats thereof;
- Further considers that the said attack constitutes a serious threat to the entire IAEA safeguards regime which is the foundation of the non-proliferation Treaty;"
Now, back then, in 1981, the United States voted for UNSCR 487, thereby strongly condemning the attack by Israel in clear violation of the UN Charter.
Furthermore, back then, we called upon Israel to refrain in the future from even threatening such attacks.
Finally, back then, we considered that any such future attack would effectively put an end to the entire NPT-IAEA nuke proliferation-prevention regime.
But then – according to Mearsheimer and Walt –
"The [Israel] Lobby created its own think tank in 1985, when Martin Indyk helped to found the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). Although WINEP plays down its links to Israel, claiming instead to provide a 'balanced and realistic' perspective on Middle East issues, it is funded by individuals deeply committed to advancing Israel's agenda."
So, is WINEP now calling for Israel to refrain from even threatening to "preventively" attack Iranian IAEA Safeguarded facilities.
And, does WINEP, now, consider that an actual premeditated attack by Israel on Iran’s IAEA Safeguarded facilities would sound the death-knell for the IAEA-NPT nuke proliferation-prevention regime?
Well, no, according to WINEP, it is Iran’s insistence upon exercising its "inalienable rights" – affirmed by the NPT, the IAEA Statue and the Iranian Safeguards Agreement – that will sound that death-knell.
"If Iran 'gets away' at low cost with years of safeguards violations and defiance of UN Security Council resolutions, nonproliferation norms likely will further erode across the globe. Other countries may consider taking the same path, especially if Iran's programs gain legitimacy."
Never mind that "violations" of any Safeguards Agreement can result from improper application of health and safety regulations, and in Iran’s case, all "violations" – once alleged – have been speedily corrected.
Never mind that Iran – as well as most of the member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and of the Non-Aligned Movement – consider the Security Council resolutions in question to be contrary to the UN Charter.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki had this to say two years ago when he was finally allowed to address the Security Council, after UNSCR 1747 had already passed.
"There is every reason to assert that the Security Council's consideration of the Iranian peaceful nuclear program has no legal basis, since the referral of the case to the Council [by the IAEA Board] and then the adoption of resolutions [by the UNSC] fail to meet the minimum standards of legality.
"Iran's peaceful nuclear activities cannot, by any stretch of law, fact or logic, be characterized as a threat to peace."
Unless, of course, you happen to be a member of the motley crew that has just signed on to WINEP’s "Preventing a Cascade of Instability: U.S. Engagement to Check Iranian Nuclear Progress."