February 16, 2012

Gaming Iran, Europe, US, and Israel

For the past decade, Israeli and American officials -- and even Europeans -- have offered differing and changing estimates of when Iran might achieve a nuclear weapons capability, or even just when it will cross the threshold of having everything it needs on its own. Has Iran's program been so uneven, that these estimates keep changing? Yes, and no.

It's true, sanctions and other distractions (see under: Stuxnet) may undermine Iran's abilities to proceed, but the fact that different politicians and intelligence officials from different countries can't seem to agree, reflects something more tactical. If Iran is perilously close to a breakthrough -- say, less than one year away -- the Europeans can argue that it's already too late for further sanctions. On the other hand, if Iran is more than two years away, then what's so urgent about sanctions, anyway?? Part of the variation in U.S. and Israeli estimates is geared toward this sweet spot of European urgency.

Washington has an interest in delaying -- or determining -- the timing of a hypothetical Israeli attack against Iran's facilities, so better to say Iran isn't even close. Maybe Iran hasn't even yet decided whether to really go all the way... Of course, it's continuing the program, "just in case".

The Israelis will never be satisfied that any U.S. President is really on their side with this issue, so they need to keep us guessing.

Whatever any government or individual says, it stands to reason that Iran is pursuing its nuclear program as fast as it can. It's suffering mightily -- financially and politically -- so it may as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment