Saturday, March 22, 2008

Cheney’s Tour and the Buzz on Attacking Iran

US Vice-President Dick Cheney’s 10-day tour of the Persian Gulf, Turkey and Afghanistan is renewing concerns of a US and/or Israeli military attack on Iran.

During his tour, Cheney has been presenting a case against Iran that could be used by the US administration either to launch an attack on Iran, or to encourage Israel to initiate the military action. Cheney’s message:

· Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.
· A nuclear Iran would destabilize the region.
· The 2007 NIE does say that Iran had an active nuclear weapon program that was stopped in 2003.
· Iran could have since re-started its nuclear weaponization program.
· Iran has certainly continued its enrichment program, which is the key to any weaponization project.

President Bush also said on Wednesday that Iran could be hiding a secret nuclear weapon program. The president suggested that Iran’s goal in building the nuclear weapon is to destroy Israel.

Vice-President Cheney’s 10-day tour of the region and his Iran warnings, combined with the comments made by President Bush at the White House and simultaneous comments by French President Nicolas Sarkozy that Europe’s security was at stake due to Iranian threat, have raised concerns among Iran analysts that a military attack on Iran during the last months of Bush administration is still possible, and increasingly probable.

Israel, and not the US, could initiate the attack. Israel would have better justifications for demolishing the Iranian nuclear facilities. US could provide intelligence and logistic support and could encourage Israel to undertake the military action.

The US presidential elections could also be a factor in the administration’s decision to support an attack on Iran. The conservatives could view a military attack later this year on Iranian nuclear facilities as a guarantee to stop Obama’s presidency.


Joseph Sixpack said...

I found your blog via Ghost of Patrick Henry. I'll be a regular reader.

I don't understand the last sentence of your post. Do you mean that if we attack Iran then voters will be turned off from Obama on account of his inexperience? Or do you mean that there is sufficient desire to attack Iran that conservatives will rally and vote against Obama? Or something else?

Regarding Cheney's comments, these all sound like justifications to levy sanctions and take other measures to thwart Iranian interests in the region. I just don't see how we could hope to accomplish anything in an attack on Iran in light of our commitments in Iraq/Afghanistan/elsewhere. Do you think that Iran truly is on the cusp of developing nuclear weapons within the next five years or so?

I sometimes wonder if our position is as follows...
1. We think Iran is exaggerating.
2. Iran's exaggerations allow us to levy sanctions against Iran under the guise of non-proliferation.
3. Iran thinks that we believe their exaggerations and thus takes our military threats seriously, giving us additional leverage over them.

Nader Uskowi said...

joseph sixpack, Welcome!

On Obama, what I meant was that any attack on Iran could make national security the dominant issue in the general elections, and could help McCain.

On Iran, the Bush administration and the Israelis do believe that Iran wants to make the bomb and the Israelis believe Iran could indeed make the bomb in less than five years.

I have no information on the stage of Iran’s weaponization program, but it seems odd for the country to insist on uranium enrichment program when it does not need the product for many years to come. Iran’s only nuclear reactor is being built in Bushehr, and the Russians have already sent uranium fuel needed for the project. Completion of any additional reactors is more than a decade away.

On military attack on Iranian nuclear installations, I do not believe this is the answer. a) military attack might not be able to destroy all of Iran’s nuclear capacity, b) Iran can always rebuild the facilities.