Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Iran: The Time Has Come

Ephraim Asculai
INSS Insight No. 158
25 January '10

If its domestic situation were not so serious, Iran's government could be very happy indeed. Iran managed to gain another crucial year in its quest for a nuclear weapons capability, and every passing day brings it closer to its ultimate goal: having the potential to produce deliverable nuclear weapons in short order, if it so decides. It successfully delayed the West from pursuing a more severe sanctions regime, and the West is behaving as if it has all the time in the world. It does not.

How did this come about? Several factors combined to achieve the net result, most of them not of Iran's doing: the election of a new US president who believed in engagement as the sole way to resolve conflicts (and may still want to believe this); the unwillingness, for years, of the IAEA to acknowledge Iran's ultimate goal; the (unclassified) 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that raised the possibility that Iran abandoned its quest for nuclear weapons; the reluctance of the US to assume the lead role in confronting Iran, and letting the EU-3 deal, albeit ineffectively, with the situation; the contrary attitude of Russia and China, which are watching the West struggle to find a solution while throwing it a bone from time to time in supporting some sanctions resolutions that are not achieving their aim; and the exceptional spanner in the works embedded in the quite unproductive suggestion to transfer some of Iran's low enriched uranium (LEU) outside the country and return it as medium enriched uranium fuel for its Tehran Research Reactor. This last statement needs some explanation.

(Read full report)

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