Arms Control Wonk Dr. Jeffrey Lewis is wrapping up his blog trilogy on the Iranian nuclear threat. And he's doing it with a bang. Or, rather, a series of precision-guided bangs. The last post is on whether the U.S. (or its allies) could take out Tehran's atomic program, if they needed to.
Conventional wisdom states that Irans facilities are too dispersed to permit a strike like the one Israel conducted against Iraqs Osiraq nuclear reactor in 1981...Irans facilities are more dispersed, but some key assets are probably quite vulnerable to an airstrike... Overall, I think the prospects for a strike are mixed a properly timed strike might delay Irans program by a few years, although there are good reasons to think that the long-term result of a strike would be to worsen Americas security...There is certainly no reason to launch a strike now, with Irans program several years off and many facilities not yet complete. As the cases of Natanz and Esfahan illustrate, a strike now would be conducted with more uncertainty than I would like.That might buy some additional time but for what?The result will likely be an Iranian nuclear program outside of IAEA safeguards. An Iranian bomb is not, yet, a foregone conclusion. The degree to which Irans nuclear program has become an element of the countrys domestic politics suggests that fissures exist within Iranian elites that create space for negotiations... If thats true, an airstrike now would probably unite Iranians, galvanizing support for a bomb program... Newsweek reports that participants have not been pleased with the outcome of airstrikes in IC sponsored wargames. An Air Force source told Newsweek that The war games were unsuccessful at preventing the conflict from escalating...All and all, at least for now, I think its best to keep talking.