Sending the Wrong Signals to Iran

(Washington Post) Editorial - Iran has been showing signs of increasing nervousness about the possibility that its nuclear program will come under attack by Israel or the U.S. From the West's point of view, this alarm is good: The more Iran worries about a military attack, the more likely it is to scale back its nuclear activity. The only occasion in which Tehran froze its weaponization program came immediately after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, when it feared it might be the next American target. What doesn't make sense is a public spelling out of reasons against military action - like that delivered by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last Friday. Alarmed Iranian leaders could well conclude that they have no reason for concern after all. The administration is resisting pressure from allies such as France and from Congress to sanction the Iranian central bank. The administration's stance resembles Mr. Panetta's message. In effect, it is signaling that it is determined to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon - unless it means taking military or diplomatic risks, or paying an economic price.

2011-12-09 00:00:00

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