America's Iranian Self-Deception

(Wall Street Journal) Frederick W. Kagan and Maseh Zarif - There is no case to be made that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapons capability. There is no evidence that Iran's decision-makers are willing to stop the nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions or anything else. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported on Friday that it has made no progress in its negotiations with Iran and that Iran continues to accelerate its enrichment operations, which are in violation of UN Security Council resolutions and agreements with the IAEA. Yet the prospect of war with Iran is so distasteful that people are desperate to persuade themselves that the problem is not serious. IAEA inspectors on the ground at Iran's nuclear facilities reported on Friday that Iran's inventory of centrifuges enriching uranium isotopes has been steadily expanding, along with the stockpiles of enriched uranium. Iran is also developing techniques and technologies needed to turn weapons-grade uranium (which it is not yet producing) into an atomic bomb. Iran's behavior makes sense only if its leadership is determined to have a nuclear program that can develop and field atomic weapons. The statements and actions of Iran's leaders - juxtaposing bellicosity with offers of negotiations - make perfect sense if they are intended to cover the acquisition of a nuclear weapons capability. The Iranians are advancing technically as fast as they can to acquire the fuel for a nuclear bomb. They also are pursuing key elements of a weaponization program separately and covertly. Add it up any way you like: Iran is starting to race to reach a breakout point at which the international community will be unable to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons, short of a massive American military strike. The evidence available supports no other conclusion. Neither American nor Israeli nor any Western interest is served by lying to ourselves and pretending the predicament will go away. Mr. Kagan is director of the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute. Mr. Zarif is research manager at the Critical Threats Project and leads its Iran team.

2012-02-27 00:00:00

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