Containment, Not Prevention, Is the Real U.S. Policy on Iranian Nukes

(Wall Street Journal) Bret Stephens - The Obama administration's policy on Iran's nuclearization is containment, not prevention. Last week at the Brookings Institution, President Obama said, "We are stopping the advancement of the Arak facility," referring to Iran's construction of a plutonium reactor. The reality, as Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif pointed out, is that "construction will continue" at Arak. Tehran has merely undertaken not to fuel the reactor for at least six months. "There's nothing in this agreement or document that grants Iran a right to enrich," Mr. Obama said. The reality is that the Geneva deal allows Iran to continue to enrich uranium, and it specifies that a final accord "would involve a mutually defined enrichment program." So Geneva doesn't "grant" Iran a right to enrich. It merely accepts it de facto and envisions it de jure. Israel and Saudi Arabia understand the game Iran intends to play: accept modest, time-limited and reversible constraints on their nuclear program. Exchange them for broad concessions by the U.S. Eventually, the West will get used to the idea of Iran with borderline nuclear capability gradually extending its influence in the region as American influence recedes. The argument is now being made that a containment policy beats the unforeseen risks associated with stopping Iran by force. People who dine in Washington eateries that only recently Tehran made plans to blow up should not concede this point so cavalierly. If Iran was prepared to aggress that way without the benefit of a nuclear umbrella, just imagine how it will behave with one.

2013-12-10 00:00:00

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