Thanks to all those, those many, who wrote in response to my post yesterday on the Iranian conundrum. At this stage, it’s worth, I think, making a few points:
James Bond is not, alas, the answer. Much as I would be delighted if a small group of special forces/James Bonds or the like could somehow cleanly ‘take out’ Iran’s facilities it’s a fantasy, and fantasy is not policy. By all accounts Iran’s facilities are spread out all over the country. For the same reason a clean, clinical ‘Osirak’ type raid is not feasible.
A few (very reluctantly) suggested a conventional attack as an option, but, quite frankly, after Iraq…And that’s before we start to consider (a) the impact on the rest of the Middle East and (b) the likely response in Iran – a country with a true sense of national identity.
Help foment a popular revolt against the mullahs? Well, we’ve been waiting for that revolution to take place for quite some time, and it never seems to happen. Do I think that the theocracy could burn itself out? Yes. But that could take decades. What do we do in the meantime? It should be remembered too that, as one reader points out, that even if the mullahs go, the nukes might not (there’s plenty of evidence that many Iranians like the idea that their country should develop its own nuclear weapons). The choice then is between a nuclear-armed theocracy and a nuclear-armed successor, whatever that might be.
Deterrence? Yes, so far as it goes, that works. I don’t think that the regime would ever launch a nuclear missile at the US, or, for all the fire-breathing, even Israel. Letting some nuclear material ‘accidentally’ slip into the hands of terrorists is, however, an entirely different matter. One reader wrote to say that “since spectography could trace both where the uranium was originally mined as well as how and where it was enriched to make weapons,” deterrence could still work. I’m not enough of a scientist to know whether that’s right.
So, given that the EU’s initiatives will either fail or be meaningless, the question remains, what does the US do?