The Campaign Spot

Iran Currently Needs Only Two to Three Months to Build a Nuclear Bomb

From the midweek Morning Jolt:

Iran Currently Needs Only Two to Three Months to Build a Nuclear Bomb

Back in 2012, Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic listed thirteen times President Obama pledged, promised, assured and insisted that he and his administration would “never” allow Iran to obtain nuclear arms.

The administration’s line now:

 Iran could be able to obtain a nuclear weapon much more quickly after the first 13 years of the emerging nuclear deal, President Barack Obama acknowledged Tuesday. Yet he said that with no deal, the world would be even less equipped to stop it.

Under the framework announced last week, Iran would be kept at least one year away from a bomb for the first decade of the deal, Obama said as he sought to sell the deal to skeptics. Yet that constraint would stay in place only for 10 years, at which point some restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities would be eased.

“Essentially, we’re purchasing for 13, 14, 15 years assurances that the breakout is at least a year,” Obama said in an NPR News interview. “And then in years 13 and 14, it is possible that those breakout times would have been much shorter. But at that point we have much better ideas about what it is that their program involves.

Breakout time refers to how long it would take to build a bomb if Iran decided to pursue one full-bore — in other words, how long the rest of the world would have to stop it. U.S. intelligence officials estimate Iran’s breakout time is currently two to three months.

This is the nightmare scenario, the culmination of more than a decade of progressives and foreign policy wonks convincing themselves that Iran isn’t really what it appears to be, and that a long, lasting peace can be reached with apocalyptic mullahs with a long history of using terrorism to achieve their goals. The foreign policy “smart set” averts their eyes from Iranian leaders rambling about magical green auras and world leaders not blinking in his presence, chanting “Death to America!” and Israel every Friday, pledges to wipe other countries off the map, and the Iranian regime using children to clear minefields.

In June 2009, Fareed Zakaria, the walking embodiment of the left-leaning foreign policy establishment, declared in cover piece for Newsweek that “Everything you know about Iran is wrong, or at least more complicated than you think,” concluding, “Iran has tended to behave in a shrewd, calculating manner, advancing its interests when possible, retreating when necessary.”

A few weeks later, they crushed the Green Revolution with brutal force, shooting women like Neda in the street.

Later that year, he offered another cover piece, declaring, “After Iran Gets the Bomb . . . The World Won’t End.”

An important exchange between Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal and Hugh Hewitt, discussing the proposed Iran deal:

Stephens: Well, I found people who take themselves seriously who say it’s a good deal, but it’s hard to, the only argument in its favor is that here is, that the basically, a nuclear Iran is going to happen. And this at least puts it off by a number of years. That is to say if you accept that the nuclearization of Iran is a fait accompli, that it is not a grave threat to the region, that it is not an existential threat to Israel, and that it will not ultimately harm American interests, so this puts it off for a few years. That’s, I mean, it’s important to be proleptic in arguments. That’s, I think, the strong case by the supporters of the deal. The real problem, and I think this is the real problem for the supporters, basically the supporters say look, Iran’s going to get a bomb, but quite frankly, it will be neutralized by other Sunni powers perhaps getting their own bomb. A balance of power will spring up in the Middle East, and quite frankly, we want to get out of the Middle East altogether. And the reality is that if Iran gets a bomb, if other Sunni powers, if the contending Sunni powers get a bomb, then the United States is going to become more involved, not less, in an increasingly intractable and dangerous Middle East. So if your interest is trying to minimize the importance of the Middle East in our overall foreign policy, having, allowing Iran to become a threshold nuclear state is just a dreadful way of doing it.

Hewitt: Now critics of the critics of the so-called deal say that we are without alternatives, to which you respond what, Bret Stephens?

Stephens: Well, of course we’re with alternatives. I mean, this is one of the most staggering comments I’ve ever heard. We’re without alternatives only if you accept that there’s no such thing as coercive diplomacy, only if you accept that John Kerry is the most brilliant negotiator the world has ever seen since Mark Cuban or Bismarck. I don’t accept those propositions. Only if you accept that Iran is the strong, is a superpower and America is a weakling that must accept, basically, whatever is handed to it, that’s just completely false. We actually were in a very strong position before the interim agreement in late 2013, because the Iranian economy was moving into freefall, as the President himself says. It was precisely on account of these sanctions that we were able to move Iran to the table. So what the extension, and in fact the strengthening of the sanctions have made the Iranians more pliable, not less, in terms of these negotiations. You know, people say we had sort of maxed out on sanctions, but that’s actually the furthest thing from the truth. We were only getting started in terms of the sanctions, in terms of the ways we could have damaged the Iranian economy, and basically said to them you can have an economy or you can have a bomb. But you can’t have both. We abandoned that leverage back in November, 2013, which is why I denounced the joint, the interim agreement. And now we find ourselves with this terrible deal. If you had, again, the kind of sanctions backed by a realistic threat of military force, then we could have had a much, much stronger deal that would not have allowed them to keep the Fordow facility open, that would not have allowed them to maintain such a robust enrichment capability, that would have insisted on snap, anytime, anywhere, no notice inspections. These are the sorts, that’s the sort of leverage we could have exerted if Obama hadn’t just given it up as the first order of business.

Hewitt: Now I want to talk specifically, because I think you’re right. You have to confront the best argument of the other side in order to be persuasive. Their best argument is that we are suggesting military force, to which I respond yes. The tanker war by Reagan, President Clinton’s Desert Fox campaign against Saddam, are examples of military force of a limited duration that would be applicable in this situation. Am I wrong, Bret Stephens, that those are far short of the sort of war that people say we are suggesting?

Stephens: Yeah, I mean, this is the classic Obama method, which is there is my reasonable, sound, decent alternative that perhaps has a few small flaws on the edges, and there’s your way, which is essentially nuclear Armageddon, and that’s just, it’s just a, it’s a cheap way of arguing that should be beneath any president of the United States, especially presumably one who is sort of trying to win over some members of his loyal opposition. But it’s also, strictly speaking, absolutely false.

So the plan of our Nobel Peace Prize-winning president is to start a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, hoping that the strategy of mutually-assured destruction that worked in the Cold War (but came close to failing!) will work there.

Most Popular

Education

Our Bankrupt Elite

Every element of the college admissions scandal, a.k.a “Operation Varsity Blues,” is fascinating. There are the players: the Yale dad who, implicated in a securities-fraud case, tipped the feds off to the caper; a shady high-school counselor turned admissions consultant; the 36-year-old Harvard grad who ... Read More
Culture

Shibboleth Is a Fun Word

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Estimado Lector (y todos mis amigos a través del Atlántico), Greetings from Barcelona. And it is Bar•ce•lona, not Barth•e•lona. That ... Read More