I laughed when Drudge put the siren up for this, not because the news is predictable but because the think tank that issued the report actually has been predicting it for years. How slow has this slow-motion trainwreck been? May 2006: IISS pronounces Iranian nukes “inevitable.” January 2007: IISS warns that Iran could have the bomb in two years. May 2007: IISS describes how Iran’s built its own nuclear black market, one which, if the Times of London is to be believed, is now suddenly running low on yellowcake. Too late, alas:
Iran will have enough enriched uranium to make a single nuclear weapon later this year, the prestigious International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) predicts…
However, the survey reports doubts over US Intelligence estimates that Iran halted its work on nuclear weapons six years ago.
This points to Tehran’s continued development of long-range ballistic missiles able to reach targets in Israel and beyond.
The IISS recommends a mixture of carrot and stick as the best international response.
The boldfaced part is, of course, a reference to the garbage NIE that tied Bush’s hands by claiming Iran no longer had a weapons program, even while the classified version acknowledged suspicions that they had fully a dozen or so covert nuclear sites that had never been visited by inspectors. Now it’s The One’s mess, and while we keep hearing about carrots, we don’t hear so much about sticks. Here’s the most significant exchange from his otherwise Bushian Al-Arabiya interview. What’s missing?
Q Will the United States ever live with a nuclear Iran? And if not, how far are you going in the direction of preventing it?
THE PRESIDENT: You know, I said during the campaign that it is very important for us to make sure that we are using all the tools of U.S. power, including diplomacy, in our relationship with Iran.
Now, the Iranian people are a great people, and Persian civilization is a great civilization. Iran has acted in ways that’s not conducive to peace and prosperity in the region: their threats against Israel; their pursuit of a nuclear weapon which could potentially set off an arms race in the region that would make everybody less safe; their support of terrorist organizations in the past — none of these things have been helpful.
But I do think that it is important for us to be willing to talk to Iran, to express very clearly where our differences are, but where there are potential avenues for progress. And we will over the next several months be laying out our general framework and approach. And as I said during my inauguration speech, if countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us.
Not so much as a perfunctory “Iranian nukes are unacceptable.” In fact, Reuel Marc Gerecht pleads with Leon Panetta today in WaPo to beef up the CIA’s Iran intelligence, not in the expectation that it’ll stop Iranian nukes but in the belief that those nukes are now unstoppable and that we’d better get good at containment fast. Exit question: Do we dare start a pool for when news first breaks that Iran’s got the bomb? I’m guessing October.