Analysis by Ben Frankel
Short of unforeseen developments, the real decision U.S., Israeli, and European leaders will face in 2012 is not whether to use military means or other means to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons or the capability to produce them; the real decision, rather, will be between using military means to stop Iran’s confident march toward the bomb, and accepting the reality of a nuclear-armed Iran; those who support a military attack on Iran argue that the choice is thus between two very bad options: a nuclear armed Iran or a war to prevent it from going nuclear; each of these options has its costs, but the costs of allowing Iran to become a nuclear weapon state far outweigh the costs of using a military attack to prevent it from becoming one
The coming year will likely be the year during which a decision is made as to whether or not to use military action to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
To be more precise: Iran may well decide that it would serve its interests better to stop short of building a bomb, and instead be in a position where it is one screw turn away from the bomb. This is a stage at which it has sufficient amount of highly enriched uranium for several bombs, a credible warhead design and the machining capabilities to put it together, and the missiles to carry nuclear warheads to their targets. At that stage, Iran will be able to produce nuclear weapons within a few short months after making the decision to do so.
The decision for those who do not want to see a nuclear-armed Iran must thus include not only the determination of whether or not to prevent Iran from actually building a bomb, but also a determination regarding what bomb building-related capabilities Iran would not be allowed to acquire, and how close to building a bomb would Iran be allowed to get.
The coming year is likely to be the year of decision because of two reasons:...
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