IAEA Report on Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program

There are few real surprises in the just published IAEA report that Iran is carrying out prohibited nuclear weapons programs. The question after all the dust settles and the policy makers and media commentators have their say on what this really means for our security and for the region’s, is what can now be done? Clearly the thrust of this effort poses very real dangers of a great magnitude.

The goals are to first stop Iran’s on-going weapons programs and second to get the illegal (under the NPT) weapons development capacity dismantled – if possible by peaceful means.

The first obstacle to a peaceful international effort to this end will be the possible, even likely, lack of cooperation by China, Russia, Cuba, and a host of developing nations who sit on the IAEA Executive Committee.  The IAEA Board of Governors is meeting on November 17-18, and will consider a draft resolution censuring Iran for violating its non-proliferation commitments. The question is whether, without a consensus, any meaningful action will result that will sway Iran’s clear decision to move towards weapons development. The Board’s 35 members may simply condemn these activities but that will have no impact on the realities on the ground. Let’s be frank: Iran’s warhead development activities are both extensive and deliberate.

The reality is that we still have on the table a defined range of unsatisfactory and unpredictable in consequences, options in response.  The first is to continue our limited sanctions (which have clearly proved ineffective), or second, to impose multilaterally or bilaterally major economic/financial and technological sanctions that would essentially constitute a virtual “blockade” and isolate the nation from the rest of the world. The third option is to bomb the nuclear weapons facilities, which is an actual act of war.  We would pursue, this in the very last event, realizing the consequences, costs, and uncertainty of all-out war in the region.

I would not choose now the last kinetic option until it is clear that other avenues are having no impact.  Any option is going to be difficult and will require international cooperation. We will only get that through diplomacy and tact.  But half measures are unlikely to stop an already belligerent Iranian regime.

Normally, a combination of “carrots” and “sticks” is the preferred approach most likely to gain agreement.  The existential question is: can we and others live with a nuclear armed Iran or not? Clearly, continued nuclear proliferation will likely result one day in the actual use of such weapons, which is NOT acceptable.  We are living with a nuclear armed North Korea uncomfortably and have yet to decide how to finally deal with that reality!  Better be cautious than reckless as we have been in Iraq. But this not a question we can safely avoid.

By Harry C. Blaney III.

4 thoughts on “IAEA Report on Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program

  1. Harry Blaney November 11, 2011 / 12:16 AM

    The problem is the backlash if Israel attacks. The reactions and consequences would not be fully contained. I agree that the “Masada Complex” creates a “do or die” mentality, but putting your country at risk over the long run is not a strategy but rather suicide.

    Only the threat of an immediate strike could induce a nation to attack knowing that the result could still be a disaster for your population. The new weapons technology that is a-building in the Middle East and around the globe makes Israel’s situation more dangerous over time…….Iran would not likely attack with missiles but rather with a more hidden approach. Thus anti-missile defense is not a real protection. We need a concerted international full court press to contain the Iran threat and to build a peace that can hold and diminish the reason for any conflict.

  2. Frank Feigert November 10, 2011 / 2:33 PM

    I believe that the biggest problem now is Netanyahu’s Masada complex. The report should feed, even further, the feeling in Israel that they must take unilateral action, consequences be damned. And, to what extent will the U.S. be complicit, at what costs?

  3. Harry Blaney November 10, 2011 / 2:09 PM

    Henrietta; That will be the last thing we would want! We already have too many in Iran and elsewhere who want horrific weapons of violence and conflict (the Iranian or Korean regime’s bomb programs are examples), as a way to gain their goals. Even here in the U.S. politicians and right-wing pundits mindlessly talk of bombings without thought of the consequences.

  4. henrietta schwartze November 10, 2011 / 1:17 PM

    Teheran will be hiroshima

    Qum will be Nagasaki

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