What’s so significant about Iran’s announcement yesterday about an indigenous heavy-water production facility? Answer: deuterium production can be used as a basis for a fusion weapon which potentially has thousands of times the power of a fission weapon. More here from Anticipatory Retaliation. Technical details here.
I don’t honestly know if Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons development. I think that the preponderance of the evidence leads one to conclude that they are. The IAEA has never certified that Iran is not pursuing such development; what they have certified is that Iran is not living up to its obligations under the NPT. In my view that suggests that the IAEA thinks that Iran is, in fact, developing nuclear weapons but is reluctant to say so.
Whether Iran is developing nuclear weapons or not the regime has apparently convinced the Iranian people that they are. I suspect that the thinking that Hoder, the dean of Iranian bloggers, explores here, is probably pretty typical.
And, as I noted yesterday, there’s very little we’re likely to do about it and we probably need to think about how we’ll live with a nuclear-armed Iran.
For those who continue to believe that the U. S. or Israel or the U. S. and Israel will prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, that’s simply not on. There are only three military alternatives available:
- bombing (anything short of exterminatory bombing won’t accomplish the objective and will probably have a rally-round effect)
- a raid in force of Iran’s nuclear development facilities (it’s hard to imagine how such a raid could be carried off successfully, we don’t know where all Iran’s facilities are, and it would be, at most a delay which further motivates the actions we’re trying to prevent)
- an invasion and forcible regime change a la Iraq (there aren’t the available forces, there isn’t the political will or, said another way, “you and whose army?”)
In the comments to my post of yesterday on Iran Jeff Medcalf, whose opinion I respect greatly, proposes another military alternative:
For example, we could seize the Iranian oil fields and the area near the Straits of Hormuz and hold them with a relatively small force, while hammering Iran’s nuclear, military, government, terrorist, energy and transportation infrastructures into the ground with air strikes. The combination of depriving Iran of revenue and destroying their ability to act would be sufficient that their surrender would not even be required; we could neuter Iran.
IIRC that scenario has been wargamed and the conclusion was that there was no way to make it stick. I’ll look around and see if I can find the link. The virtues of that approach is that we do, in fact, have the air, naval, and special forces resources to execute it. But, as Jeff notes, it would have costs, and IMO one of the casualties would be Republican control of the House and Senate in November so I doubt we’ll see it before then.
After then? ¿Quién sabe?
As to Jeff’s suggestion of a preventive nuclear strike by Israel I think that would require some specific events to occur and we haven’t seen those yet.