Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Nuclear Iran

The New York Times article this morning about the Iranian nuclear program is just blowing my mind.

The first thing that comes to mind is why publish things for all the world to see (like the Soviets) that involve covert U.S. operations against Iran? But then I see that the information from the article comes from a book to be published on Tuesday by the author David E. Sanger, who is also Chief Washington Correspondent for the Times. Compromising U.S. security for self-promotion? Typical.

The gist of the article is that Israel, in early 2008, sent a shopping list to the U.S. for bunker-busters, refueling equipment, and permission to fly over Iraq. Not hard to figure that one out. The U.S. deflected the first two requests but said "hell no!" to the third.

Israel had given up hope, it seems, that Bush would handle the Iranian nuclear problem; the NIE (National Intelligence Estimate) report in late 2007 which said Iran had suspended development of nukes in 2003 didn't convince anyone. Bush didn't believe it and neither did Israel. So Israel decided to take things into their own hands. After some exercise missions, ultimately they decided that without American help they could not reach their targets or objectives.

Despite the continuing covert operations, one senior intelligence official says that Iran is now so close to achieving weapons capacity that it cannot be stopped.

The exit question here is now what does Obama do? He inherits this conundrum. During the campaign he said that he wanted to diplomatically engage Iran, but do you still do that when they are a nuclear power? That won't sit real well with Israel. Does Obama continue the covert operations against Iran (such as they are now that the Times has exposed the plan)?

Obama's decision to keep Robert Gates may give us a clue; Gates has said that we should not be considering a strike on Iranian facilities at this time. Surely the expertise Gates carries in this operation factored into Obama's decision to keep him on - a decision that befuddled many democrats.

There is no question that this is a tough one. Of course, Iran will say we're making it all up. But I guarantee that the Soviets are watching to see what we do.

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