Joined: 24 Feb 2003
|Posted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 2:02 am Post subject: Known and unknown in Iran - By Dr. Eran Lerman
|Known and unknown in Iran
The time for Israel to make some decisions about Iran may come soon
By Eran Lerman
December 7, 2005
Dr. Eran Lerman, a former IDF intelligence senior official, is the executive director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC)
At the height of the Cold War, British singer and songwriter Sting wondered aloud, "How can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer's deadly toy"?
The question was a bit unfair: Toys were the last thing on "Oppie's" mind as he and his team raced Hitler and Tojo to the bomb in 1944-1945. But Sting's next line -"...believe me when I say to you/ I hope the Russians love their children too" was more accurate, and adequately portrayed all the fear and uncertainty of those trying times
But if the present regime in Iran produces a nuclear bomb, will this pious hope be enough to keep our children (and theirs) safe? When speaking of the people, Russians or Persians, it is easy to argue (as Sting did) that "We share the same biology/ regardless of ideology".
But there is little in the words or actions of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khameni or President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, both of whom openly and consistently advocate Israel's speedy destruction, to suggest this might be the case.
As Hizbullah, Iran's proxy in Lebanon, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, their agents in the Palestinian context, seek to draw us to the brink of large-scale violence, we have a taste of what things might be like if we come to live with the fact of an Iranian "Revolutionary Islamic" bomb.
Meanwhile, we are facing, in fact, three interlocking and agonizing uncertainties as to the dynamics driving the Iranian nuclear project. It would be easy, but wrong, to scoff at the difficulty of making life-and-death decisions under these circumstances, and informed decision-making in recent months has become harder, not easier. There are several reasons for this.
What we know, what we don't
For starters, we know what we know about the Iranian project (to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld's famous tongue-twister); and we know some of what we do not know – but might get to know, if we focus our intelligence collection and the world's inspection efforts on it.
Within this realm of knowledge, the common judgment is that we still have time – a few years? – before Iran's nuclear program matures to the point of producing a nuclear weapon.
There is some reason to suspect, however, that on the "we don't know" side there may be elements and aspects that potentially inhibit any forceful action (lest we wake up the day after and find that we went after the overt project, only to find the core capacity lies elsewhere).
Reacting to international pressure
The second tier of uncertainty has to do with the reactions of the present regime towards growing international pressure – and possibly, sanctions.
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