[Marxism] Obama: War only if Iran builds a bomb
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Sat Mar 3 07:15:27 MST 2012
Obama Offers Israel a Path to Avoid an Iran War, but Will Netanyahu Buy Its Terms?
By TONY KARON
March 2 2012
Asked in a lengthy interview with the Atlantic Monthly’s Jeffrey Goldberg published Friday, March 2, to clarify the terms of his oft stated vow that “all options are on the table” in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, Obama answered, “I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say.”
It has been widely reported that while in Washington, Netanyahu intends to press Obama to clarify the “red line” that, if crossed by Iran, would trigger the military response signified by the “all options” phrase. In the Goldberg interview, Obama appeared to draw that red line at Iran’s actually building a nuclear weapon. Not that he accepts all of Iran’s current nuclear activity and defiance of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) demands, but Obama sees “crippling sanctions” as sufficient to give Iran’s leaders pause on that score. But building a nuclear weapon — which Iran, by the consensus of U.S. and Israeli intelligence, has not yet decided to do — appears, from Obama’s statements, to be the red line.
Iran’s current enrichment efforts remain under scrutiny by the IAEA, whose inspectors certify that no material has been diverted for any possible covert military program. And any move to break out and build a weapon would be obvious, first and foremost, by the need to enrich uranium to anything above the levels required for Iran’s peaceful purposes — less than 4% for reactor fuel; 20% for the Tehran reactor that produces medical isotopes. And on the latter, the stockpile would necessarily be limited — an issue that will be a focus in negotiations that look set to resume in the coming months. Weapons-grade uranium must be enriched to above 90%.
If breakout to weaponization is the red line, then the point is that Iran has not yet crossed it or even taken a decision to do so. Indeed, Obama noted that “what we’ve heard directly from them over the last couple of weeks is that nuclear weapons are sinful and un-Islamic. And those are formal speeches from the Supreme Leader and their Foreign Minister.” Such statements, in fact, are not new: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 2005 announced a fatwa declaring that the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons was forbidden under Islam. But Obama’s point was that such language gives Iran a pathway to reach a diplomatic solution without being seen as buckling to Western demands:
“For them to prove to the international community that their intentions are peaceful and that they are, in fact, not pursuing weapons is not inconsistent with what they’ve said. So it doesn’t require them to knuckle under to us. What it does require is for them to actually show to the world that there is consistency between their actions and their statements. And that’s something they should be able to do without losing face.”
By making breakout to weaponization the red line and backing it up with a military threat, Obama offers Netanyahu an opportunity — or a dilemma, depending on his real intentions. Drawing the red line at weaponization means Obama sees no need for military action against Iran on the basis of the current status quo. Instead, he sees sanctions as Iran’s price for failing to satisfy IAEA concerns, while the threat of military action deters it from breaking out to build weapons, and diplomacy is pursued to seek a formula that all sides can live with to strengthen guarantees against Iran’s building nuclear weapons.
If Netanyahu would risk war simply to prevent Iran from having a nuclear infrastructure that would give it the capability to make a bomb — an infrastructure it already has in place — Obama’s position may not be deemed sufficient. But most of Israel’s military and intelligence establishment believe that bombing Iran now would be a mistake, and Israeli public opinion on the issue is highly ambivalent. A survey last week by the University of Maryland and Israel’s Dahaf Institute found that just 1 in 5 Israelis believes Israel should bomb Iranian nuclear facilities without the support of the U.S., 1 in 3 opposes military action entirely, and 43% say Israel should strike only if the U.S. backs the decision.
Some close observers have suggested, in fact, that Netanyahu painted himself into a corner on the issue with his apocalyptic rhetoric…
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