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Iran Update: A Drumbeat Toward War

Iran Update: A Drumbeat Toward War

Nuclear negotiations with Iran are “dead in the water,” experts say. The demise of talks comes during the same week that Iran has unveiled plans for a new air defense site and the announcement of its new short-range missile with a range of 180 miles and upgraded hardware. This also comes within days of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s plan to announce a new report, which will indicate that Iran is more and more focused on increasing its enriched uranium to 20% (the “magic number” that nuclear experts claim will allow Iranian nuclear scientists to develop a bomb).

In anticipation of this report, Olli Heinonen, the former chief inspector for the IAEA, predicts: “This will stir more discussion of how much time is left for diplomacy…Even if the new centrifuges are not operating yet, a thousand new ones would represent a 20 percent increase – and an increased production level will be a red line for many people.”

However, it is this very definition of the “red lines” that has resulted in a nuanced, but significant split between U.S. and Israeli policy. Israel is concerned with the “zone of immunity,” or the point at which the Iran will have enriched enough uranium to quickly assemble a nuclear weapon. The United States, however, considers its “red line” to be the actual creation of a nuclear weapon. In other words, Israel wishes to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons capability while the U.S. wants to prevent Iran from physically obtaining a weapon.

Furthering the tension, leaders in Tehran are expected to announce a new plan to revitalize international support for an Iranian nuclear enrichment program, in direct contrast to “dominance” by the United States.

As a reminder, a nuclear Iran is dangerous not only to Israel but to the entire international community (for a refresher, check this great article by Ari Shavit who interviews a major player in Israeli security policy anonymously). However, there are real and potentially equal threats that would be derived from an Israeli attack on the Iranian nuclear program. Jeffrey Goldberg outlines some of these threats, which include the loss of innocent lives, the threat of retaliation, and the real chance that an attack would not set the program back by any significant amount.

As world powers, including the U.S., respond to Israel’s claim that talks have failed, we at RACblog will continue to keep an eye on the impact of economic sanctions and understand exactly how close we might be to a nuclear Iran, a preemptive strike on its facilities or any number of other possibilities.

Image courtesy of Ali Mohammadi/Bloomberg News

Published: 8/27/2012

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