Tuesday, September 15, 2009

'Time is Running Out' to Prevent Nuclear Iran

/PRNewswire/ -- Former U.S. Senators Daniel Coats and Charles Robb and General (ret.) Charles Wald, members of the Bipartisan Policy Center's (BPC) National Security Initiative, today released a report warning that "time is running out" to prevent a nuclear weapons-capable Iran. Concluding that "the Islamic Republic will be able to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon by 2010," the report, entitled "Meeting the Challenge: Time is Running Out," calls on the Obama Administration to adopt a more forceful, phased strategy towards Iran, including: accelerated, defined diplomatic engagement; more "coercive" international sanctions; and, if Iranian defiance continues unabated, potential surgical military action.

Remarking on the need to update the original report, the authors jointly stated, "We are alarmed by how much progress Iran has made toward obtaining nuclear weapons capability and remain skeptical about the sincerity of Iran's new-found willingness to negotiate. We hope that the bipartisan strategy we propose can help guide our government to resolve this difficult and urgent national security challenge."

Emphasizing that a nuclear weapons-capable Iran would be "strategically untenable," the authors argue that the current U.S. approach does not reflect the rapid progress of Iran's nuclear program. It is this advancing Iranian threat and the desire to avoid a possible Israeli military strike, the authors argue, that should drive U.S. policy--not concerns over Iran's political turmoil.

The authors applaud President Obama's attempts at diplomatic outreach and call upon the international community to join together in imposing sanctions on Iran's banking and energy sectors following next week's G-20 summit. Noting that Russia and China are unlikely to support such sanctions, the report states that the efficacy of sanctions will largely depend upon the willingness of key European nations to curtail their commercial ties to Iran.

Should increased pressure on Tehran not yield credible progress by the end of 2009, the authors recommend that "the Obama Administration should elevate consideration of the military option." They argue that "the U.S. military is more than capable of launching a devastating strike against Iranian nuclear and military facilities," and that "only the credible threat of a U.S. military strike will make a peaceful resolution of the crisis possible."

This report is an update of a BPC report issued in September 2008, entitled "Meeting the Challenge: U.S. Policy Toward Iranian Nuclear Development," that was the result of a high-level bipartisan task force. The entire group could not be reconstituted, as some members are now serving in the Obama Administration. The co-chairs of the original task force--Senators Daniel Coats and Charles Robb--together with General (ret.) Charles Wald, felt that the political, technological, diplomatic, and military developments of the past year needed to be addressed.

Calling on the U.S. political leadership to make hard choices, the authors argue "we cannot shirk responsibilities that will protect the national security interests of our country."

For more information on "Meeting the Challenge: Time is Running Out," or the BPC's National Security Initiative, please visit: www.bipartisanpolicy.org/.

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