As Josh at TPM will probably note tonight, in relation to his earlier post, that the installation and the Iranian announcement of 3,000 new centrifuges late this month or early March will be the ‘Red Line.’ At least that’s been my working assumption for the last several weeks.
I was going to blog about my recent research into Iran’s nuclear program at a later date when I had conducted more interviews and I will write up the post at some point, but here is my conclusion: I believe there is good evidence, albeit circumstantial, that the Iranians have failed to let the IAEA inspect in accordance with the Additional Protocol (and reduced the IAEA team) because of serious program failures (as noted here in the Guardian) as opposed to a successful program. The Iranians may be hiding failure for domestic reasons, as well–especially as tomatoes cost three euros a pound. Think of the outrage at home if the program was seen as a failure, the country is pouring all that money into it, Ahmedinehad is speechifying everywhere and the program is a bust?
One could rebut by saying, “Bush is pressuring Iran to create negotiating space, a la Friedman’s column this week. But it’s not about strategy at this point, but trust, as Chris Nelson wrote today:
a case can be made that IF you could bring yourself to trust the judgment and capacity of Bush and Cheney, then you MIGHT be able to feel that the combined escalation of rhetoric, threats, Navy deployments, and calculated sanctions efforts, is creating a potentially useful negotiating space with Iran.
You might, that is, if you accept the evidence, clearly demonstrated over the years, that the council of mullahs is capable of rational, pragmatic, self-interested foreign policy decisions, including helping the US defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan. If you buy this, then you might be willing to believe that Bush efforts will stimulate the council to properly assessing the risks and benefits of continuing to pursue the threat of nuclear weapons…vs reaching accommodation with Europe and the US.
Alas…if you break down the components of the ”œif/then” propositions above, it’s way too many to be sustained on faith. The Bush Administration simply has not earned any extension of faith, on anything.
Will we attack Iran? I put the odds at 65/35, creeping up more with news of additional White House pressure and lack of Democratic pushback. Where are the Democrats, by the way?
The good news is that cable ratings and revenues will be up.