Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Third Option

As sanctions and talks continue, viable military options against Iran’s nuclear program in case of diplomatic failure have been scarce. Not only that, but the language coming from the US and Israel seems to signal that both are waiting for the other to make a first move. The other option has been some variant on the deterrence theory, proponents advocating either confidence in missile defense or rationality in Iranian leadership. Both alternatives have substantial drawbacks as most likely any choice at this point will have.

In a Center for Strategic and International Studies roundtable dialogue (transcript or download audio), New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman played Nostradamus and put forth a third option, a fire at Iran’s Natanz nuclear reactor, or some sort of similar “accident”. Friedman thinks airstrikes are too risky for Israel because Iran can do substantial damage in a retaliatory stirke. “The beauty of an internal explosion,” Friedman says,"is that it makes the regime look weak and it’s impossible to retaliate.” Airstrikes can also strengthen the Iranian regime by rallying people against Israel. With opposition protests lingering, one would think individuals on the inside may be having second thoughts about the Revolutionary Guard and would be willing to listen to an offer from Mossad or the CIA. After all, you just need to install some bad wiring…

Problems with the idea aren't hard to find. Many believe Iran’s programs are spread out and that they possess duplicate facilities rendering an isolated case of arson meaningless. Plus while it might buy time, it doesn’t solve the problem. One wonders how many accidents there could be. But more time and a weaker Tehran might still be helpful. It might be all the US and its allies at the diplomatic table need to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.

1 comment:

Aurelius said...

I smell a disinformation campaign. This sounds like a job for Gus Weiss...Farewell Dossier anyone?