From The Wall Street Journal, DECEMBER 16, 2009, by OLIVIER DEBOUZY*:
...This week's revelations about Iran's recent work on warhead design underscore the point. No country has ever gone so far along the road toward the acquisition of a nuclear military capability without actually developing one.
... Western decision makers are now at a defining moment.
...If Iran has nukes, the temptation for countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey, among others, to equip themselves with such weapons would be almost irresistible. The 2010 review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty would be rendered a feckless pantomime...
It is now necessary, therefore, to plan for the worst—some form of military constraint upon Iran. It is urgent that the U.S., Great Britain and France, together with Israel ...gather and try to reach agreement on how to terminate the Iranian nuclear program militarily.
...How could this be done? The experience of the 1962 Cuban crisis provides an interesting precedent. Applying pressure on the Iranians by interdicting any imports or exports to and from Iran by sea and by air would send a message that would undoubtedly be perceived as demonstrative by Tehran. Additionally, reinforcing the Western naval presence inside or immediately outside the Gulf would make it clear to the Iranians, without infringing on their territorial waters, that they (and all states dealing with them) are entering a danger zone.
In parallel to this slow strangulation, measures should be taken to deter Gulf states (such as Dubai) from engaging in any trade or financial transactions with Iran and to encourage them to freeze Iranian assets in their banks. This should not be too difficult, as the threat of disconnecting any renegade from the Swift system would be sufficiently persuasive in the current circumstances, in which Dubai sorely needs international financial assistance.
It might be necessary to go beyond that and actually resort to force to prevent the Iranians from achieving nuclear military capabilities. Planning for a massive air and missile attack on Iran's nuclear facilities (known and suspected) should be considered seriously, and this planning made public (at least partially) to convince Iran that the West can not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk. Such planning should also, to the extent possible, involve NATO, against the territory of which there is little doubt that the majority of Iranian missiles and nuclear weapons would be targeted (if only because they cannot yet reach the U.S.). The U.S., U.K., French and Israeli intelligence services should better co-ordinate what they know, and contributions from others should also be welcome, as well as any information that could be provided by internal opposition movements in Iran.
The idea here is simple, and has been expressed many times by theoreticians of deterrence: When one plans for war, when one deploys forces and rehearses military options, one actually conveys a message. Deterrence is about dialogue. Whether the Iranian government would listen to it is uncertain. But at least it would have been properly warned.
The time for diplomacy has passed. Iran must cave in, and quickly.
If the West is not prepared to force it to comply with its commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, this in effect means that the treaty is dead and that the Gulf countries are being abandoned—stealthily, but nonetheless very definitely. It also means that the non-proliferation regime is, for all practical purposes, dead. Is this really what we want?
*Mr. Debouzy is a lawyer and a former specialist in nuclear military affairs and intelligence for the French government. He writes here in a strictly personal capacity.
Update, Monday 21/12/09: I received the following by email from Mike Evans, Jerusalem Prayer Team (thanks to Trish):
...I am in Israel to address a major conference and what I'm hearing is very sobering. The mood here is VERY ominous.
In the last couple of days I was told some new confidential information about the state of Iran's readiness to deliver a working nuclear bomb.
An Israeli general told me:
• Iran will not back down because they think the US president is too weak to stop them.
• Iran has already enriched 1.7 tons of uranium for a nuclear bomb at its facilities in Natanz.
• Iran has been testing neutron detonators.
Then yesterday, Iran test-fired an upgraded version of its most advanced missile, the Sajjil-2, with a range of about 1,200 miles. That means it can hit anywhere in Israel, our U.S. bases in the Gulf region and even deliver a warhead to parts of Europe!
The two-stage Sajjil-2 is powered entirely by solid-fuel and is the most advanced missile yet tested by Iran. It has a lot longer range and is far more accurate that the previous missile, the Fateh, which only had a range of 120 miles!
So while the world watches, Iran races ahead on its quest for a nuclear bomb—and at the same time, it is testing the missiles needed to deliver such a bomb to destroy its avowed enemy, Israel.
You can understand then why the mood here is very dark—and why I tell you that without divine intervention there will be war in 2010....