Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sanctions and other alternatives may be given more time to stop Iran

From the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, 14 June 2012:

Over the last six months, the prospects of an Israeli preemptive strike against the Iranian nuclear weapons program have been much discussed. Back in early February, media reports suggested that the US Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, was increasingly concerned about a possible ‘window’ for an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities during the months of April, May and June. The Israelis said they feared the Iranian nuclear program would soon enter a ‘zone of immunity’ when it would become harder to stop by military means...
...In the meantime, sanctions will be given a chance to work—but not much of a chance. The growing ferocity of the sanctions is actually a silent testimony to the fact that the sanctions must show quick results.
Media reports suggest Netanyahu has bought into this position, albeit without enthusiasm. In April he told a news conference that Iranian economic difficulties had not succeeded in pushing the Iranian nuclear program backwards, ‘even a millimetre’, an interesting formula since a large part of the public debate over the merits of a preemptive strike concerns just how much the Iranian program could be set back by such an event. Even Netanyahu would probably concede, though, that an on-going campaign of disruption against the Iranian nuclear program—the Stuxnet virus and the assassinations of key Iranian scientists—has borne fruit. Israel might still have further cards to play in that regard. For all those reasons, news reports in Israel suggesting that the initial April–June window has been pushed back have a ring of credibility to them. A recent report in The Jerusalem Post, for example, titled ‘Confrontation with Iran may be delayed to 2013’ tells just such a story. In the meantime, it’s likely the Americans are doing a full court press around the region, in an effort to build regional support for both the sanctions, and for the idea that more serious alternatives will follow if the Iranians move further towards weaponisation.

Follow the link to download a pdf copy of the full paper.
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