Iran and the Bomb: Introduction
Iran's Quest for Superpower Status
Adjusting to Sanctions
Understanding Iran's U.S. Policy
Regime Change and Its Limits
How to Keep the Bomb From Iran
Botching the Bomb
Why Nuclear Weapons Programs Often Fail on Their Own -- and Why Iran’s Might, Too
Time to Attack Iran
Why a Strike Is the Least Bad Option
Not Time to Attack Iran
Why War Should Be a Last Resort
Why Iran Should Get the Bomb
Nuclear Balancing Would Mean Stability
After Iran Gets the Bomb
Containment and Its Complications
Obama's Counterproductive New Iran Sanctions
How Washington is Sliding Toward Regime Change
How to Spark an Iranian Revolution
Sanctions Won't End Iran's Nuclear Program
Letter From Tehran
How to Engage Iran
What Went Wrong Last Time — And How to Fix It
Letter From Tel Aviv: Netanyahu’s Iranian Dilemma
The Limits of the Military Option Against Iran
The Root of All Fears
Why Is Israel So Afraid of Iranian Nukes?
What Happens After Israel Attacks Iran
Public Debate Can Prevent a Strategic Disaster
Why Israel Should Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
The Case for a New Nuclear Strategy
In "Time to Attack Iran" (January/February 2012), Matthew Kroenig takes a page out of the decade-old playbook used by advocates of the Iraq war. He portrays the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran as both grave and imminent, arguing that the United States has little choice but to attack Iran now before it is too late. Then, after offering the caveat that "attacking Iran is hardly an attractive prospect," he goes on to portray military action as preferable to other available alternatives and concludes that the United States can manage all the associated risks. Preventive war, according to Kroenig, is "the least bad option."
But the lesson of Iraq, the last preventive war launched by the United States, is that Washington should not choose war when there are still other options, and it should not base its decision to attack on best-case analyses of how it hopes the conflict will turn out. A realistic assessment of Iran's nuclear progress and how a conflict would likely unfold leads one to a conclusion that is the opposite of Kroenig's: now is not the time to attack Iran.
Kroenig argues that there is an urgent need to attack Iran's nuclear infrastructure soon, since Tehran could "produce its first nuclear weapon within six months of deciding to do so." Yet that last phrase is crucial. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has documented Iranian efforts to achieve the capacity to develop nuclear weapons at some point, but there is no hard evidence that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has yet made the final decision to develop them.
In arguing for a six-month horizon, Kroenig also misleadingly conflates hypothetical timelines to produce weapons-grade uranium with the time actually required to construct a bomb. According to 2010 Senate testimony by James Cartwright, then vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, and recent statements by the former heads of Israel's national intelligence and defense intelligence agencies, even if Iran could produce enough weapons-grade uranium
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