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Obama-Friendly Think Tank Ponders a Nuclear-Armed Iran

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REUTERS

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on a 2008 visit to the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, 350 km (217 miles) south of Tehran.

President Obama has said he will not let Iran get a nuclear weapon. So why did the Center for a New American Security, the think tank most closely associated with staffing Obama’s Pentagon, issue a report Monday called If All Else Fails: The Challenges of Containing a Nuclear-Armed Iran?

Could it be that Obama’s red line against Tehran becoming a nuclear-weapons state is fading? Obama threatened Syria’s Bashar Assad not to cross a “red line” by using chemical weapons against the rebels seeking to overthrow him. But critics maintain that has been shown to be more bluster than blast after (admittedly squishy) evidence surfaced that Assad had done just that and the U.S. did nothing.

The question is piquant coming as it does from CNAS. After all, the think tank’s new top guy is Robert Work, who until March served as deputy secretary of the Navy. Its two new co-chairs are Michèle Flournoy, who served as the Pentagon’s No. 3 civilian until last year, and Kurt Campbell, until recently a top State Department official. They have both returned to the think tank they created in 2007.

CNAS’s latest report on Iran concludes:

Even if U.S. policymakers prefer prevention to containment, prevention could fail. The United States is not likely to acquiesce to the emergence of a nuclear-armed Iran, but Tehran may be able to achieve an unstoppable breakout capability or develop nuclear weapons in secret before preventive measures, up to and including the use of force, have been exhausted. Alternatively, an ineffective military strike could produce minimal damage to Iran’s nuclear program while strengthening Iran’s motivation to acquire the bomb. Under any of these scenarios, Washington would be forced to shift toward containment regardless of current preferences. The failure to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons would be bad, but the failure to be prepared for that possibility would be even worse.

The study’s lead author is Colin H. Kahl, identified in the report as “a Senior Fellow at Center for a New American Security and an associate professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.”

But the more expansive bio on the CNAS website elaborates:

From February 2009 through December 2011, Dr. Kahl served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East. In that capacity, he developed and implemented the U.S. Defense Department’s strategy and policy toward…Iran…During his tenure, he played a lead role in…shaping the Pentagon’s efforts to counter Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions and destabilizing activities…”

Kinda makes you nervous.

23 comments
lattian
lattian

There are many like Mark Thompson who will use any tactic to push US into another war especially with IRAN & Syria. These type of people basically want our soldiers to fight other's wars. Are these American?? Where they align their loyalties. Obviously people like Mark Thompson do not feel any pain when our soldiers are hurt. These shameless individuals are in every media outlet. We are lucky we have an intelligent president who understands such individuals very well. 

drudown
drudown

Gee, "could it be" that you write this war profiteering, sensational drivel to push the US into another endless war that can never be "won", consequences to the People be damned, risk/reward to our fiscal interests aside? I fancy.

SwiftrightRight
SwiftrightRight

You know what would lead to preventing Iran from developing atomic weapons?

Israel surrendering its nukes. 

I mean would you want to share a region with a nation that freely bombs countries in lie of diplomacy, assassinates foreigners regularly and has enough atomics to compete bomb for bomb with China?

CrossWinds
CrossWinds

It is possible, that the anti-Christ, who will attack Israel, and kill Christians, will arise from Iran..........

.........Daniel 11:23-24.............

23 And after the league is made with him he shall act deceitfully, for he shall come up and become strong with a small number of people. 24 He shall enter peaceably, even into the richest places of the province; and he shall do what his fathers have not done, nor his forefathers: he shall disperse among them the plunder, spoil, and riches; and he shall devise his plans against the strongholds, but only for a time.

CrossWinds
CrossWinds

Revelation 17:2

with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”

MattMcLaughlin
MattMcLaughlin

Iranian proliferation is utterly inevitable.  Discussing the merits of proliferation must take into account the realistic understanding that Iran’s ambition to acquire nuclear weapons is unparalleled and will invariably come to fruition.  Iran borders Pakistan and Afghanistan to the east, two countries that are incredibly unstable and, with Sunni majorities, pose at least a small threat to Iran.  To the west, Iran borders Iraq, which engaged in heavy conflict for eight years with Iran during the 1980s.  The fact that Saddam Hussein has been replaced by an American-controlled puppet does not do much to encourage optimism.  Turkey, a NATO member, has close security ties with the United States, and could serve as a proxy for a pre-emptive strike against Iran.  But by far the most imminent threat to Iran’s security is Israel which has the ability to attack with ballistic and submarine-launched cruise missiles, and has also publically announced the willingness to do so.  From a realist standpoint, Iran has every justification to acquire nuclear weapons for the sake of its own security, and will stop at nothing to do so.

From a historical perspective, Iran seeks to regain its historical primacy over the Arabian Gulf, a status begrudgingly ceded to the interests of nuclear states.  Additionally, status quo efforts to inhibit Iranian nuclear development are woefully inadequate: Russia refuses to cooperate with sanctions, even going so far as to provide Iran with an S-300 missile defense system, and China insists on diplomatic negotiations with Iran, citing commercial interests in Iran’s oil and gas sector.  Geographical motive, historical ambition, and inter-state factionalism have thus set the stage for the emergence of Iran as a nuclear state.

S_Deemer
S_Deemer

I would rephrase this as:

"Even if U.S. policymakers prefer prevention to containment, prevention will fail."

And the world will be neither better nor worse place as a result. In many cases, nuclear weapons are Viagra for those with low self-esteem.

grape_crush
grape_crush

> President Obama has said he will not let Iran get a nuclear weapon. So why did the Center for a New American Security...issue a report Monday...

Because that's what think tanks do, Mark. They study things, imagine possible scenarios, then write about them.

> Could it be that Obama’s red line against Tehran becoming a nuclear-weapons state is fading?

Could it be that a report from a think tank has nothing to do with Obama?

> But critics maintain that has been shown to be more bluster than blast after (admittedly squishy) evidence surfaced

Yes, squishy.  Probably not a good idea to send our military into harm's way based on squishy evidence. You'd think after the Iraq debacle, reporters like Thompson would understand why it's a good idea not to do that.

> Kinda makes you nervous.

No, kinda makes you nervous, Thompson. Having an overactive and slightly paranoid imagination will do that to you.

atheist
atheist

The americans  are loosing influence in arab states..and now only the saudi king is left for forwarding american interest in that oil rich region, but provided the unrest in the middle east and against the evidence of the recent past , the american should prepare for the worst and keep an alternative option on standby,..and i say let that alternative be Iran( atleast a partial democracy and oil and gas rich) ...up until now the persians are more then craving for american companionship and friendship...and given its huge influence in Iraq (another oil rich country and a democracy)...and also among the eastern province dwellers of saudi arabia(again oil rich)...the american should lower down the rhetoric and start serious business with Iran....with saudi arabian kings in their pockets together with Israel as an ally and the persians as silent collaborators...American hegemony could be secured for another 50 years...as far as the terrorists are concerned ....without financiers and protection from regional governments they will vanish within a decade or so.....

simbaji
simbaji

As opposed to pondering the ramifications of the fact that if you do NOT sign the NPT, you're free to nuclear weapons? Israel refuses to sign the NPT and is allowed to maintain and grow it's nuclear arsenal, North Korea is not an NPT signatory and was allowed to develop nuclear weapons. Yet here we have Iran, an NPT signatory, not developing nuclear weapons, being denied it's right to develop nuclear technologies that multiple other countries already have? Biased, much?

EarthView
EarthView

This entire article discusses a moot point. Iran has no nukes and has no interest in them. So, all this discussion is hypothetical nonsense. 

robert3242
robert3242

I've said all along that I see no reason why a nuclear-armed Iran couldn't be contained just as the far more formidable Soviet Union was for many decades. The Washington establishment on both sides has tended to brush that idea off--up until now, at least--but many if not most of them receive major campaign contributions from defense contractors who stand to make trillions in the event of yet another war. To me, a strategy of containment sounds like a much better alternative.

ElizabethBorders
ElizabethBorders

Umm...no, doesn't make anyone "nervous" to speculate on a purely hypothetical and non-existent situation, especially since the National Intelligence Estimates (issued under Bush) concluded that Iran doesn't have a nuclear weapons program.

Tell you what DOES make me nervous: "reporters" who promote nonsense scaremongering and engage in guilt-by-association.

EarthView
EarthView

@CrossWinds Go jump in a lake and take your stupid musings with you. Nobody is interested in your inane garbage.

drudown
drudown

@MattMcLaughlin 

You know, people like you were telling me "Saddam is going to become a nuclear menace to the US" a few mere months after Powell and Rice stated he "was in a box" and/or "effectively contained by UN Sanctions." Here, it is the same primrose path you want the People to walk off, not unlike a crooked pirate's plank. 

And, contrary to popular belief, its about War Profiteering...not oil.

EarthView
EarthView

@MattMcLaughlin Did you learn all this by consulting your tea leaves? So, how did you conclude that Iranian proliferation is "inevitable?" Did a little bird come and tell you this stupid lie? 

If Pakistan and NK which are far behind Iran in science and technology have had nukes for years and Iran still does not, what does it tell you? Do you have a brain? The only conclusion is that Iran is not trying to make nukes which our intelligence services have confirmed many times.

Finally, are you so ignorant that you talk about the "Arabian Gulf?" There is no such gulf. Even from the ancient Greeks' time it was known as the Persian Gulf.

DrNomad
DrNomad

@EarthView and you know this because you and Ayatollah Khamenehi are besties right?

DrNomad
DrNomad

@ElizabethBorders Think tanks are not there to speculate on what is now, but to draw up scenarios and try to resolve them.  They are doing their job! and this reporter is reporting that.  Your sarcasm is weak at best.

danksterlove
danksterlove

@DrNomad 
@ElizabethBorders The criticism wasn't directed at the think tank but at the reporter who was trying to link something to Obama which has no actual basis in fact.


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