Iran deception in the US

Frederick Kagan and Maseh Zarif:
Americans are being played for fools by Iran—and fooling themselves. There is no case to be made that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapons capability. There is no evidence that Iran's decision-makers are willing to stop the nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions or anything else. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported on Friday that it has made no progress in its negotiations with Iran and that Iran continues to accelerate its enrichment operations, which are in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and agreements with the IAEA.
Yet the policy discussion in the U.S. is confused. Former Ambassador Dennis Ross writes that the Iranians are ready for talks. Anonymous administration officials refer to one of the most dangerous Iranian nuclear installations, Fordow, outside the city of Qom, as "a Potemkin facility." The media are full of comparisons to Iraq in 2003, when suspicions that Iraq was pursuing a covert nuclear program led to war.
People are conflating intelligence assessment with policy recommendation. The prospect of war with Iran is so distasteful that people are desperate to persuade themselves that the problem is not serious.
IAEA inspectors on the ground at Iran's nuclear facilities reported the following facts on Friday: Iran's inventory of centrifuges enriching uranium isotopes has been steadily expanding, along with the stockpiles of uranium enriched to 3.5% and 20%—important stages on the road to weapons-grade uranium. Iran has installed and run advanced centrifuges in the Natanz Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant. Iran has buried an enrichment facility under a small mountain at Fordow, installed air-defense systems around it, and brought new centrifuges online there.
Iran is developing techniques and technologies needed to turn weapons-grade uranium (which it is not yet producing) into an atomic bomb. The IAEA reported that the Iranians "dismissed the Agency's concerns [about weaponization] . . . largely on the grounds that Iran considered them to be based on unfounded allegations." The Iranians have denied inspectors access to the facilities that inspectors suspect are being used to work on weaponization.
The price of this refusal, including U.N. and international sanctions, has devastated the Iranian economy. Unemployment and popular dissatisfaction with the regime are high. Unprecedentedly harsh sanctions imposed by the Obama administration are driving off customers for Iran's oil.
What peaceful purpose could be served by accepting such damage to pursue an illegal nuclear program? The international community has repeatedly offered Iran enriched uranium for its reactors to produce both electricity and medical isotopes—and Iran has refused. Iran's behavior makes sense only if its leadership is determined to have a nuclear program that can develop and field atomic weapons.
US intelligence agencies appear to be ignoring the obvious are engaging in willful ignorance.  Perhaps they are trying to justify attempts to persuade Israel not to look out for its own self interest, as if the Israeli intelligence is not aware of the facts.

With the approach of US intelligence and this administration what is likely to happen is the Israels will have to act on their own to keep from being wiped off the map and the US will be pulled into a war by Iran lashing out.  We can still win that war, but it makes more sense to coordinate our efforts with Israel and other states in the region who will also be targeted by Iran.

This will probably mean forward position aircraft in the area beyond just that on ships.


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