How to Keep Iran in Check Without War
by Gary Sick, The Daily Beast, Sept. 27, 2009
President Eisenhower once remarked to his peripatetic Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, “Don’t do something, Foster, just stand there.” From all evidence, Dulles paid not the slightest attention to his boss’ injunction. And that is no surprise. The job description of a Washington policy adviser is never to “just stand there.” It is not in their DNA. Their job is solving problems. It is somehow slightly un-American to suppose that problems may at times have no solution or might best be alleviated by keeping hands off.
Iran has been a critical issue for the United States and Israel for a very long time. Seventeen years ago, in January 1992, the U.S. Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare of the House Republican Research Committee, asserted that there was a “98 percent certainty that Iran already had all (or virtually all) of the components required for two to three operational nuclear weapons.” That same month, Binyamin Netanyahu told the Knesset that “Within three to five years, we can assume that Iran will become autonomous in its ability to develop and produce a nuclear bomb… (The nuclear threat) must be uprooted by an international front headed by the U.S.” In that same year, Robert Gates, then director of the CIA, asked, “Is [Iran’s nuclear program] a problem today?” He answered, “Probably not. But three, four, five years from now it could be a serious problem.” Three years later, a senior Israeli official declared: “If Iran is not interrupted in this program by some foreign power, it will have the device in more or less five years.”
Officially, both the United States and Israel now agree that Iran is unlikely to be able to produce a bomb until about 2013 or 2014—the same five-year window that was being predicted seventeen years ago in 1992.