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26 February 2013

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Agree with some, disagree with others. Here's a few I'd challenge Dr. Bolan on:

#4: Iran was in breach of it's safeguards agreement which is required by the NPT. Article 3 of the NPT says this: "The safeguards required by this Article shall be applied on all source or special fissionable material in all peaceful nuclear activities within the territory of such State, under its jurisdiction, or carried out under its control anywhere." Even Iran admits that it failed to place material under safeguards. Whether that is an actual NPT violation or merely a Safeguards violation depends on who you ask. However, the IAEA decided to not call it an NPT violation for political reasons (a decision I agree with, incidentally).

#5: I think you misstate the US IC's position. To summarize, the IC assumes three necessary pillars for any nuclear weapons program: First, the capability to produce the required fissile material; second, a functional bomb (aka weaponization), and third, a delivery vehicle (almost always ballistic missiles). What the IC assessed is that Iran "suspended" work on weaponization, but continued work on delivery vehicles and fissile material capability. The IC also purposely uses the words "suspended" and "halted" and not "dismantled" or something similar. The IC assessed the Iranians could restart weaponization and that the Iranians are, at a minimum, keeping open the option to do so. Anyway, a bit of inside baseball, but those details are important even though I agree Iran is probably not interested in nuclear weapons right now.

There is one thing I do have to really object to though, especially since it seems to be conventional wisdom:

Of course, constant US and Israeli threats to attack Iran’s existing civilian nuclear facilities are counterproductive and underscore the potential need for just such a deterrent.

The problem with that argument is that Iran doesn't have a nuclear deterrent and any attempt to gain a deterrent (short of a fait accompli) will precipitate an attack. In other words, acting on the "need" for a deterrent will have the opposite effect and guarantee and attack and war.

#7 and #8: Ok, these are myths because some people believe them to be myths? Citing a couple of studies or the opinions of international relations "scholars" is not evidence of anything. The truth is we don't know for certain what would happen, but I'm not sure how you can downplay concerns considering the Israeli and US threats you cited in #5.

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