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June 29, 2004


In September the IAEA will present findings of a stain found in one of the Iranian enrichment factories which maybe the first clear evidence of Iranian nuclear weapons program.

Libya in the coming months will provide full details of their various relationships in its nuclear weapon's program (like buying yellow cake from Niger).

Come late September or October the UNSC will then decide what to do and if their actions aren't sufficient, I suspect a small M.E. nation will take actions similar to the 1980s with regards to Saddam.

Do you think economic/diplomatic threats will really work? It's better then no action at all, of course.

I don't really have a solution. Prioritizing real nuclear threats over fake ones would not be a bad start.

So far as I can tell, European countries are not even willing to seriously consider economic threats against Iran. I don't believe that economic actions against Iran would work, but the European refusual to even seriously consider that route suggests that their answer to Iran is to ignore it (I mean of course to 'condemn' it but only through diplomatic channels.)

The politics of nuclear proliferation are peculiar. Iran (and NK) clearly have the will to obtain nuclear weapons. Furthermore they believe (maybe correctly, maybe not), that once they get there, they're untouchable. In that situation, the correct thing for them to do is to hem and haw and delay until they get it done, at which point their past hawing and delaying doesn't matter.

I don't see any way for diplomacy to get past this, unless you can offer something more valuable than being a nuclear state. For the kind of power-obsessed and militant states involved, there isn't much that would qualify.

This is a very difficult issue. It may be that the best we can do is to try and run out the clock on the regimes seeking nuclear weapons, in the hopes that if we can delay their programs the regime will have liberalized somewhat by the time it gets nukes.

Which makes hard monitoring, like the kind we had on NK's plutonium rods, absolutely invaluable. Every source I've read says that uranium enrichment takes a lot of time and won't produce many nukes. As long as the UN security cameras were in place on North Korea's plutonium rods we knew they had to take the slow road to nukes. When the cameras went off--and every indication is that a little bit of carrot would've worked there--they were in a position to get a lot of nukes, quick.

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