A year after the Bush administration called for a new strategy toward Iran, a debate broke out over whether the approach has any hope of putting an end to Iran’s nuclear program, according to the New York Times. The debate was between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her deputies against the few remaining inside the administration who are calling for greater consideration of military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities.
President Bush has publicly assured everyone that he would never tolerate a nuclear Iran, and the big question central to the debate is when and whether it makes sense to shift course. The issue was raised at a White House meeting recently when J. D. Crouch, the deputy national security adviser told officials that President Bush needed an assessment of what was going to happen with Iran’s nuclear program over the next eighteen months.
The new strategy was for the United States to join forces with Europe, Russia and China to push Iran to end its uranium enrichment programs. Iran, however, has not heeded and instead has installed more than a thousand centrifuges to enrich uranium. The International Atomic Energy Agency predicts that 8,000 or so could be spinning by the end of the year, if Iran overcomes the technical problems they’ve been having. It is from this kind of information that argument stems, whether Bush should set some limits that he would not allow Iran to pass, even it means a military strike.
R. Nicholas Burns, a chief American strategist on Iran, said that negotiations with Tehran could still be going on when Bush leaves office in January 2009. While disappointed, officials were not exactly surprised, interpreting the statement as saying that Bush would not draw the line.
Norman Podhoretz, editor of Commentary magazine, wrote a piece called “The Case for Bombing Iraq.” In it he says “in short, the plain and brutal truth is that if Iran is to be prevented from developing a nuclear arsenal, there is no alternative to the actual use of military force – any more than there was an alternative to force if Hitler was to be stopped in 1938.”
As of now, though, the administration has yet to say that it will not permit Iran to produce more than a given amount of fuel, out of concern that Iran’s hard-liners would simply see that figure as a goal, according to the New York Times. In the year since the United States made its last request to Iran, the Iranians have gone from having only few centrifuges in operation to maintaining a facility that has more than 1,300. “The pace of negotiations have lagged behind the pace of the Iranian nuclear program,” said Robert Joseph, the former under secretary of state for international security.
Cooper, Helene. “Iran Strategy Stirs Debate At White House.” New York Times. 16 June 2007. 16 June 2007