The world has seen at least five years of kicking the can down the road on the Iranian nuclear program, in a long cycle of imposing incrementally tougher sanctions, waiting, getting a report, noting noncompliance, and imposing more sanctions. There virtually appeared to be an official policy of procrastination and denial until last fall, when at long last, a sense of urgency appeared on stopping the Mahdi Bomb: that is, nuclear weapons in the hands of a paranoid state sponsor of terrorism, eager for the End of Days and the return of the 12th Imam, the Mahdi.
There is also prospect that a nuclear Iran would lead to a nuclear Saudi Arabia. “US officials believe Iran sanctions will fail, making military action likely,” by Chris McGreat for the Guardian, February 17:
Officials in key parts of the Obama administration are increasingly convinced that sanctions will not deter Tehran from pursuing its nuclear programme, and believe that the US will be left with no option but to launch an attack on Iran or watch Israel do so.
The president has made clear in public, and in private to Israel, that he is determined to give sufficient time for recent measures, such as the financial blockade and the looming European oil embargo, to bite deeper into Iran’s already battered economy before retreating from its principal strategy to pressure Tehran.
But there is a strong current of opinion within the administration — including in the Pentagon and the state department — that believes sanctions are doomed to fail, and that their principal use now is in delaying Israeli military action, as well as reassuring Europe that an attack will only come after other means have been tested.
“The White House wants to see sanctions work. This is not the Bush White House. It does not need another conflict,” said an official knowledgeable on Middle East policy. “Its problem is that the guys in Tehran are behaving like sanctions don’t matter, like their economy isn’t collapsing, like Israel isn’t going to do anything.
“Sanctions are all we’ve got to throw at the problem. If they fail then it’s hard to see how we don’t move to the ‘in extremis’ option.”
The White House has said repeatedly that all options are on the table, including the use of force to stop Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon, but that for now the emphasis is firmly on diplomacy and sanctions.
But long-held doubts among US officials about whether the Iranians can be enticed or cajoled into serious negotiations have been reinforced by recent events.
“We don’t see a way forward,” said one official. “The record shows that there is nothing to work with.”
Scepticism about Iranian intent is rooted in Iran’s repeated spurning of overtures from successive US presidents from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama, who appealed within weeks of coming to office for “constructive ties” and “mutual respect” .
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s claim this week that Iran loaded its first domestically-made fuel rod into a nuclear reactor, and Iran’s threat to cut oil supplies to six European countries, were read as further evidence that Tehran remains defiantly committed to its nuclear programme. That view was strengthened by the latest Iranian offer to negotiate with the UN security council in a letter that appeared to contain no significant new concessions….