Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tehran Increasingly Aggressive

Hostility between Iran and the West over the Iranian nuclear proliferation question is rapidly escalating as the November 4 United States presidential election approaches. In recent weeks senior Iranian officials have called for preemptive strikes against Israel and the United Kingdom.

Many familiar with the issue have characterized the period between November 5, 2008 and January 20, 2009 (Inauguration Day) as critical. Will President Bush finally give Israel the green light to preemptively target Iranian nuclear facilities before his administration leaves office? (one report by intelligence experts now claims that this option wouldn't even work). Will Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei make good on recent Iranian threats? Suffice it to say that the next U.S. president will face an extraordinarily difficult challenge.

I attended a panel discussion on Iran's nuclear enrichment program at the United Nations on October 20. The event was sponsored by the newly formed United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) organization and featured Dr. Gary Samore and Henry Sokolski, two non-proliferation and nuclear policy experts. Here is the transcript. With the exception of comments from one audience member at the conclusion regarding biblical prophecy and nuclear holocaust, (isn't there a way to restrict these people to their compounds?), the conversation was a valuable one. While pointing out the multiple policy mistakes of the past 5 years and stressing the Iranian regime's dedication to the development of a nuclear weapons option, the panelists also made the case for continued and realistic diplomacy.

The coming months might destroy such optimism forever.

(photo credit: Getty Images)