Is military action to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons unthinkable? Defenders of the White House’s negotiations with Iran have repeatedly argued yes. Joshua Muravchik disagrees:
Sanctions may have induced Iran to enter negotiations, but they have not persuaded it to abandon its quest for nuclear weapons. . . . Sanctions could succeed if they caused the regime to fall; the end of Communism in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, and of apartheid in South Africa, led to the abandonment of nuclear weapons in those states. But since 2009, there have been few signs of rebellion in Tehran.
Otherwise, only military actions—by Israel against Iraq and Syria, and through the specter of U.S. force against Libya—have halted nuclear programs. Sanctions have never stopped a nuclear drive anywhere.
Does this mean that our only option is war? Yes, although an air campaign targeting Iran’s nuclear infrastructure would entail less need for boots on the ground than the war Obama is waging against the Islamic State, which poses a far smaller threat. . . .
Wouldn’t destroying much of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure merely delay its progress? Perhaps, but we can strike as often as necessary. . . . The United States would have to make clear that it will hit wherever and whenever necessary to stop Iran’s program. Objections that Iran might conceal its program so brilliantly that it could progress undetected all the way to a bomb apply equally to any negotiated deal with Iran.