The U.S. Is Running Out of Time to Prevent an Iran Disaster

March 24, 2023 | Jonathan Schachter
About the author: Jonathan Schachter is a senior fellow with Hudson Institute’s Center for Peace and Security in the Middle East. He specializes in international security, strategy and diplomacy.

On March 4, international monitors confirmed reports that they had discovered 84-percent-enriched uranium near one of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear sites, in violation of previous agreements. Jonathan Schachter comments:

Most reports have noted that this is just shy of the 90-percent level generally considered to be “weapons grade.” Others correctly point out that uranium enriched to around 80 percent fueled the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. Almost no one mentions that Iran has no civilian need to enrich uranium in the first place. . . .

The Biden administration’s policy toward Iran reflects a clear and consistent preference for diplomacy over the use of force, and understandably so. But the White House treats the two as contradictory, rather than complementary. For over two years, the administration has demonstrated its reticence to use, or even credibly threaten to use, force against Iran. Manifestly undeterred, Iran has continued and accelerated its drive toward the nuclear threshold.

In other words, America’s soft-handed approach and global events are making a diplomatic solution less likely. If Washington continues on its current path, the world almost certainly will face a nuclear-armed Iran, a war to prevent that eventuality, or both.

It is not too late to act, [however]: the president, his administration, and Congress can make clear that the United States and its allies can and will use force to prevent Iran from violating its nuclear obligations. The United States would not be moving its red lines, but rather enforcing them. Doing so would send a powerful message to Iranian leaders that they have already crossed America’s red lines and need to back down.

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