October 01, 2012
Credit: Photo Credit: Mehr News Agency
David Fulghum Washington
Aerial bombing of Iran's nuclear and missile programs offers little political, deterrent or military value. That judgment encompasses bombing raids by either Israel or the U.S., contend a growing number of U.S. analysts.
There is evidence that patience on the part of the West may provide less-obvious opportunities to delay or halt the programs. But Israel fears that U.S. caution will turn into a containment policy that will enable Tehran to build a nuclear weapon.
“If the Iranians really wanted a store of enriched uranium, they could buy it,” says a longtime U.S. defense specialist with links to the U.S. military's world of clandestine operations. “And they don't have to process it themselves except for the national prestige it would give the country and to keep the international spotlight on Tehran.”
In fact, North Korea and Iran agreed to broad technology exchanges during an August meeting in Tehran of nonaligned nations. Large numbers of North Korean scientists have been traveling to Iran. The agreement calls for cooperation in research, student exchanges, and joint laboratories in the areas of information technology, engineering, biotechnology and renewable energy.
Probably the only nation to profit from an attack on Iran would be Russia, where declining oil prices are slowing the economy.
“The price of oil goes up if there is an attack on Iran,” says Steven Pifer, director of the Brookings Institute arms control initiative. And while Russia's sale of its long-range SA-20 (S-300) surface-to-air missile to Iran remains a “dead issue,” Moscow has “not seen a precautionary tale” in the fact that its advanced-capability, man-portable SA-18s and SA-24s have migrated from military customers into the black market and into the hands of militants in Somalia, South Lebanon and Gaza, says Pifer. He predicts such sales will continue.