Sanctions and the threat of military action may dissuade Iran from building a bombby Mark Fitzpatrick / March 19, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in April 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
A surface-to-surface missile is launched during a test in Iran, 20th August 2010
It is not inevitable that Iran will arm itself with nuclear weapons. Nor is a military strike by Israel or the United States the only alternative. Such worst-case assumptions could lead to another unnecessary war in the Middle East, this time possibly lasting a decade or more.
This is not to downplay Iran’s growing nuclear capabilities. It has developed more advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium—material that can power a reactor or produce an explosion. It has increased production of enriched uranium at a level that is close to the quality needed for a weapon. It has also begun carrying out enrichment at the deeply buried facility at Fordow (see map p28), beyond reach of Israeli conventional air strikes. Those steps all move Iran closer to the point of being able to produce a weapon.