By Jasmine Ramsey
February 14, 2014
As I mentioned here, the debate over US military action to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon was mostly on the back burner last year, but as Iran and six world powers known as the P5+1 head to Vienna to negotiate a comprehensive solution, it’s rearing its head again. That’s because we’re at an unprecedented, pivotal moment in this conflict’s history. If a final deal is reached, the prospect of an Iranian nuclear weapon will become highly unlikely; if no deal is reached, those chances increase along with the prospect of some kind of war.
“Diplomacy is so much cheaper than using the military instrument,” said ambassador Peter Galbraith, who has been heavily involved in peace negotiations for more than two decades, on a call today hosted by the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.
“But a more important point is that in all these things, you need to consider what your alternatives are and frankly, there is no good alternative to a negotiated solution,” he added.
A US military campaign to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons would likely be another expensive, resource-heavy, prolonged conflict in the Middle East. This has been the conclusion of reputable US military and intelligence experts, and no matter how much Israel beats its chest, it can’t effectively go at it alone. What’s more, striking Iran could actually compel it to rush for a bomb, which the leadership — after all these years — has not decided to do as of yet.
“What is keeping Iran from developing nuclear weapons is not a technological ability,” notes Galbraith, who served for 5 years as a senior advisor to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Near East and South Asia. “It’s that it has made a political decision for the time being not to develop them.”
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