Take the Iran Military Option Off the Table

Obama’s policy toward Iran on the nuclear bomb possibility is that he will use the military option if it becomes evident that Iran is building nuclear weapons or even before that if its capability suggests an intent to build nuclear weapons.

Iran has repeatedly denied both the intent and capability. It certainly lacks the capability.

Iran has agreed to dilute its uranium stock from the 20 percent level. A 90 percent level is needed for a nuclear bomb. Iran has now diluted half of its uranium, according to the UN inspectors.

It is time for Obama to take the military option off the table. There is a range of alternatives that can be expressed diplomatically so as to produce a calibrated quid pro quo. He can say that now that Iran is reducing its uranium stock, he is considering taking the military option off the table. Or he can say he is seriously considering this. Or he can say that when the process of dilution is complete, he intends to give the matter of removing the military option serious consideration. Or he can say that as long as uranium remains diluted, the military option no longer needs to be on the table.

My point is that he should say something of this nature in response to Iran’s actions to bring down the probability of U.S. military action. A policy statement of this kind signals a reasonable U.S. response as well as a measure of goodwill. This is important in order to encourage Iran in further negotiations. But such a policy change is far more important for the U.S. and America because it removes a red line that could conceivably involve America in a very bad and costly war of indeterminate length; and one of such a war’s effects would be that the safety of Americans would be at risk from reprisals and retaliation anywhere in the world.

Although this is what should be done if Washington’s policy makers were reasonable, it probably won’t happen. The State Department likes to play hard ball with any government considered weaker than the U.S., mistakenly thinking that being undiplomatic and unreasonable is the best way to dominate others and get its way. This is why State constantly issues threats, uses sanctions, seizes assets, attempts to isolate and strangle, and speaks of “costs”. The State Department generally disrespects other governments and nations and feels free to meddle in their politics when it suits them. This kind of behavior is at the opposite pole of responding in some kind of sensible live-and-let-live manner to Iran by reducing the prospect of ever using the military option.


6:11 am on March 3, 2014