Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Reality check on Iran

Via Matthew Yglesias, from a McClatchy article:

The presumptive Republican nominee for president and the leading contender for the Democratic nomination are exaggerating what's known about Iran's nuclear program as they duel over how best to deal with Tehran.

Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., say that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.

The U.S. intelligence community, however, thinks that Iran halted an effort to build a nuclear warhead in mid-2003, and the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency, which is investigating the program, has found no evidence to date of an active Iranian nuclear-weapons project.
Lost in all the back and forth over what to do about Iran is the simple fact that there is no real evidence of actual wrongdoing by Iran. As far as anyone knows, they are NOT developing nuclear weapons. They are not (insert x number of months) away from a nuclear bomb, and even if they were, the IAEA would know about it. It's not easy to enrich/weaponize large amounts of nuclear material in secret, especially in this, the satellite age.

It would be wise for all of us to keep this in mind the next time we hear politicians talking about the growing threat of Iran.

Of course, there are other issues of contention. No one seriously disputes that Iran is the main backer of Hezbollah, and that they try and promote their interests inside Iraq, sometimes by undermining the legitimate Iraqi government. Iran is not exactly a warm and fuzzy country, and relations between them and the West are cool for good reason. But despite what the neo-cons want us to think, they are not Nazi Germany, and the sooner we start seriously talking to them, the better.

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