Professor Graham Allison at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government invokes a provocative image to help people understand how far Iran has come in developing its nuclear technology.
In the op-ed section of the Washington Post today, Allison writes: "The brute fact is that Iran has crossed a threshold that is painful to acknowledge but impossible to ignore: It has lost its nuclear virginity."
Allison is director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School, and has advised successive US administrations on nuclear proliferation and the threat of nuclear terrorism.
In the Post, he argues that the Obama administration risks following the Bush Administration in getting mired in trying to stop Iran from enriching uranium, when it's clear Iran already has that capacity, with 4,000 centrifuges running and enough low-enriched uranium in hand to take the next technical steps toward further enrichment and a first nuclear weapon if it opts to do so.
"The bottom line for American policy is that the menu of feasible options has shrunk. Every option available at this point requires living with an Iran that knows how to enrich uranium. Continued denial of this truth is self-delusion."
Graham also says the United States ought to stop focusing its attention on the Iranian nuclear enrichment facility at Natanz, which the West knows quite well, and look elsewhere for potential covert nuclear activities. Staying focused on Natanz, Allison writes, is llike "the drunk looking for his car keys under the lamppost, even though he knows he dropped them a hundred yards away, because that is where the light is."
Iran has said repeatedly that it is developing its nuclear capacity not for a weapon but for nuclear energy, which it is entitled to do under international law. Allison says the world should hold Iran's supreme leader to that pledge, and make clear that it is prepared to take severe action if Iran doesn't live up to it.
The Obama administration cannot restore Iran's nuclear innocence," Allison concludes. "Its challenge is to prevent the birth of the next nuclear-weapons state."
About this blog
About James F. SmithJim Smith came home to his native Boston in 2002 to become the Boston Globe's foreign editor after spending 22 years abroad. He was previously based in Buenos Aires and Mexico City for the LA Times, and in Johannesburg, Tokyo and The Hague for the AP. In 2007 he became the Globe's national political editor, coordinating presidential campaign coverage. He is a Yale graduate, and has an MBA. He is married to Maxine Hart and has two sons, Matthew and Daniel.
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