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Senators Dan Coats and Charles Robb and General (ret.) Charles Wald

Prior to last year's presidential election, a task force of the Bipartisan Policy Center prepared a report, Meeting the Challenge, that suggested how the new administration might curtail Iran's nuclear and weapons programs. This September 2009 update by three of its authors, refreshes the earlier analysis and recommendations and warns that "Time is Running Out" for ensuring that Iran does not develop and perhaps proliferate nuclear weapons and technology and thereby disrupt energy markets, destabilize the Middle East, eradicate Israel, and assist international terrorism.

Though the earlier report recommended that negotiations follow laying the financial and military groundwork for stronger action prior to commencing negations, the authors accept President Obama's reversal of the order of events. Even so, they urge an accelerated timetable--about two months--for diplomatic progress. Predicting that by 2010 Iran will possess a nuclear weapon, a rocket capable of carrying it least 1,200 miles, and an improved air defense system using Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, the authors emphasize the likely necessity of strong sanctions and military action lest Israel launch its own defensive military strike.

To give urgency to their arguments for a limited period of negotiations, the authors also analyze Iran's nuclear weapons and missile programs, assess the vulnerabilities of Iran's domestic politics and economy, and predict the likely response to U.S. efforts by Israel, major powers, and Gulf States. They emphasize the risks of delay and explain the ineffectiveness of a policy of containment or deterrence as regards Iran.

Lacking speedy diplomatic progress, they recommend sanctions that would target Iran's banking, commercial, and energy sectors--to include reducing its access to gasoline. Concurrently, the U.S. should begin overt preparations for the use of military means to end Iran's nuclear weapons program--moving an additional carrier battle group to the region, conducting joint exercises with Persian Gulf allies, preparing to impose a naval blockade, and positioning strike forces within Afghanistan.

Reviewed by James L. Abrahamson, contributing editor
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Author:Abrahamson, James L.
Publication:American Diplomacy
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 28, 2009
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