What to do about Iran?

What to do about Iran?

As Jews beat their chests in penitence on Yom Kippur earlier this week, our political leaders began beating their chests in a show of strength in their confrontation with Iran.

With the revelation of a secret nuclear facility in Iran and Monday’s test of missiles capable of reaching Israel and other Western targets, the world powers have been emboldened to push for tougher sanctions against the Islamic regime.

We find ourselves faced with issues of trust and logistics.

Logistics refer to those surrounding possible military action. The newly revealed Qum facility inside the base of a mountain adds a significant obstacle to an already difficult military operation if Israel decides to go that route. And if Israel is able to successfully attack Iran’s nuclear facilities – without sparking a regional war – for how long would the nuclear program stall? Would the Iranians suddenly realize the folly of their nuclear pursuit? Or would they begin again, in more heavily fortified structures?

Sanctions may be the best hope for persuading Iran to step back at this point, but even in that arena we find ourselves unable to trust the Iranians. Iran continues to refuse to surrender even an inch in the nation’s “right” to join the nuclear club. Earlier this week the Iranians informed the International Atomic Energy Agency that they would soon be ready for inspections at Qum. The very notion that the IAEA has to wait for Iranian approval – allowing the Iranians time to conceal what they need to – is proof of the organization’s impotence in reeling in the Islamic republic. How vigorously, then, would sanctions be enforced?

Another option – to be pursued in tandem with sanctions? – would be to encourage regime change from within. But that takes time, which we may not have.

As bleak as these options may be, to do nothing would be even more dangerous.

The path toward resolving the Iranian issue is murkier than ever before, while the need to move quickly has never been felt as greatly as it is now. We do not envy the decisions facing world leaders, but they have had years to study the right course of action, and Iran may very well pre-empt them.