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Iranian students and the A-bomb

June 20, 2009

The young people of Iran are in the streets again today, protesting the recent election results. It’s worth noting that in many regions, more than 100% of the voters turned out.  That’s better GOTV than even ACORN can do.

Most security experts agree that Mousavi will not end the Iranian nuclear weapons program. Not that it matters much.  On Friday, Khamenei indicated that the protesters need to go home – or else. With Iran thought to be a year or less away from being able to build a nuclear device, it’s worth considering what effect the riots will have on foreign policy efforts to eliminate Irans nuclear threat. Most governments seem to be split on how to respond. While several Israeli leaders belive the riots will be brutally supressed, a few feel that the protesters have a chance at succeeding.

As long as people feel that the youth of Iran (who make up 60% of Iran’s population) have a chance to overthrow Khamenei, they will be hesitant to engage in either UN sanctions or negotiations with Ahmadinejad. Iran will be able to produce a nuclear warhead by 2011, according to Joint Chiefs chairman Mike Mullen. If we spend months waiting, fingers crossed, for the Iranian youth movement to seize control, then more months analyzing the changes in Iran’s power structure and motivations, we’ll be almost out of time to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. And if, as many suspect, Iran is learning from North Korea, they may be much closer than we think. And there’s strong evidence of a North Korea-Iran alliance.

If the 3-year time period is really a long estimate, we may have a year to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions. How many of those 12 months can we spend waiting for Iran to settle on a new leader? Clearly, an American or Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would dramatically change the situation in Iraq. But how much would it really hurt? It seems to me the lesser evil is one in which Iran has no nukes.

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