Opinion Brief

Would Obama attack Iran to stop it from getting nukes?

The IAEA warns that Tehran is perilously close to building a bomb, and critics worry that Obama won't do what it takes to stand in Iran's way

The United Nations' nuclear watchdog says Iran is on the verge of acquiring the capability to build its first atomic bomb, thanks to crucial technology it seems to have received from experts in Pakistan, North Korea, and the former Soviet Union. The new report from the International Atomic Energy Agency, which will be published in full this week, is renewing the debate over whether diplomatic pressure can persuade Iran's leaders to back down, or if it will take a military a strike to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Will President Obama do whatever it takes to keep Tehran from going nuclear?

Obama probably won't attack Iran — even if he should: We are rapidly approaching the moment when "we'll be presented with a choice: Accept a nuclear-armed Iran or take military action," says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. But the Obama administration is still "spinning a fairy tale, namely that sanctions are 'working' and Iran is 'isolated' like never before." If Obama doesn't wise up, his team won't be remembered "for its economic incompetence," but "as the gang that let the mullahs get the bomb.""Is Obama going to let Iran get the bomb?"

Obama will do what it takes — even if that means war: Tehran is betting Obama won't OK a military strike, says David Rothkopf at Foreign Policy. Many U.S. analysts also believe Obama wouldn't risk the "upheaval" a war would bring. But Obama knows that the short-term consequences of a brief war with Iran  — say, an oil spike — would be nothing compared to the long-term uncertainty a nuclear-armed Iran would bring. Obama's daring enough to attack if that's what it takes — Osama bin Laden learned that lesson the hard way.  "The world is misleading Obama on Iran"

Obama won't attack Iran — and he shouldn't: "The White House doesn't want war with Iran, and there won't be one," says Robert Dreyfuss at The Nation. Despite all the "alarmist rhetoric," the nuclear inspectors don't know for sure whether Iran is close to building a bomb, or even that its nuclear weapons program is "still active." And even if Tehran is close to building a bomb, isolating Iran will only put its "back up against the wall and cause it to accelerate, not slow down, its program." Maybe the best thing to do is "to develop a containment strategy for a post-nuclear Iran." "That IAEA report on Iran"

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