The South Carolina Republican said this week that he would introduce a resolution in the Senate authorizing war with Iran should nothing change in negotiations over its nuclear program in the next two months. And last night on Fox News, Graham appeared to outline his thinking behind that idea.
“The trifecta from hell is unfolding in front of us,” Graham said. “Iran is about to get a nuclear weapon. Syria is about to infect the entire region, taking Jordan down, and Egypt could become a failed state.”
And later, as if trying to bolster his feverish portrayal of current events, Graham laid down the bottom line. “I’m just telling you,” he told Fox’s Greta Van Susteren, “we live in the most dangerous times imaginable.” Watch the clip:
We’ll leave it to others to debate whether we’re currently living in the most dangerous times, but we’re fairly certain that Senator Graham doesn’t have a particularly grand imagination.
But is Iran “about to get a nuclear weapon”? Here’s what former U.S. Ambassadors William Leurs and Thomas Pickering and international security expert Jim Walsh had to say about this issue in a recent article for the New York Review of books:
[T]here is no evidence that Iran has made a decision to build nuclear weapons, but it has the basic ability to do so. It can enrich uranium, was given a bomb design by A.Q. Kahn’s network, and likely engaged in some explosives testing for an implosion device, based on the principle of compressing nuclear fuel so that its density increases (as was the case with the bomb used at Nagasaki). The US and other governments have said that it would take Iran at least a year to go from a weapons decision to a usable weapon. Iran’s nuclear program could continue to expand if it can successfully utilize an advanced centrifuge design or bring the Arak reactor on line and develop a reprocessing capability to separate plutonium from the spent fuel. Iran has not resolved questions about its past nuclear activities, but its current program is under intense international scrutiny.
So while Iran is keeping its options open on nuclear weapons, as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said, the country’s leadership hasn’t made the decision to take its program that far, and if it did, it could take up to a year, maybe a few months sooner utilizing more advanced centrifuges, to build a weapon.
So what’s driving Lindsey Graham’s overheated rhetoric on Iran? Some have argued that a potential primary battle is driving him further to the right, but at the same time, Graham has been pushing for a military conflict with Iran for quite some time.