In an op-ed published in Thursday’s New York Times, Bolton slams the Obama administration’s ongoing negotiations to contain Iran’s nuclear program as unrealistic, and argues that “only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required.”
“The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program,” Bolton writes. A military attack, carried out in conjunction with Israel, on the country’s uranium enrichment facilities and other targets “could set back its program by three to five years.”
Bolton, a strong proponent of Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq, has a long and sordid history of advocating for military campaigns that fail to live up to his expectations. In 2002, while serving in the Bush administration as United States Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, Bolton assured Americans that, “We are confident that Saddam Hussein has hidden weapons of mass destruction and production facilities in Iraq.” “I expect that the American role actually will be fairly minimal. I think we’ll have an important security role,” he claimed.
His current predictions about Iran could prove just as faulty.
American and Israeli military leaders warn that any strike against Iran would only set Iran back two or three years and could gravely destabilize the region. As former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who served under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, predicted, such action would “bring together a divided nation, it will make them absolutely committed to obtaining nuclear weapons.” The Bush administration also considered military intervention in Iran but decided against it after concluding that bombing “would guarantee that which we are trying to prevent — an Iran that will spare nothing to build a nuclear weapon and that would build it in secret” and would likely require military occupation.
Experts point out that a strike against Iran “could not be accomplished in a single sortie and would require employing much greater force than Israel used against Iraq and Syria.” While Iraq and Syria relied on outside suppliers for their nuclear capabilities and were thus unable to rebuild their programs, “Iran would not need outside help” and will reconstitute a more covert operation, a 2008 report published by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) claims.
According to press accounts, the United States, Iran, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany, are now closing the gap around an agreement that would establish a regime of strict inspections for at least a decade and controls on Iran’s uranium enrichment — preventing it from obtaining enough materials for weaponization. Should Iran comply, the international community would then lift economic sanctions against the country. Obama insists that the United States would only sign off on an agreement that ensures that each pathway to a bomb is closed off.