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The Gospel on Iran

By Matthew Yglesias

"The Gospel on Iran"

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Textual interpretation of statements by former president Rafsanjani aside, other things to keep in mind regarding the Iran issue:

  • There is overwhelming theoretical and historical reason to believe that no country would mount an unprovoked nuclear first strike against a country with a credible second-strike nuclear deterrent.

  • There is no particular reason to believe that Iran is especially close to obtaining a workable nuclear weapon.
  • There is very little reason to believe that an unprovoked unilateral military attack on Iran will substantially delay the date at which Iran may or may not be in a position to build a nuclear weapon.
  • The phrase “point of no return,” though often heard in this debate, has no real practical meaning and, in particular, it’s worth pointing out that many nations have passed this point without constructing nuclear weapons.
  • Nothing is more likely to convince future Iranian governments that they should engage in unprovoked “preventative” attacks on other nations in the region than a history of said other nations launching unprovoked “preventative” attacks on Iran.
  • There is substantial empirical and theoretic reason to believe that the Iranian nuclear program is substantially defensive (though probably not “peaceful”) in nature.
  • The very administration currently pushing toward a military confrontation with Iran has, in the past, rebuffed Iranian peace overtures and consistently refused to attempt good-faith negotiations aimed at resolving outstanding bilateral disputes between the United States and Iran.

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