Iran Tea Leaves…Getting much attention this morning is a Times of London report that Israel has drawn up plans for an air and land assault on Iran?s nuclear facilities. And some specific plans are laid out. But let?s pause for a moment to suggest that drawing up plans is not the same thing as agreeing on a policy. The comments by Israeli Knesset Foreign and Defense Affairs committee member Ephraim Sneh in Ha?aretz would seem to suggest that leaked plans are useful for posturing, but that bombs will not begin falling shortly.
That said, I am also skeptical of reports from late last week that the Bush administration puts much store in a diplomatic solution to Iran?s nuclear ambitions. The other part of the agreement reached between the US and European allies last week is just as important: the European troika agreed that if Iran rejects economic incentives to curtail its nuclear program, then they will go along with the US in having Iran referred in noncompliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to the UN Security Council ? the same early path charted by the Bush administration on Iraq. And don?t forget who the Bush administration has just nominated to represent the US at the UN, John Bolton.
What does it all mean? Of course, Israel, the US, and the Europeans share the desire that Iran could be persuaded through diplomatic means to abandon its nuclear program. It just doesn’t seem likely to succeed. What the Bush administration appears to have accepted is that it needs to make a good faith effort at appearing to pursue diplomatic options, before they are deemed unsuccessful.