I know a little bit about the development of nuclear weapons, and I am comfortable saying that if Iran wants them, Iran will get them. There are a few tricks, but basically everything from Manhattan is now public, and what a group of geniuses could do in less than three years in the 1940′s (the “Manhattan Engineering District” formed in August 1942; Trinity occurred in July 1945) a group of medium-average scientists, engineers and bureaucrats can do in a decade. It is possible to run nuclear reactors deep underground (to my certain knowledge Russia was still running plutonium-producing reactors several hundred meters underground in the mid-1990s).
If it wants them, Iran will build nuclear weapons and there is nothing anyone who is not prepared to invade, occupy and obliterate the Iranian nation can do about it.
Personally, I’m not prepared to do that, and the flat-out stupidity of our current engagement with Iran is appalling. We have tried nothing but violence, threats of violence, and various kinds of economic sanctions, which have never worked.
If Iran gets the bomb and uses it we will take the country away. We–and by “we” I mean everybody, East, West, North, South and Sideways–will invade, occupy and destroy. It will be an event of surpassing hideousness. But for some reason there are people who seem to want to do that now, to sacrifice the possibility of future peace, prosperity and stability to save us from a purely hypothetical future in which Iran gets the bomb and uses it.
As it stands, every threat produces an entirely predictable counter-threat, as both sides idiotically escalate. Violence always begets violence, because human beings do not lie down: the greater the threat the less likely we are to surrender, to quit or to run. It’s really kind of admirable if you ignore the corpses. So if I wanted a war with Iran I would pursue exactly the course that the US and Europe are pursuing: a course of threats and bludgeoning, relentless pressure that creates internal cohesion and support for the government in Iran.
The non-Iranian world is in a position of overwhelming strength. We have the power, the money, the people, the technology, the know-how and the will to defend our values and our systems of open, diverse, democratic government without fomenting war in foreign lands. We are strong enough and brave enough to say, “Let war come to us, if it must. We will not help it happen.”
Let us say to the rulers of Iran, “Go ahead and build your bomb if you feel Allah has abandoned you. Build your bomb if you are so afraid that Allah does not love you and will not protect you. We’ll be watching you, and wishing the people of Iran well. We know that they are your first victims, and one day they will rise up against you. We look forward to that day with joyous anticipation, but recognize that it is something they must do themselves. But we will be making fun of your idiotic ideas of government and your ridiculous system of law, and slowly, surely and inexorably teaching the children of the world that faith is a lie, Bayesian empiricism is the only way of knowing, and war is rarely effective and never efficient. If you bring it to us, we will return it to you. But in the meantime, we are going to focus our energies on peace, prosperity and trade, not war. Not even with you.”