- Has the US Set a March Deadline for War on Iran?
by John Glaser, http://antiwar.com/blog
Last month the US issued an ultimatum to Iran, demanding it fully cooperate with the IAEA by March or else face further action and possible measures at the UN Security Council. Micah Zenko, fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, speculates that this “could indicate that the Obama administration is moving toward the zone of immunity logic.”
Zenko is referring to the Israeli standard for deciding to go to war with Iran. Up to now, the Israeli standard to attack Iran is not when it has nuclear weapons or presents an imminent threat to Israel, but rather when Iran’s nuclear program is sufficiently advanced and redundant across the country – although not being weaponized – that Israeli military action would be inadequate to significantly retard it.
The US standard, at least as commonly understood, has been a little stricter. Washington has implied it will resort to war only if Iran is demonstrably weaponizing its nuclear program and on the verge of having a nuclear bomb.
Despite the semantic differences, the two postures are essentially the same. Both the US and Israel have ignored the legal standard for resorting to war – to block an imminent attack, i.e. self-defense – and crafted their own standard, which says they can bomb Iran to smithereens if they judge that at some point in the future Iran might be able to deter US or Israeli aggression. Iran must be kept weak and defenseless, the thinking goes, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to obliterate them at will.
This speaks to Iran’s nuclear posture, which is aimed at what is sometimes called “a breakout capability.” In an environment of constant threats of war, economic sanctions, and being surrounded by the US military, Iran has tried to abstain from developing nuclear weapons while having the know-how needed to get there; this essentially is an attempt to have a deterrent without actually having a deterrent. They don’t get in trouble for having a weapon, but they are able to ward off attack or invasion.