4-1: On Confront and Conceal

One important question from Chapter 6 of Sanger’s Confront and Conceal that I think needs to be addressed is whether the assassination of Iranian scientists is an effective strategy. Leaving aside the different moral and ethical arguments, do you think it is useful in this situation? Do you think these targeted assassinations are making Iranian scientists more wary about participating in the nuclear program, or that they are discouraging prospective scientists from pursuing a degree in nuclear physics? Sanger suggests on Page 150 that assassinations have “made scientists wonder if every trip to work may be their last.” Or, do you think that these have had the opposite effect, making current workers on the nuclear program more determined, and serving as a recruitment tool? On page 143, Sanger describes how Abbasi was angry and motivated after the failed assassination attempt.

Sanger highlights in Chapter 7 how the US has been very cautious about their actions with regards to Iraq. Bush would not support the dangerous paramilitary activity to mark the concrete that was to go into the bunker at Qom. Obama urged members of the CIA not to interfere with the Iranian elections in any way. In hindsight, both of these decisions were probably correct due to the logistics of the situations. However, do you think that there is a point where it will be necessary for the US to act in Iran? If some form of action is necessary, what sort of action do you think should be attempted first: an overt military action like a bunker bombing, or some sort of covert subtle action aimed at changing the aggressive political ideology of Iran, or some sort of cyber warfare? Obviously a lot of this depends of the logistics of an individual action and its likelihood of success. However, given the US’s shaky history of covert action in Iran, as well as our experience in Iraq, which sort of action should the US seek first with modern Iran?

In a recent article, David Sanger said that Iran was slowing their accumulation of medium-enriched uranium. This would push the timeline of when Iran would reach Netanyahu’s red line back from the early summer to sometime in the fall. In Chapter 7, Sanger notes that there is an internal debate in Iran as to whether they should stop at the brink of obtaining a nuclear weapon and maintain the ability to obtain one very quickly. If Iran does adopt this strategy, what should the US response be? — Alec