Iran and the Bomb

25/11/2011 16:13 GMT | Updated 25/01/2012 10:12 GMT

The latest report by the International Atomic Energy Agency about Iran's nuclear armament exploded like a bomb onto the world of Washington think tanks.

In two high-ranking round-tables, of which one is particularly close to President Obama and the other to the Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the topics of military intervention and regime change in Iran were discussed more openly and concretely than ever before.

Pessimists estimate that Teheran will have a nuclear weapon at its disposal in two months at the earliest, and in 22 months at the latest.

Optimists believe that for the time being Iran is aiming at blackmailing her neighbors and at restructuring the balance of power in the Middle East and not at a strike against Israel or Saudi Arabia. However there is the great danger that an impulsive purchase of nuclear weapons by several states out of fear could turn the region into a seething cauldron.

The planned attacks on the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington and the assassination plot against the ambassador gave great cause for concern.

Also President Ahmadinejad has intensified his aggressive rhetoric against Israel and the USA. In Israel intense discussions about a strike against Iran are secretly held. Even though a leading intelligence officer spoke publicly against it, the military option is taken seriously.

The decision depends on America's attitude and on the at least passive support by the anti-Iranian, Sunni powers of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates at the Gulf.

The latest news also encourages those who until now have advised against a mission to attack after all. The proponents in Washington of a military intervention are fully aware of the political consequences. However, they believe that a potential end with terror is better than certain terror without an end.

Washington is under no illusion that Europe could be incorporated operationally into military action against Iran. The French and the British have gone to the utmost of their strengths in their intervention in Libya. Germany is not seen as the country that actively intervenes in a military fashion but some moral support is hoped for.

However, even the most ardent advocates of a military intervention make clear that all the stops need to be pulled out prior to it in order to convince Tehran by means of economic sanctions to stop its nuclear program.