Skip to main content

tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  March 30, 2012 9:00am-12:00pm EDT

9:00 am
we intended and adapt and they accomplished the mission. if adaptability which might be a kissing cousin of resilience in a way i'm, if adaptability is an important leader attribute for the future than your question becomes how do you do that? how do you build adaptability? i started to think about that. ..
9:01 am
when i look back at myself and confront myself as a how did i become back, i think the answer was by being placed in unfamiliar circumstances i've been pushed to the point where look, young men and women today, this is not an indictment. it's just what it is. it's kind of the youth soccer model of everybody gets in trouble, right? i'm not against that. but what i am against is that everybody gets a trophy all the time. and everybody grows up thinking they're the best soccer put out on the field. all of a sudden you get to high school and you fail to make your soccer team and you say, that's not possible, look at all these trophies i have on my shelf over here. here. [laughter] so he do accept us as early thinking about how we get at
9:02 am
your question, i think what we need to do is figure out which are the enduring attributes, and there are plenty of them, integrity and honor and courage, those are enduring. we will never change that has a purpose of our profession and its developmental approach. but there are others now i think, pretty sure. adaptability is one. then you have the map to it, your training and education. and i'm suggesting to you that the way we map to adaptability is through the three challenges that i just described. and then we make sure that in our training and in our education that we do that, we push people a little further than they need to go. it's about building the life skills that you all have been talking about as part of this conference. as i said, i think these two phrases are actually kissing cousins. okay, they have given me the hook. let me just thank you for being here, and for taking on this
9:03 am
topic. i think this is the third year now. fourth? great. i look forward to finding out what you have learned year and what you're recommending to us. i promise you that i will be an advocate for, because i'm committed to maintaining the bond of trust that i described to you earlier. and i wish you all a very quiet and restful weekend. thanks very much. [applause] >> boom, attention. >> we will lead us conference at this point as they move onto other topics. you can seek in at our website, go to c-span.org. going live to the cato institute for discussion on u.s. policy towards iran, looking at response of that country's nuclear program and what should
9:04 am
happen if diplomacy efforts fail to curtail its nuclear efforts. [inaudible conversations] >> [inaudible conversations]
9:05 am
>> [inaudible conversations] >> all right, thank you very much. welcome. welcome to the cato institute. my name is christopher preble, i'm the vice president for defense and foreign policies here at cato. i as -- it's been my great pleasure to welcome you to the new auditorium, and to the newly redesigned cato institute. so welcome.
9:06 am
and we are very fortunate to have for this conference a terrific lineup, to panel. it's my privilege to be able to introduce them. i do want to thank before i forget the fund for their support of this project. and really congratulate, thank my colleague justin logan who's responsible for for organizing it. i think many of you here in the audience how the bios, but for those of you are watching online, for your benefit -- what's that? or on c-span, right. i which is quickly want to introduce the four panelists who will be speaking in the order they will speak, and then i will get out of the way and let them get started. our first speaker today will be michael adler, public policy scholar at woodrow wilson center. as a reporter for the press he covered the uprising in burma in 1980, the reconstruction of kuwait, after the first gulf war, the war in bosnia and moving the german capital from bonn to berlin. he covered the fall in -- from
9:07 am
2002-2007, and he has reported from tehran, geneva, berlin, new york, tripoli and other key cities and his curly writing a book on the diplomacy of the iranian nuclear crisis. our second speaker today is barbara slavin, specializing in iran as a nonresident senior fellow at the atlantic council it as a public policy scholar at the woodrow wilson center for scholars, she authored better friends, bosom enemies. she was assistant managing editor for world and national security "washington times," 2008-2009. prior to that she served 12 years as senior diplomatic reporter for "usa today." where she covered such key issues as the u.s. war on terrorism and iraq, policy towards rogue states and the arab-israeli conflict. she accompanied three secretaries of state on the official travels and also reported solo from iran, israel,
9:08 am
egypt, north korea, russia, china, syria, all the garden spots. our third speaker today is alireza nader. a senior international policy analyst at the rand corporation is research is focused on iran's political dynamics, decision-making and iranian foreign policy. train one's rand publications include coping with a nuclear rising iran, israel and iran's dangerous driver, the next supreme their come succession an islamic republic iran, saudi arabia and relations since the fall of saddam, and many others. his commentaries have appeared in the right of media including foreign policy.com, global security.org, the national here tribune, "the new york times" and others. he is a frequent guest on television and radio. and the final speaker is my friend and colleague justin logan, he is the director of foreign policy studies here at cato. he's an expert on u.s. grand
9:09 am
strategy, international theory. is currently search focuses on the shifting balance of power in asia and the formation of u.s. grand strategy under unipolar to. he authored numerous policies and articles including on u.s.-china policy, u.s.-russia policy, stabilization and reconstruction operations, and policy approaches toward a nuclear iran. his articles have appeared in many policy journals, including foreign policy international interest, and others. he also has appeared on many television and radio networks. with that i will get out of the way and i'll introduce our first speaker, michael adler. michael? >> good morning and thank you all for coming. >> would you please speak from the podium? >> oh, really? good morning. when i first was asked, the topic here today is can diplomacy work. when i was first asked to do this which was before the meeting of prime minister
9:10 am
netanyahu and president obama in washington, and they've asked me to defend the concept of diplomacy could work, i thought this would be a very thankless task. but it is amazing how much things have changed over the past month, in the month of march. and the first development was that the rush to war which seems to be accelerating, ground to a halt. not a screeching halt but a healthy way. there's still some screeching about war. when netanyahu met obama. and what happened there is the president, both gave a kind of statement the united states would eventually use force if necessary, but also said there still was time for diplomacy. and the israelis have reluctantly come aboard with that, and the day after the meeting of -- just want to watch the time -- the day after the meeting of the two leaders,
9:11 am
catherine ashton who is the foreign policy represented for the european union sent a letter to the negotiator on the nuclear issue to say that she had accepted talks, which she had proposed earlier. these talks are between six nations, britain, britain, china, france, germany, the united states and russia called the p5+1. these are the five permanent security council memos plus germany, and they've been negotiate with iran since about 2006. in a crisis that began in 2002, when it was revealed that iran had been hiding nuclear work for some two decades. but talks have not gone very well. there have been several signposts along the way, but not to go through the whole history, but what brings us up to what's happening now is that in october 2009 there was a meeting
9:12 am
at which the two sides agreed to a fuel swap where iran would shut out most of the enriched uranium it had made, in return for getting fuel for a research reactor in tehran which makes medical isotopes. the idea behind that, the idea behind these talks in general is that it would be a confidence building measure. iran would have shipped out most of its enriched uranium which makes them less able to break out to make a nuclear weapon. at the same time they would've gotten a de facto recognition of continuing their enrichment and that would set the stage for serious talks. that deal fell apart. then there were two meetings in geneva, in december of 2010, and then in istanbul in january 2011. at which the two sides try to relaunch the process. this ended badly. the meeting in istanbul after the meeting in geneva was -- free reign to express their
9:13 am
opinion. the iranians brought out a range of other concerns they have about world peace, about the influence of capitalism in the world. the iranians came to the second meeting, and instead of negotiating, impose to conditions which basically kill the process. and they were that all the sanctions against them would be lifted, and that they would have an unequivocal right to enriched uranium. so this prevented any better deals in istanbul. and after that pretty much you had a growing market to war, what can i say? israel was about to take action. iran's supreme program as an existential threat. and that was what was stopped at the beginning of this month. and now have the talks coming up again. so these talks are not taking place in a hopeless atmosphere where people are just going through the motions.
9:14 am
these talks are actually a chance for a new start, after there has been a step back from going to war. so i guess the question to ask is what is the chance of success? i think that certainly the p5+1 and serving the united states are coming to these talks with low expectations. and the success of the talks will probably be it a second round is scheduled. the second round would occur very quickly, because the idea would be to start moving ahead. but this is not the meeting at which there will be a dramatic breakthrough. this is not the meeting in which there will be a fuel swap and a major confidence building measure. so the main thrust of what's happening is just start talking again. but once again, it is in an atmosphere of saying we have stopped the russians, let's
9:15 am
release the diplomacy for more. in the past there has been, it's been very much a set talk. and justin said to me i should come up with a suggestion about how it can be better. my suggestion which will never happen is that when they sit down, the talks are scheduled from mid-april, we don't know where they'll be. they were probably be somewhere in switzerland. when they sit down i think p5+1 should say you know something? let's not really get down to talks until the afternoon. let's have some tea, let's talk to each other, how is your family, what are things like in tehran. because the iranians like this sort of approach. the iranians want an informal kind of talk where everything is laid on the table at once, and so i think the best thing that the united states can say to the
9:16 am
iranians at this meaning is how can we, tell us how we can help you. we're in this together, let's try to work it out. i don't think that's going to happen, but i do think there's a real determination, at least on the american side, to make these talks work. so there will be an effort to do things in a way where the iranians can feel that there is a forearm for them to talk it. another way to measure the success of the talks is that there are bilateral talks between the united states and iran. iran very much wants to talk directly to the united states. iran feels that the united states is the first, is the country which is going to deliver the goods. and at the beginning of this process, from 2003-2006, the europeans were doing most of negotiating. and the united states was not even present at the table. and diplomats told me that they always felt that the rings were looking over their shoulders to see where were the americans to
9:17 am
guarantee the kind of security guarantees, the kind of delivery of technology that would make the deal work. so i think a key sign of success of this meeting will be bilateral talks between iranian representatives and between the american representatives. and the talks in geneva the last talks, there were no, i don't between the americans and the iranians. if we get through this first round, and if we get to a second round, which would have been fairly quickly, that's where the real difficulty begins. because we want to have the confidence building measure. if this can't be a fuel swap, what would be a smaller sort of confidence building measure, it might be something called adhering to the additional protocol where iran would agree to inspections other nuclear facilities. it might be iran agreeing to give early notification when it is constructing nuclear facilities. right now iran only discloses
9:18 am
nuclear facilities six months before they're going to introduce nuclear material. those believe it or not are the small things. the larger confidence building measures -- would be iran enriches uranium right now to 3.5%, which is the level needed for nuclear reactors. they also started to enrich 20% because they didn't get fuel for the research reactor. at 20% is very close to the above 90% you need to make a nuclear weapon, because it's an exponential. it's arithmetic. now, the thing is the first really significant confidence building measure is if they stop enriching to 20% and ship out the 20% they have already made. this would really be a sign that we're in a process that means something.
9:19 am
it is a sign the israelis are looking for, where then it is a sign they are serious. i want to wrap up because i've been asked to. after this would come a larger fuel swap where they would ship out much of their low-enriched uranium and at that point i think p5+1 would begin to move towards freezing sanctions. if that happens, we would definitely be in a significant process. of course, the chances of that are low, but the bottom line is that there is hope of a serious process which words unforeseen two, three months ago, and let's see how it develops. thank you very much. [applause] >> good morning. thank you, kidder, for inviting me. i basically want to endorse much of michel's analysis. i think that the race to war has been halted.
9:20 am
i think president obama handled netanyahu brilliantly, and he embraced him close and at the same time he basically read him the riot act and said no you're not going to start a war now and you will not start a war before my reelection, at least my hope for reelection. if you look at the remarks that were made at the aipac conference and when the two of them mad and afterwards, i think this is rather clear. at the same time we have seen some interesting signals from tehran, and perhaps trend one will talk about that a little more. not exactly, well, what -- right after the comments that obama made talking about decrying the loose talk of war and stressing that diplomacy was his preferred option for dealing with iranian nuclear program, the supreme leader reiterated in 1995 hot
9:21 am
law which he said building nuclear weapons would be a quote great sin, unquote. and he praised obama which is something -- not something the supreme leader of iran does. he said such remarks and indicate a step out of delusions. he also, at the same time claimed that the economic sanctions that have been imposed on iran are having absolutely no effect. as we all know the sanctions are having a huge effect and i think this is another reason why we might actually have a diplomatic option in front of us. for those of you who haven't been following it, the sanctions are unlike any that have been imposed on iran since the 1979 revolution. they are the most draconian i think that a been imposed on any government, if you look at terms of u.n. sanctions combined with the american sanctions, european sanctions. iranian banks are basically
9:22 am
excommunicated now from international financial system. there are very few things in iran that can do any kind of transactions. iran is resorting to barter increasingly. i would refer you to the atlantic council website would have a number of papers that task force has done and a couple that deal in particular with iran's reliance on china and on barter transactions. hard currency can't change hands. currency can't change hands, so essential iran is sending oil to countries such as india and china, getting a credit and receiving back goods and services from those countries. iranian oil production is going down. i think in part because iran realizes it can't sell the oil that it wants and get the money that it wants. it's down to 3.3 million barrels a day. that's down from 3.8 million barrels a day just a few months ago, and for .1 million barrels a day a year or so ago. this is truly hurting the iranian economy, the currency
9:23 am
has dropped in value by about half against the dollar. inflation is a. unemployment is up and there is a lot of discontent within the country. so what are the other signals were seeing from iran that it might actually do with the united states and the rest of the p5+1? the kind of things that we follow like hawks, if you're interested in iranian internal politics and foreign policy. on march 5 iranian supreme court ordered the retrial of a former u.s. marine and iranian american who had been sentenced to death for supposedly spying for the cia. on march 13, the u.s. deported back to iran an arms dealer, and iranian arms dealer who had been caught in a sting operation in the republic of georgia a few years earlier. and in this country it was revealed our treasury department has begun an investigation into the former governor of pennsylvania, ed rendell, and
9:24 am
several others for taking money to promote an organization called -- this is an iranian opposition group that is on the state department terrorist list that has been trying to get off the terrorism list for years. and has been paying very, very well-known former u.s. officials great sums of money to advocate getting off the terrorism list. they have not gotten off the list. they were supposed to i think a march 26 deadline for the state department to rule. that deadline is gone. and i would predict that go be no decision on this issue, certainly for the nuclear talks. this is another signal to iran because the iranian government hates this organization. it is believed to be responsible for assassinating either a reigning scientists over the last few years. in cahoots with others. so we have the new talks that are scheduled. i believe april 13, although there is still some, april 14,
9:25 am
some questions about the exact date and the exact venue. i agree with michel's analysis, i don't think we'll see any dramatic breakthrough, but what we are looking for is to manage the situation. nobody is going to follow the iranian conundrum overnight. the idea is to cap the programs in some way and do some limits, introduce some greater transparency that will contain the israelis. i think the problem is to contain israel, not so much to contain iran right now, that will provide confidence that iran is not rushing toward a nuclear weapon. it will also help contain the u.s. congress, which insist on passing more and more resolutions that would attempt to really tie the hands of the obama administration in negotiating solution. there is a resolution that would forbid the containment that was making its way through congress until rand paul stood up and said no, this is a kind of
9:26 am
backdoor authorization for war, and we can't have it. was remarkable i sure that we have to rely on rand paul to prevent congress from passing ridiculous legislation, but there you have it. there are a number of proposals that are out there to provide this kind of management of nuclear issue, and michael has referred to some of them. most of them center around iran halting enrichment to 20% to 35 which is perilously close to weapons grade. if iran will stop or slow that, if iran will stop enriching at a facility called for to come which is built into the side of a mountain, and they're very difficult for anyone to attack him if it would slow that, stop putting in more centrifuges there, that would be a major step. catherine ashton, the e.u. foreign policy chief has said that she wants a sustained process of constructive dialogue with an array. this is in her letter back to julie lee.
9:27 am
the way it worked was that passion for simpler to get rings last october it took iran until february to respond and then finally in march after the meeting between obama and netanyahu, ashton said yes, the p5+1 would be willing to me. she wants to assist in the process of constructive dialogue, which means that a one shot deal, not a two-day session in istanbul and nothing after that. so we do need to see that they're more been scheduled and that they begin to get into the nitty-gritty of the nuclear program. and that they're not just talking about principles that iran is something not presenting its litany of grievances against the west which is what is as done in the past are a couple more things about iranian internal politics that i think are useful. the iranians had parliamentary election march the second. they were not what we call free or fair, but the iranian government declared in a great success.
9:28 am
it included 64% of the iranians had participated, which is undoubtedly and inflated figure. there's a joke going around that 80% of iranians at home on television watching 70% of iranians vote on television. so there's something in there that is a little bit off. but nevertheless, this victory allowed the supreme leader i think to consolidate his base. he has won his fight with the president of iran, in case you might notice the resident of iran, ahmadinejad has been fighting the supreme leader for the last year. the supreme leader reach out to another of his rights, former president rafsanjani and he appointed one of the five year term as fed of something called the expediency council. which is a largely toothless group, but it is supposed to mediate conflicts between various branches of the government. rafsanjani of course is a famous
9:29 am
pragmatist, someone who is identify with outreach to the west. so this is another signal perhaps that the supreme leader can be a little bit more flexible in these negotiations. the u.s. goal is to prevent iran from developing a nuclear weapon. i think this is also very useful during the netanyahu-obama talks, that instead of talking about a nuclear weapons capability, which is what the senate resolution discuss and what the israelis have been harping on, for years, the red line out is an actual nuclear weapon. and this is a lot easier in terms of preventing a conflict and also a lot easier in terms of negotiations. it gives a lot of leeway for the iranians to maintain and enrichment program, but not a nuclear weapons program. and that kind of definition i think is going to be key if we're going to be able to achieve some sort of success. there's a very good report that
9:30 am
is out from the congressional research service just yesterday that talks about the fact that iran, of course we know that they have dispersed their nuclear facilities widely across the country, but also that their accounts that the centrifuges and places to make centrifuges widely dispersed around the country, which means that there is no military solution to the iranian nuclear program. you can bomb the known sites you can kill a bunch more scientists, but you not going to build to destroy iran's ability to reconstitute its nuclear program. and as many experts have suggested, bombing iran will be the one thing that would convince iran that it absolutely has to have a nuclear weapons program in order to deter future attacks. so i think we have seen some clarification, and very useful clear vacation in terms of the goals of u.s. foreign policy. in recent weeks. i personally think that if the united states and its allies fail in stopping iran from
9:31 am
developing nuclear weapons, containment is an excellent option. we have been containing the iranians for 33 years but i think we can continue to do so. iran is more isolated out in the region to advocate will get into a discussion of its problems with its neighbors, certainly it is very, very what about the situation in syria. it has lost its cachet, narrative as being the champion of the oppressed, doesn't wash so well when it is oppressing its own people, putting down demonstrations after its 2009 elections and it is supporting the assad regime in see. the real question is frankly whether the u.s., is going to go to come up with some creative ideas in what is for us and election year. and whether obama will have the courage as well as ayatollah khamenei have the courage. i will leave it there. [applause]
9:32 am
>> good morning. thanks to cato for inviting me today. i've been asked to basically talk about why diplomacy may not work with iran, what are the challenges. before i get into that i just want to commend people on experts, commentators, analysts who emphasize diplomacy with iran. because i don't think that a military strike against iran by the united states or israel would solve the iranian nuclear crisis. energy believe that it would be very counterproductive to u.s. interests and the middle east. and as barbara mentioned, there are signs, positive indication, that iran is open to compromise or engagement with the p5+1 and the united states. we just had parliamentary elections in iran with the supreme leader ayatollah khamenei has consolidate his
9:33 am
power. president ahmadinejad is not as big a player in politics we can argue that iran decision made on the nuclear program has been streamlined. in 2009 and after that one of the difficulties in engaging iran and reaching negotiated settlement was the fact that there are so many players involved, players that were often domestically opposed to each other. for example, ahmadinejad came under attack from the left and the right of the iranian political system for trying to broker a deal on uranium enrichment. so we can argue that how many is now more confident going forward. and as barbara mentioned, he did praise president obama for discounting were and emphasizing diplomacy. he has kept it less ideological former president rafsanjani
9:34 am
expediency council. one of his visors has stated that iran is open to compromise, et cetera, et cetera. we can list a number of other positive indications. and the hope here is that sanctions will put enough pressure on khamenei that he will back down. we know he's a reasonable man. he is a rational man who makes decisions on cost-benefit calculations, but we also have to look at what is it in for khamenei, what are his personal political interests? what are his ideological interests as the iranians preen leader? and more important, what is his worldview? how does he see the world, the united states and the nuclear program? when we look at khamenei, he really believes that the islamic republic is engaged in an existential conflict with the united states. that khamenei believes that the united states has never accepted
9:35 am
this revolution of 1989 and will never accept a revolution. he doesn't believe that united states is just opposed to iran's specific policies on the nuclear program, for example, but he has stated that the united states opposes the very essence of the islamic republic. i don't think this is going to change as long as khamenei is a lie. this is the way he thinks about the united states. he participated in the revolution. he was one of the revolutionary leaders. he helped overthrow the shah in what he believes to be u.s. domination of iran. so his worldview is very much based on his experience. the islamic republic and khamenei may even believe that the nuclear program is an important military deterrence against the united states. even if iran does not develop a nuclear weapon, the fact that it has a virtual capability that has the capability to assemble a nuclear weapon, if need be, i
9:36 am
think serves as a valuable deterrent for iran. and iran has -- like the regime of saddam hussein and the taliban with relative ease. and so the iranian decision-makers know that in the future the united states may take military action against iran to overthrow the regime. circumstances for that right now are not very good. this is not the u.s. intention, but it's a possibility for the future. in addition transit really believes that the nuclear program is a sign of his regime regime's success. he sees the nuclear program as a success with a revolution. despite the years of sanctions and isolation that iran has faced, and the sanctions we talk about right now are nothing new. in terms of them being strong, they are very draconian as barbara said, but iran has been under sanctions for more than 30
9:37 am
years. and khamenei believes that iran's progress on the nuclear program shows it is able to resist the united states. when you listen to khamenei speeches, this is a constant theme. he emphasizes iran's scientific progress. the last speech was all about how iran is ranked number 11 in terms of scientific progress. this is what he claims, et cetera, et cetera. of course khamenei's viewpoint of the nuclear program is not necessarily shared by all iranians. within the political elite, figures like rafsanjani, but also the leaders of the green movement, the reformist. they may not see any similar and ideological terms. in fact, that the isolation iran has faced sanctions hurt the social economic agenda of pragmatic conservatives and reformists who want to liberalize iran's economy, open it up to the world and act
9:38 am
political reforms. but this is not khamenei's mindset. he is very much compared to these other figures and isolationists, and ideological leader. it's not clear how the iranian public feels about the nuclear program. we hear that there is a sense of national pride. a lot of iranians support the growing aspect of the nuclear program. there's been a lot of polling done on the issue. we don't know for certain how iranians feel. i would argue that yes the regime has had some success in selling the nuclear program as a matter of national right. as iranians think well, why should israel, pakistan, india, et cetera, the west have access to nuclear technology, and why should we not? some iranians probably would argue that iran should have nuclear weapons. so the question remains will khamenei given to pressure
9:39 am
sanctions? sanctions have and i'll hurt iranian become. the iranian currency has really -- prices have gone incredibly high. the average iranian is really suffering, the middle-classes, some of the same people support democracy in iran. and this is one of the unfortunate aspects of sanctions, that it does hurt certain u.s. objectives as was hopes to dissuade iran from optimizing. but there's no indication that khamenei rethinking, fundamentally rethinking iran's position on the nuclear program. he has admitted that sanctions are painful, but there's signs is getting iran and its population ready for the long struggle with the united states. we will have, we would look at iran we have to remember that iran and the regime specifically has survived a lot. it has survived the revolution, a long war with iraq, years of sanctions, insurgencies.
9:40 am
khamenei has survived assassination attempts. he is not a man that could easily been. and he has named this year, i don't of the specific name, but the year of national labor and promoting iranian domestic productive. he really believes in the face of sanctions that iran can become more self-sufficient. and then he points out the nuclear program and other scientific achievements for this. in addition, khamenei, unlike his predecessor, ayatollah khamenei, the father of the revolution, is not as open from the political system. he has pushed aside like rafsanjani. they have been twice a week and that's a habit anymore. rafsanjani is not giving them advice. so khamenei is relying on a very small inner circle of revolutionary guards officers and security people to give him advice. in a lot of ways he is cut off
9:41 am
from the world. he believed that the united states is in geopolitical decline, that the united states basically decline in the middle east because of what he terms islamic awakening. what we call the arab spring, the iranian regime called islamic awakening. khamenei believes that u.s. influence in the middle east is on the wing because of the overthrow of pro-american regimes in tunisia, egypt, yemen. there's instability also in countries like bahrain, et cetera. so he believes that as iran stands strong in the face of sanctions, that the u.s. also faces these problems, that time may be on his side. we could argue that he is delusional. he has said that obama is acting from delusion but we can argue that he is delusional. but that we have in iran. this is the viewpoint of a man making decisions or the entire
9:42 am
iranian population. so where does that leave the united states in terms of policy options? i believe the next panel will talk about these options including military option. not a lot of people argue that within israel there is a military solution. if there is an attack against iran, iran -- the regime can crack down on opposition. there will be a greater swell of national pride but i don't think iran will necessarily forgive the regime for its is because of an attack, but it will put the regime, or it could very well put the regime in a favorable position, especially if the israelis did not manage to really damage iran's nuclear program very much. military strike will also set back the u.s. objective of democracy in iran, and could lead to greater instability in the region. diplomacy is a solution, and
9:43 am
barbara mentioned that the goal is really to manage the situation to prevent an armed conflict. but in terms of diplomacy, is going to rely on diplomacy as this situation can go on and on and on for the next several years but and ultimately it has to be a solution, not just to the iranian nuclear program, but a solution to the islamic republic. and our relation with the islamic republic that i would argue that as long as ayatollah khamenei is in power in iran will not solve her problems with iran, that he is not a normal relationship with the united state and he's going to do everything in his power to undermine u.s. interests in the region. i think the good news is that iran has not decided to weaponize its program. the u.s. intelligence community assesses that there is no indication that khamenei and leadership have decided to weapon nice the program, and
9:44 am
given the vulnerabilities the regime faces at home, lack of legitimacy, the woeful economic situation in iran, iranians receiving regional influence, including its troubles with allies like syria, this gives us the opportunity to contain the islamic republic and hope for something better to emerge in the future. because if you look at iran, i think iran more so than a lot of countries surrounding it had the real potential for a democratic system. and ultimately on a democratic iran will be the solution to the nuclear crisis. thank you. [applause] >> thanks very much. thank you all for coming. thank you to my co-panelists here. i had thought when we were originally drawn up the scum that is going to be a terrifically difficult case to make that there is some hope for diplomacy. and i think i agree with those on the other side of the table
9:45 am
that there is increasing hope, but i'm going to try my best to pour cold water on the increasing hope. despite the fact that i'm very, very much a supporter of diplomacy, i think i would support a much more ambitious diplomatic approach that is likely to happen. but i will explain some of the obstacles in terms of america and defensive politics in terms of sort of structural international reasons, in the international system. i should also reveal that i was doing work on iranian potential proliferation in 2006 in 2007, but for the past year or so i've been working on the asia-pacific region. so i'm actually having to pay the back to the middle east, as i think the administration is having to give it back to the middle east. so i will defer on many recent developments to my co-panelist. you have to savor the good thing about u.s.-iran our western iranian diplomacy is that they
9:46 am
are really good metaphors. there are zones of immunity, closing windows, clocks running at different speeds. it's like a salvador dali painting of nuclear proliferation. so again i want to reiterate, i favor diplomacy as overview of in. i will say we're probably unrealistically -- the very fact that approach is unrealistic that causes me to doubt whether or not we will get where we want to go. as i mentioned, then one covered quite well some of the iranian obstacles to diplomatic revolution problem. i would've focus on u.s. domestic politics and on some structural impediments, and then suggest where we might go from here to prove me wrong. so in terms of american domestic politics, the general aphorism that i've been trying to get out to public guides is what might work can't happen, and what might happen can't work. and i think that that's a fairly
9:47 am
glum assessment, and i hope i'm wrong about it, but that's what i believe at this point. as barbara mentioned, congress' attitude has been let's add more pressure on top of the existing pressure and promise not to put any more pressure if concessions are made. and, in fact, it is even stopped that last part of not putting any more pressure. the central bank sanctions, for example, the congress did not write an off ramp in for iran to say, oh, by the way if you fulfill these 57 demands that we are making, we will remove the sanctions. so if you're iranian and you look at what congress is doing and saying all right, what are the demands here that we could fulfill, conceivably, that would give us a way out of this, the congress has topped by large even just ring that the idea of an offer but i think that is something of an indication of the role that congress intends to play. i'm pretty much a part of congress as an institution that
9:48 am
they have really not covered themselves in glory i think with the participation in u.s. diplomacy toward iran. my read of what the congress is up to is that they want to appear very, very concerned the very interesting situate about the problem and that's about it. the one saving grace that we may have is that as an institution there cowardly enough to ignore the power granted to them in article 1, section 8 of the constitution which indeed grants them the power to declare war. we used to do that as a country, declare war when the congress decided that what was appropriate. but instead that we refer to lots of handwaving and table county, which reversed i think is probably a good thing. so the congress i think often does some boneheaded things to get its or in the lake of the u.s.-iran diplomacy. but they have not really provided hope or anything constructive i think to diplomatic agenda that the
9:49 am
administration is falling. as for the obama initiatives of, you've got to give her credit. it put its neck out there on the campaign saying it was open to diplomacy, by 2009 gesturing in the direction of diplomacy. but i perceive not too much terrible much interest in spending gobs and gobs of political capital on getting diplomacy with iran up and running in a way that will be fruitful. i can't entirely blame them for the. it's not clear to me that they have enough political capital left, particularly this year, to get things rolling. and we have on those with the goings on at the supreme court they have lots of domestic birds in which they're spending political capital, so i don't envy the position to which the obama administration finds it so. and i think to a course on the other panelists have said, in the diplomatic process that has the hope of producing long-term result would be itself a long-term protected process of meetings after meeting after
9:50 am
meeting, that would be easy to sort of demagogue as the obama administration selling out to the islamic republic. tiny, the campaign commercial is rather right. so i think that's a politically perilous thing for the administration to do, and for a variety of reasons, i will defer to michael gladden on this and hope that he is right. i am not sure that israelis were as well received to president obama's message. again, i remain open to being persuaded that that is right. but i wonder whether it is. so moving on to sort of the structural international obstacles, i'm really indebted to remind me of the insight to one of the panelists on the second panel, nuno monteiro u.s. a forthcoming paper where he mentions this topic. but to start with, the diet is a political science kit you can call, the relationship between
9:51 am
iran on the one and the united states on the other hand, is terrifically imbalance in terms of material power. iran cannot conquer the united states. the united states, if they decided to, could conquer iran. it would be a big mess. i don't support doing so, but in terms of mentoring power there's simply no comparing the two countries. so given that, if you look at things from iran's perspective, any diplomatic deal would involve making lots of substantial security assurances to iran. if you do this, not only will we not, not only will we do something, but we also agree not to do something in the future. so the question becomes how could iran trust assurances provided by a country that has overwhelming power and, indeed, i believe is still a unipolar power in the international system? how do you make credible assurances to relatively weak state, as a unipolar power that if he decided to, could renege
9:52 am
on those assurances at any point. this is a point that i think is not terribly well grasped, or at least i don't think any evidence that isn't very well grasped by the administration, certainly by congress. it is just very difficult, no matter how genuine the intention, to credibly convey it to a country with which, coming from both sides, there have been poisonous relationships for the past 30 odd years. this is i think a very important point to highlight. and president obama in a recent interview with jeffrey goldberg of the atlantic pointed to cases where he thought diplomacy have produced good results in terms of nuclear nonproliferation, and he pointed of course to south africa and then pointed at libya. if you're ayatollah khamenei and you look at the libyan deal and say well, we can get ourselves a libya deal here, what about the? it doesn't look like a very good deal. because again the united states can very easily renege on assurances that were made, if for example, there were another local crackdown, iran is
9:53 am
denuclearizing and the united states decide it is had just about enough of a dictatorial regime, backing down on protesting civilians. so i think in our heads around how to convey credibly security assurances is maybe my sort of sunday punch here in terms of pouring cold water on the prospect for long-term diplomatic deal that works. i want to reiterate just in case someone, perish the thought, would quote me out of context, i favor diplomacy. i favor a very robust diplomatic approach to iran, but i worry again that what might happen can't work and what might work can't happen. so in terms of where we are here, and wrapping up i will offer a couple thoughts about how to prove me wrong. we have this peculiar belief in the united states and when we win concessions that the u.n. security council to do another resolution, sanctioning iran or what have you, that there's a
9:54 am
sort of or else on the other side of that in terms of the people that have signed onto the do. we censure iran for doing this, and it should stop. and in our mind we have an or else at the end of that, or else we will force you to stop it and i think that the rest of the world really doesn't have been or else on the end of the security council resolution, or any other statement. so i think we should sort of get our mind around the. if we decide it's going to be an or else it will be us and possibly a very, very small coalition of willing to coin a phrase, that try to put some teeth into these sanctions, militarily, should it come to the. i think it is particularly odd lots of concerts that particular view about united nations tend to endorse the idea that the security council nations should abide in important ways. i think would probably have to make large, probably prohibitively large concessions at the outset to get iranians to believe that we are serious about diplomacy.
9:55 am
if you look at 1737-70 for some, i think it's probably unlikely that iran agreed to spend out right as those indicate, and i think would probably have to do something in terms of the unilateral sanctions from washington or from europe in order to convince the iranians that we were serious. i also think that's probably a political nonstarter but if you could get them to do something like stop and wrenching to 20% i would be willing to walk back some the things that we're doing, not just a promise not to do anything in addition, but indeed to walk back some the things that we are already doing to try to credibly convince them that we are serious. it would be a political nightmare, or just one other thing that we could do is, particularly if they agree to stop enhancing the trenton facility. i would take that as a sign that we should be willing to walk back some of the things that were already doing. this is not the mainstream point
9:56 am
of view. i have not heard from the administration or from congress and i think would be a political nightmare. there again i think we see the domestic political influences, constraining our ability to operate internationally. if you want diplomacy to work, and if you really think a military option is a terrible idea, you're going to have to really bite the bullet, so to speak, and do some things that you really would rather not do in order to get the train rolling in the first place, and in the second place, realize that this is going to be a long, agonizing process that is going to have lots of setbacks, and may not in the end work. i hope that we get that far, but i fear that we will not. so i think i would just leave it there and then turn the podium back over to field question. thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you all very much.
9:57 am
we left a lot of time for q&a. maybe before i open it up to the audience, do any of you wish to respond to anything that was said by the other panelists? >> let's go to question. >> very good. with that i will throw it open to question. we have a rule here. the rules and a new auditorium are the world and as the old auditorium. which, if you ask a question wait for the mic is also a foot injury, including those watching online. stage remain under affiliation, and frame your question in the form of a question. this is a jeopardy rule. no speeches, please. who was first? right there. >> my name is jane, i am with pd action. you are talking a lot about, our people mentioned the sanctions.
9:58 am
and that that is hurting the people of iran. but no one really talked about whether sanctions even work, and i briefly read a report that they don't, that there was some study that was done that show that they have never worked. so my question on that is, why are we pursuing a policy that doesn't work? it's very harmful. that would be perceived as bowling i think by the people of iran. and you're talking about confidence building measures your that doesn't seem to me to be a confidence building measure. >> okay. thank you. so the question is sanctions by the drug track record. what is different about these sanctions, if anything? >> i think all four of you. barbara first. >> they do work in some cases. we have the south africa example where sanctions did help get rid of the apartheid regime, and that's usually referred to.
9:59 am
we have sanctions because its a substitute for war and as a substitute for diplomacy. people don't want to declare war in this country, and even the congress, even some of the more gung ho neoconservatives are not really anxious to have a war with iran after our expense over the last decade so they have to think of something else. they aren't really ready to make major concessions to the islamic republic, so what do you have? you have sanctions. they've taken on a momentum of their own and this started under the george w. bush administration, our treasury department has become one of the most creative parts of the u.s. government in terms of devising ever more clever ways to destroy the iranian economy. ..
10:00 am
>> we're obviously not good at diplomacy, and we don't want to go to war. [laughter] >> michael? >> sure. i think in a sense we're definitely in a state of conflict with iran, and it's taking place with the sanctions, it's taking place through covert operations inside iran, it's taking place, every pressure short of war. and not the defense sanctions, but the purpose of the sanctions is, basically, to get iran to talk. so you could see the talks that are coming up as one way in which sanctions have succeeded because the question with sanctions is they certainly are causing problems for iran. but the main question is, are they sufficient to get iran to strike a deal with us on the nuclear program.
10:01 am
so the jury is still out on how this policy ends, and once again the fact that we're having these new talks which, um, justin referred to the difficulty of getting forward and getting real concessions. i think that the way at least the west is approaching it is they want to start very slow. and there are actually two plans out there for the diplomacy, one is called the russian plan, the other is the american plan. and interestingly enough, the first step in the russian plan is that the united states would give security guarantees to iran, and in return there would be freezing of sanctions. news bulletin, that's not going to happen. [laughter] i remember back in 2004, 2005 when this whole thing started, i got what's called the nonpaper, and the nonpaper is a diplomatic brief on how to go forward, and the europeans prepared it.
10:02 am
and one chapter was security guarantees. and once the americans got ahold of it, that chapter disappeared. but that is not to say there couldn't be security guarantees at the end of the process. and in terms of it being a political nightmare, going with what you said, this whole thing's a nightmare. we're in a situation that, in a sense, is not going to end well. someone's going to be unhappy. it's going to end in tears in one way or another. but i think in spite of the elections, in night of everything going on -- in spite of everything going on if we can get a tart to this process, you have a situation in iran where barbara spoke about it after the parliamentary elections, there's a possibility for a consensus in iran -- this ises a very polly annish view, by the way -- such that did not exist before the parliamentary elections. because if khamenei has essentially rendered ahmadinejad
10:03 am
ineffective during the elections and if there have been revolutionary guards coming to khamenei and saying, look, we are really having trouble doing business, can't we do something to get out of this, there might be a way in which the iranians would decide if they can get a face-saving solution where they get to keep some enrichment, where they can go forward with what they say is only a civilian program, that that would be a way where they might want to strike a deal, where it might be in their interest. this is a best case she scenari. and in that situation you would move to the things i was talking about, where you would cut the enitchment to -- enrichment to 20%, where it would be shipped out. and if this first meeting is a success, there will be a second meeting, and the second meeting will come very quickly because everybody's afraid of drawing out the process and of iran delaying. and if that happens and there's a second meeting and there is a, um, stepping down from 20% enrichment by iran, um, and they're starting to move towards
10:04 am
a fuel stop and then we would move towards freezing sanctions which is incredibly different because they're mandated by the u.s. congress. speaking of a nightmare, that will be an outright nightmare. but i think the way to sell it would be to say if you're getting concessions from the iranian side, this is the last chance to reach an agreement. and that's the good way to see sanctions. >> can i comment on that? >> please. >> sanctions are a blunt instrument. they do hurt certain u.s. objectives and promote certain u.s. objectives at the same time. in terms of hurting the u.s. objective of democracy in iran, and if that's not the ultimate u.s. objective, it should be. sanctions are hurtful. they do hurt. the iranian middle class, the same people who came out to the streets of tehran and other cities in 2009 to protest against the government, sanctions hurt our allies within iran, and not just iranians within iran, there have been reports that sanctions are hurting the iranian community in
10:05 am
the united states, canada and sweden, and that doesn't help the united states. in terms of promoting u.s. interests, the sanks have -- sanctions have made the cause of iran's nuclear program higher. if iran decides to weaponnize its program, it has to consider even more damaging sanctions. i do think that the sanctions make iran think or rethink its policies quite a bit, and potentially causes fissures within the iranian government where you have revolution guards officers who are involved with the iranian economy be hurt by sanctions and pressure the supreme leader. also, i think sanctions help contain iran. if iran developed a nuclear weapons capability, it would be in a much weaker state. it wouldn't be able to project power in the middle east as well. and sanctions, finally, show other countries who are thinking of violating the
10:06 am
non-proliferation regime that there are costs associated. so if iran decides to go nuclear and saudi arabia thinks, well, we should obtain nuclear weapons, it will look at iran and see all the associated costs. and so in that way sanctions are beneficial. i hate to say it, but there are benefits to sanctions. >> one quick coda to this discussion. there was an interesting article in the post a few weeks ago or a month ago where there was a sort of unnamed u.s. official that was talking about the sanctions and said what is the goal of the sanction. and the quote, i forget the exact quote, but it was something like regime change is the goal of the sanctions. and then people said, whoa, whoa, regime change is the goal of of the sanctions? be well, not regime change, but sort of to cause pain to the government in iran and etc. i think that's clearly what's going on here is that there's an effort to create fear in the iranian government that the domestic political situation might be so upended by the
10:07 am
sanctions that are causing pain across the iranian pollty not just the sort of irgc officials or officials involved with the nuclear program. but you get a lot of bang for the buck out of destabilizing the government. and there was this walkback that came, well, we're not regime changing, we're doing something else. but i think in the main the breadth of these sanctions clearly is designed to cause iran to fear destabilization, and that fear of destabilization in turn to cause iran to come to the table to get some relief to where it doesn't fear destabilization as much. >> thank you. on this end, and then we'll get the other end. mic? >> thank you. media benjamin with the peace group code pink, and talk about the dismal situation in congress, i wonder and particularly logan, i think, why can't we get more republicans that are friends of yours at cato on the libertarian side to
10:08 am
join with some of the progressives in congress like barbara lee that put forward these bills for diplomacy? it seems like we have walter jones and maybe ron paul, but that's about it. so what can with we do to strengthen some alternatives to this call for war in congress? >> yeah. i guess that's targeted at me. i don't know, is the answer. [laughter] there are too few libertarian members of congress in my view, so i will loudly endorse that sentiment. no, i think that, look, if you're looking at it from a congressional standpoint, there are lots of reasons why you would want to sign on to another sanctions bill, and there are lots of reasons why you wouldn't want to sign on to the jones-lee bill, and lots of them are political reasons. so creating countervailing political pressures, i think, is probably the most fruitful thing to do in that regard although it's a tough hill to climb. so -- >> on this side.
10:09 am
>> david isenberg, cato adjunct scholar. this question is addressed to ms. lee and mr. logan. it seems to me that diplomacy, while it has imperfections, is the only alternative. military attacks are a nonstarter for reasons i won't bore people with. but i would ask you to assess, it would seem to constraint on diplomacy restrained by political opposition, and i would ask you for your assessment of how seriously, how much of an impediment is the current domestic political opposition from neoconservatives and other elements to the administration? i note in the news this morning it said that mitt romney is starting to turn to the obama administration and focus its critique on its foreign policy which strikes me a bit like peewee herman challenging mike tyson, but i would appreciate your assessments.
10:10 am
>> barbara? >> sure. well, president obama said something very sensible, i forget whether it was in his -- i think it was actually in his speech to the apec convention where he pointed out that the only way you can actually get a country to not build nuclear weapons is if leadership of that country decides not to build nuclear weapons, that there's no other permanent way to stop nuclear proliferation. i thought that was a really key point. um, so, i mean, he's basically saying that we have sanctions, we have other tools, but, you know, ultimately it's going to have to be a decision of the iranian government. there is no -- he was saying, in effect, there is no military solution to the iranian nuclear program even while he insists that all options remain on the table. so i think that's very useful. but we've seen, certainly, mitt romney and others apart from ron paul beating the drums for an even more aggressive posture toward iran than that of the obama administration. so i think it's going to be very hard to get anything
10:11 am
accomplished before our election in terms of something that would require real u.s. concessions. i think that's just a fact. so the best we can hope for is the to start a process and to keep -- if iranians can simply slow the program at this point, not continue to do more and more provocative things, one of the problems we've had is that the iranians keep sticking a finger in our eye with one announcement after another. it was in january that they announced that they were starting to enrich uranium to 20%, u235 at fordo. and it's lrl crossed israel's red line, let's be honest. this is what israel fears most. so if the iranians can be sensitive enough to u.s. politics which is a big leap, but if they can be and if they can simply restrain themselves so that the next iaea report is not so alarming, i think we'll buy enough time with talks and so on to at least get through our elections. if obama is reelected, i would
10:12 am
hope that he would be able to be much more proactive on this. >> i have a couple quick thoughts on romney. first of all, there was an article in "foreign policy" in the last issue by karl rove that said don't believe all this about the voters not caring about foreign policy, the republican candidates should really go all in on the foreign policy issues of obama. it looked pretty good in 2004, it didn't look so good after that. so there was a lot of discussion about this article, and i think romney is, appears to be taking the advice and to try to get a foreign policy critique going. what's interesting is obama has tried to parry back by saying, look, all these people on the campaign are complaining about what i'm doing, why don't you tell me what you plan to do. do you want to have a war with iran? and i think he's playing and banking on the idea that there's a little bit of an iraq syndrome floating around out there.
10:13 am
voters don't like iran, they certainly don't like the idea of iran having a bomb. but it comes to if i'm elected president, i promise we will have a war with iran, that's a different political calculation. so there's lots of, again, hand waving and table pounding and you're apologizing for america and all of this sort of atmospheric stuff. but what obama appears to want to do is to have the precise policy discussion. to war then? and i think that is how he thinks he can parry back. that's sort of the order of battle as i see it. >> i have two -- couple hands right there, and then i'll get some in the back. it's hard for me to see in the new hayek auditorium because these lights are really bright. >> they are. >> milton hoenig at the international center for terrorism studies. in going for a diplomatic solution, how do you deal with the iea's persistent demand for answers to its questions about the military dimensions of iran's program?
10:14 am
>> michael, can you take that one? >> sure. um, right now the iaea is seeking to get access to parchin where they think in this container which is in the shack that iran may have done, tested the trigger for a nuclear weapon and may have used uranium in doing it. so you have a kind of line in the sand being drawn by the iea. you have a confrontation which could really play big in the june report. that said, i don't think any of this will impact the diplomatic process, and i've been told that by people from several members of the p5+1. and, first of all, it's not new that iran is cooperating with the iaea, not new that they're hiding work the from the iaea. and i think there is a divorce between the diplomatic process and the iaea operation.
10:15 am
so whatever happens unless they happen to discover that iran is actually working on a bomb somewhere, it will not effect the diplomatic process and the effort to get talks going. >> in the middle there. please wait for the mic. >> i'm ray mcgovern from veteran professional intelligence for sanity. >> please speak up, sir. >> okay. i see a kind of surreal aspect to this discussion. there are two elephants that are in the room that are either referred to by your mitches -- euphemisms or not referred to at all. one is the euphemism, domestic political considerations. what is meant by that is the israel lobby and our president's intention to march in lockstep with israel. that's number one. number two are the facts, and this is my question. it is widely recognized not only
10:16 am
by the u.s. intelligence community, but by the israeli intelligence community and by both defense ministers that iran is not working on a nuclear weapon. it's phrased as iran has not yet decided to work on a nuclear weapon. so english tells me that says they're not working on a nuclear weapon. now, we have all in this rhetoric about what we have to stop them from doing, and if they're not working on a nuclear weapon, how do we stop them from not working on a nuclear weapon? the last thing here is the defense minister of israel gave a interview on the 18th of january. he was asked do you agree with the american assessment that iran has not yet decided to do a nuclear weapon? he said, yes. next question. how soon could they get it? he said, it doesn't matter. it doesn't matter because they'd have to throw the iaea out. they've not done that. when they do do that, come back and ask me, and i'll make an assessment.
10:17 am
>> thank you. >> what are we doing here? what's the premise here? they're not working on a -- >> we understand. thank you. >> why do we have to stop them from not working on a nuclear weapon? >> i do -- this is something that i wanted to ask about, barbara, because i think you raised it. um, how significant is it that at the time of the apec convention president obama clarified the objective of u.s. policy is to prevent a weapon as opposed to weapons capability? and how significant is it, also -- again, this points to justin's point -- that the congress' language in their sanctions and other measures is very different? what is really going on here? >> well, first, for the questioner, i don't think obama's marking -- is marching in lockstep with apec, and i think this distinction that he made is really crucial. iran already has a nuclear weapons capability in the sense
10:18 am
that it has scientists who know how to build the bomb, it has enough enriched uranium to make maybe four or five nuclear weapons if it decided to do so. it could make a device, put it in a suitcase and deliver it somehow, perhaps it couldn't put it on a missile yet. so it's a meaningless term now to talk about nuclear weapons capability even though that's the term that the israelis have been throwing around and apec has been throwing around for years and congress continues to throw around in this current resolution. that was the most important thing to me in what obama said at apec. and if you'll notice, netanyahu picked up the same language afterwards and also referred to a nuclear weapon, not to a nuclear weapons capability. so that's the victory in terms of clarity. it means that iran can do a lot of things that it's already doing as long as it doesn't actually build a nuclear weapon, and it doesn't have to face the threat of military action from the united states. >> michael? >> um, the distinction between,
10:19 am
um, the capability and a weapon is absolutely crucial, and it is a big difference between the united states and israel. the concern of the israelis is that iran is developing, iran is really not ready to break out and make a nuclear weapon. they don't want to make one weapon, they would want to make several. and in answer to your question, iran was discovered in 2003 hiding two decades of secret military work, and especially before 2003 a whole range of activities where it begs the question why are they doing these things. and when iran was both unable to answer those questions and the more activities came up, that's when the investigation began. and iran has not cooperated fully with the investigation. so, yes, there is no smoking gun that iran seeks a nuclear weapon, and the united states is, says that iran has not made the decision to make the weapon and that they even may have
10:20 am
stopped weaponization work in 2003. but iran has never owned up to the work they were doing before 2003 in which the iaea feels they were doing after 2003. so there are, i think, legitimate questions about iran's intentions. the capability that they are able to amass is legal under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. the great concern of israel is that they will advance on several fronts with enrichment, with technology for missiles, with technology for possibly weaponnizing, and it is at that point when they've put all their ducks in a row that they would do the so-called breakout, and it would be too late to stop them. so that's the difference. one thing to note about obama, bush -- president bush would always say it is unacceptable for iran to have a nuclear weapon. the obama administration has very deliberately changed that language to say that they are, that they will prevent iran from getting a nuclear weapon. so you have this shifting field where it's hard to define what's
10:21 am
going on, but i think the administration has staked out a position which in a way is more forceful than the bush administration. the israelis are very uncomfortable with the definition of what to do, and we've got to see how it develops. >> [inaudible] >> i think there are very real differences between israel and the united states on the iranian nuclear program. israel is a small country, it's in a very tough neighborhood, it's surrounded by iranian allies including hezbollah, hamas, syria. potentially even one nuclear, iranian nuclear weapon or even iran's capability to produce that is seen by a lot of israelis as an existential threat. there are israelis within israel who don't believe it is an existential threat, so even within israel there are a lot of differences on the iranian nuclear question. but israel's top leadership including prime minister netanyahu and the defense
10:22 am
minister ehud barak have this viewpoint that even a virtual nuclear iran is very dangerous. whereas i would argue all of the united states does not want even an iranian nuclear weapons capability, it is better able to handle that capability. its interests are not as at stake as israeli interests on the issue. and president obama has stated that containment is not his policy, but he's also going for re-election, and policies change after presidents are elected. so there is a possibility even that the united states could move toward a policy of containment toward iran, and i don't think this is something the israelis want. and not just the israelis, but our other allies in the middle east, especially their arab countries of the persian gulf. >> time for two more questions.
10:23 am
on this side i have, i have two folks right there. keep your hand up high there, greg. there you go. >> greg tillman, arms control association. i agree with the assessment of the skill of obama's handling of israeli pressure in march, but it does seem that in the process of doing that he ended up making a very clear promise that if iran moved to acquire nuclear weapons, he would respond with military action. which is, in many essence, a full-throated endorsement of the george w. bush 2002 military doctrine of preventive attack. my question is, how is that heard in tehran? does it make a difference? does this confirm the thought or -- >> can you comment on that -- >> or does it make them think that they really better get organized and move to nuclear weapons as a deterrent? >> one of the arguments is that
10:24 am
we have to present a realistic military option toward iran, that if there's no military threat, that iran would not come to the table. i think, actually, looking at the iranian nuclear program it is motivated by insecurity and fear; fear of the united states, fear of u.s. military capabilities. so i don't think necessarily that the threat of attacking iran's facilities by the united states or israel is necessarily productive. you can argue that that threat actually may compel iran to weaponnize its program in the future. even, i think, sanctions, we don't entirely know if sanctions will have the effect of dissuading iran from weaponnizing. it could get to a point if regime feels that it's in peril, it could see a nuclear weapons capability as a solution to its problems.
10:25 am
so threats when it comes to iran, i think, have a very limited effect. iran is already under the impression that it faces a military threat by the united states and israel. i think reiterating that constantly is not necessarily productive. >> okay. last question. john, do you have a question? >> [inaudible] >> okay. i have time for one more question. right there, sir. sorry. [laughter] >> thank you. [inaudible] from kurdistan regional government's representation to the united states. my question is particularly directed at mr. nader. will these sanctions and further squeeze on iran, what do you see iran doing in the region particularly? and in iraq, specifically, to push back? do you see that iran taking it out on u.s. inside iraq and u.s. not allowing such a thing to happen where iraq becomes a battlefield and a proxy war happens? >> so your question is how would iran react to sanctions regionally? >> correct.
10:26 am
>> iran is reacting to u.s. policies overall in the region not just specifically on sanctions, but we have to look at the entire u.s. policy toward iran. iran is influential in iraq, and it's hoping that the u.s. withdraws from afghanistan without maintaining permanent presence in afghanistan. iran's very much against any sort of status of forces agreement with, between the united states and the afghan government. and it's exerting a lot of o pressure and influence in afghanistan including arming the taliban in a very limited manner. so there are ways iran can exercise its power. there have been reports recently that iran is also helping rebels in yemen, the out si rebels in the north and potentially al-qaeda. and this is just not meant for the united states, it's also a signal to saudi arabia and countries like the uae that are
10:27 am
supporting the u.s. sanctions regime against iran. and, again, looking at sanctions there are drawbacks, and one of the drawbacks is there are things that iran can do in the region to counter u.s. interests when it is faced by sanctions and a military attack. it is, iran still despite the loss of influence, a very powerful actor in the region. the fact that iran has threatened to close the strait of hormuz is in itself an act of deterrence and retaliation. oil prices have gone up, and this is iran's way of saying that if the united states hurts iran's economy, iran can also hurt the u.s. economy. and, of course, it's not on the same scale. iran's economy is being hurt much more. but there are things iran can do to retaliate, and that's why a military option is not really a solution, because a potential conflict in the middle east with
10:28 am
iran would be very messy and could take years to come to an end, basically. >> you want to add anything to that, barbara? >> yeah. i think particularly if assad regime in syria goes down that iraq and afghanistan will both become major battlegrounds between the united states and iran, between saudi arabia and iran. we've already -- iraq is not in a good state. nobody really talks about it, but there's still bombs going off and so on. and iraq is, and afghanistan, are the easiest places, obviously, for iran to play because of their long borders. so i don't -- this is a reason against the military option, and something that we should be aware of as we go forward. >> all right, very good. please join me in thanking our panelists on the first panel. [applause] we're going to take a short break to allow our second panel to come up here. we'll reconvene here at 10:45 sharp, so, please, be in your
10:29 am
seats no later than 10:45. thank you very much. [inaudible conversations] >> so as you heard, a short break in in the forum on u.s. policy towards iran from the cato institute. up next, what to do if diplomacy fails. this break should last about 15 minutes, and we'll rejoin live coverage. right now, though, we'll go back to opening remarks from two panel members at the beginning of this discussion. >> um, when i first was asked to -- the topic here is can
10:30 am
diplomacy work, and when i first was asked to do this which was before the meeting of prime minister netanyahu and president obama in washington and they had asked me to defend the concept that diplomacy could work, i thought this would be a very thankless task. but it is amazing how much things have changed over the past month, in the month of march. and the first development was that the rush to war which seemed to be accelerating ground to a halt. not a screeching halt, but a halt anyway. there's still some screeching about war. when netanyahu met obama. and what happened there is that the president, um, both gave a kind of statement the united states would eventually use force if necessary, but also said there still was time for diplomacy. and the israelis have reluctantly come aboard with that, and the day after the meeting of -- just want to watch
10:31 am
the time -- the day after the meeting of the two leaders katherine austin who is the foreign policy representative the for the european union sent a letter to the iranian negotiator on the nuclear issue to say that she had accepted talks which he had proposed earlier. now, these talks are between six nations -- britain, china, france, germany, the united states and russia -- called the p5+1, and these are the five permanent security council members plus germany, and they are, they have been negotiating with iran since about 2006. and a crisis that began in 2002 when it was revealed that iran had been hiding nuclear work for some two decades. the talks have not gone very well. there have been several sign posts along the way, but not to go through the whole history.
10:32 am
but what brings us up to what's happening now is that in october 2009 there was a meeting at which the two sides agreed to a fuel swap where iran would ship out most of the enriched your rain it had made -- uranium it had made in return for getting fuel for a research reactor in tehran which makes medical isotopes. and the idea behind that and these talks in general is that it would be a confidence-building measure. iran would have shipped out most of its enriched uranium. at the same time, they would have gotten a de facto recognition of continuing their enrichment, and that would set the stage for serious talks. that deal fell apart. then there were two meetings in geneva in december of 2010 and in istanbul in january 2011 at which the two sides tried to relaunch the process. this ended badly. at a meeting in istanbul after
10:33 am
the meeting in geneva where the two sides had free rein to discuss their opinions and the nuclear issue, the iranians had brought out a range of other concerns they have about world peace and about the influence of capitalism in the world, um, the iranians came to the second meeting and instead of negotiating, imposed two conditions which basically killed the process. and they were that all the, that all the sanctions against them would be lifted and that they would have an unequivocal right to enrich uranium. so this prevented any kind of deal in istanbul. and after that pretty much you had a growing, a growing march to war, what can i say? there were concerns that israel was about to, was about to take action. israel regards iran's nuclear program as an existential threat, and that is what was stopped at the beginning of this month. and now we have the talks coming up again. so these talks are not taking
10:34 am
place in a hopeless atmosphere where people are just going through the motions. these talks are actually a chance for a new start after, um, there has been a step back from going to war.éd" so i guess the question to ask is, what is the chance of success at these talks? i think that, certainly, the p5 plus one and certainly the united states are coming into these talks with low expectations. and the success of the talks will probably be if a second round is scheduled. this second round would occur fairly quickly because the idea would be to start moving ahead. but this is not the meeting at which there will be a dramatic breakthrough. this is not the meeting at whether there'll be a fuel swap and a major confidence-building measure. so the main thrust of what's happening is just to start
10:35 am
talking again. but once again, it is in an atmosphere of saying we've stopped the rush to war, let's really see if diplomacy can work. um, in the past there's been, it's been very much a set piece of these talks, and justin said to me that i should come up with a suggestion about how things can be better. my suggestion, which will never happen, is that when they sit down and the talks are scheduled for mid april, we don't know where they're going to be, probably somewhere in switzerland, that when they sit down, i think the p5 plus one should say you know something? let's not really get down to let's have some tea, let's talk to each other, how's your family, what are things like in tehran? because the iranians like this sort of approach. the iranians want an informal kind of talk where everything's laid out on the table at once,
10:36 am
and above all where they're not presented with an ultimatum. and so i think the best thing that the united states could say to the iranians at this meeting is how can we -- tell us how we can help you. we're in this together, let's try to work it out. i don't think that's going to happen. but i do think there is a real determination at least on the american side to make these talks work. so there will be an effort to, um, do things in a way where the iranians can feel that there's a forum for them to talk at. um, another way to measure the success of the talks is if there are bilateral talks between the united states and iran. iran very much wants to talk directly to the united states. iran feels that the united states is the country which is going to deliver the goods. and at the beginning of this process from 2003 to 2006 the europeans were doing most of the negotiating. and the united states was not even present at the table. there are and diplomats told me
10:37 am
that they always felt the iranians were looking over their shoulders to see where were the americans to guarantee the kinds of security guarantees, the kind of delivery of technology that would make a deal work. so i think a key sign of success of this meeting will be if there's a bilateral talk between the iranian representative and between the american representative. as it talks -- as the talks in istanbul and geneva, the last two talks, there were no bilaterals between the americans and the iranians. if we get through this first round and if we get to a second round which would happen fairly quickly, that's where the real difficult things begin. because you want to have a confidence-building measure. now, if this can't be a fuel swap, what would be a smaller sort of confidence-building measure? it might be something called adhering to the additional protocol where iran would agree to wire inspections of their nuclear facilities. it might be iran agreeing to
10:38 am
give early notification when it is constructing new facilities. right now iran will only disclose new facilities six months before they are going to introduce the material. those, believe it or not, are the small confidence-building steps. the larger confidence-building steps -- excuse me. would be iran enriches uranium right now to 3.5% which is the level needed for nuclear reactor. they also started to enrich to 20% because they didn't get fuel for their research reactor, and 20% is very close to the above 90% you need to make a nuclear weapon because you, um, because it's an exponential curve. so it's more iowa rivetmatic. now, the thing is the first really significant confidence-building measure is if they stop enriching to 20 percent and ship out the 20%
10:39 am
they've already made, this would really be a sign that we're in a process that means something. it is a sign the israelis are looking for where then it is a sign that diplomacy is serious. i want to wrap up because i've been asked to. after this would come a larger fuel swap where they would ship out much of their low-enriched your uranium, and at that point i think the p5 plus one would begin to move towards freezing sanctions. if that happens, we would definitely be in a significant process. of course, the chances of that are low, but the bottom line is that there is hope of a serious process which was unforeseen two, three months ago, and let's see how it develops. thank you very much. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> all right: good morning. thank you, cato, for inviting me. um, i basically want to endorse
10:40 am
much of michael's analysis. i think that the race to war has been halted. i think president obama handled bebe netanyahu brilliantly, and he embraced him close and at the same time he basically read him the riot act and said, no, you are not going to start a war now, and you are not going to start a war before my re-election, at least my hope for a re-election. if you look at the remarks that were made at the apec conference and when the two of them met and afterwards, i think this is rather clear. at the same time, we've seen some interesting signals there tehran, and perhaps ali will talk about that a little bit more as well. but not exactly -- well, i mean, what passes for a charm offensive from tehran, i guess, is the best way to put it. um, right after the comments that obama made talking about decrying the loose talk of war and stressing that diplomacy was
10:41 am
his preferred option for dealing with the iranian nuclear program, ayatollah khamenei, the supreme leader, reconfirmed that building nuclear weapons would be a great sin, quote-unquote, and he praised obama which is not something the supreme leader of iran often does for tamping down talks of war. he said such remarks are good and indicate a step out of delusions. he also, at the same time, claimed that the economic sanctions that have been imposed on iran are having absolutely no effect. well, as we all know, the sanctions are having a huge effect, and i think this is another reason why we might actually have a diplomatic option in front of us. for those of you who haven't been following it, these sanctions are unlike any that have been imposed on iran since the 1979 revolution. they're the most draconian, i think, that have been imposed on any government. if you look in terms of the u.n. sanctions combine with the the
10:42 am
american sanctions, european sanctions. iranian banks are, basically, excommunicated now from the international financial system. there are very few banks in if iran that can do any kind of transactions. iran is resorting to barter increasingly. i would refer you to the atlantic council web site, acus.org, where we have a number of papers that our task force has done, and a couple that deal in particular with iran's reliance on china and on barter transactions. hard currency can't change hands, currency can't change hands. so, essentially, iran is sending oil to countries such as india and china, getting a credit and receiving back goods and services from those countries. um, iranian oil production is going down, i think in part because iran realizes it can't sell the oil that it wants and get the money that it wants. it's down to 3.3 million barrels a day. that's down from 3.8 million barrels a day just a few months
10:43 am
ago and 4.1 million barrels a day a year or so ago. this is truly hurting the iranian economy, the real, the currency has dropped in value by about half against the dollar. inflation is up, unemployment is up, and there is a lot of discontent within the country. so what are the other signals we're seeing from iran that it might actually want to deal with the united states and the rest of the p5 plus one? the kinds of things that we follow like hawks if you're interested in iranian internal politics and foreign policy. on march the 5th, the iranian supreme court ordered the retrial of a former u.s. marine, an iranian-american who had been sentenced to death for supposedly spying for the cia. on march 13th the u.s. deported back to iran an arms dealer, an iranian arms dealer who had been caught in a sting operation in the republic of georgia a few years earlier. and in this country it was revealed that our treasury
10:44 am
department has begun an investigation into the former governor of pennsylvania, ed rendell, and several others for taking money to promote an organization called the mujahideen hulk. this is an iranian opposition group that's on the state department's terrorism list that has been trying to get off the terrorism list for years and has been paying very, very well-known former u.s. officials great sums of money to advocate getting off the terrorism list. they have not gotten off the list. there was supposed to be, i think, a march 26th deadline for the state department to rule. that deadline is gone, and i would predict that there will be no decision on this issue certainly before the nuclear talks. and this is another signal to iran because the iranian government hates this organization. it's believed to be responsible for assassinating five iranian scientists over the last few years in cahoots with the mossad. so we have the new talks that
10:45 am
are scheduled, i believe april 13th, although there's some -- april 14th, question about the exact date and the exact venue. and i agree with michael's analysis. i don't think we're going to see any dramatic breakthrough. but what we're looking for is to manage the situation. nobody's going to solve the iranian conundrum overnight. the idea is to cap the program in some way, induce some limits, introduce some greater transparency that will contain the israelis. i think the problem is to contain israel, not so much to contain iran right now that will provide confidence that iran is not rushing toward a nuclear weapon. um, it will also help contain the u.s. congress which -- >> remarks from earlier today at the cato institute in a forum on u.s. policy towards iran. we're going back now live to coverage at the cato institute looking at what to do if diplomacy fails to stop iran's nuclear development. this is just getting underway.
10:46 am
>> second panel on the choices facing the united states and, indeed, the world should diplomacy fail in the medium term and the long term or otherwise to prevent a nuclear or nuclear-rising iran. we have a very diverse panel. we pride ourselves on trying to get people who vigorously disagree civilly but interestingly together, and i think that we'll fulfill that mandate together. as chris did with the first panel, i'm going to just introduce the speakers in the order in which they'll speak and then take a place here in the audience and sit back and watch the fireworks. so to begin with, our first speaker is matthew, an assistant professor of government at georgetown university and the stanton nuclear fellow at the council on foreign relations. he's worked as a strategist in the office of the secretary of defense where he was awarded the office of secretary of defense's award for outstanding achievement on his work on deterring terrorism. he is the author of "exporting
10:47 am
the bomb: technology transfer and the spread of nuclear weapons" for which we had an event last year, if i remember correctly, that was very good and a number of other books including the handbook of national legislatures' global survey, and he's the co-editor, i should say, of "the causes and consequences of nuclear proliferation." his articles have been covered in comparative strategy, you may have heard there was a piece in "foreign affairs" "journal of conflict resolution," and a bunch of "new republic" as well. his commentary has been featured on many broadcast outlets. our second speaker is nuno -- the assistant professor of political science at yale, a research fellow at yale's center for international and area studies and a member of the scientific council of the portuguese international relations institute. his research interests are
10:48 am
theory and security studies including the causes of war and nuclear proliferation. currently, he's working on a book laying out a theory of unipolarity and on a series of topics including the causes of war in a unipolar world and nuclear proliferation, successful military occupations and credible deterrent threats. his research has appeared in international security earlier this year or late last year, i think, um, and international theory and commentaries have been featured in the guardian, foreign affairs, national interest, project syndicate, "usa today," boston globe and on the bbc on the radio. the third speaker today will be on this panel jamie fly who's executive director of the foreign policy initiative here in town. he serve inside the bush administration, the office of secretary of defense from the 2005-2008 and at the national security council 2008-2009. his work addressed issues including the iranian nuclear
10:49 am
program, syria, missile defense, chemical weapons, proliferation finance and other issues. for his work in osd, he received the osd medal for exceptional public service. in addition to his position heading up fpi, he's a member of iiss, the international institute for strategic studies, and his writings appear in commentary, politico, weekly standard, "forbes".com, "usa today," u.s. news, daily caller and national review on mine. be -- online. and last but not least is josh rover in who also has the ill husband rousetous distinction of having spoken at cato before, thanks, josh. he's in the u.s. naval war college and the reviews editor for the journal of strategic studies. he previously taught at holy cross and williams college, and he's the author of an excellent new book, "fixing the facts: national security and the politics of intelligence." he also contributed an essay after proliferation to a book
10:50 am
titled "nuclear strategy in the second nuclear age." he's written articles on intelligence reform, politics and strategy, nuclear proliferation and deterrence, and he completed a stanley kaplan postdoctoral fellowship in american policy at williams college. so that, i think, clearly establishes the bona fides of everybody on the panel to discuss military options, containment options, squared off against a nuclear or nuclearizing iran. so i will turn the podium over to matt. matt? >> well, thank you very much for that introduction, justin. it's a pleasure to be here at cato. as justin said, i was here just about a year ago talking about my last book, and it was in the old auditorium, so it's nice to be here in the new digs. this is really a beautiful auditorium. um, so as justin said, we're here today to talk about iran's
10:51 am
nuclear program, and i think there's wide agreement that iran's rapidly-advancing nuclear program poses perhaps the greatest emerging national security challenge to the united states, and deciding how to deal with it, i think s the most important issue facing the united states government today. and can as i see it, there are only three ways that this issue is going to be resolved. first, we could get some kind of diplomatic settlement with iran, second we could simply acquiesce, or, third, we or israel could take military action designed to prevent iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. now, clearly, the diplomatic settlement would be ideal if we could get it, but i think there's very good reason to believe that we can't. you know, in fact, it's really hard to imagine any overlap between what iran's supreme leader would be willing to agree to and what would simultaneously reassure washington and the international community that iran's nuclear program is no longer a threat. so as we all know, the p5 plus one and iran are returning to
10:52 am
the negotiating table on april 13th, but iran has stated publicly that they're going to be unwilling to even discuss the uranium enrichment program, and a european diplomat when asked about the prospects for settlement said you -- the only hope he could provide was maybe miracles happen. so ifty diplomacy fails, the united states is going to face this very difficult decision between acquiescing to a nuclear-armed iran or taking military action. now a nuclear-armed iran would pose a grey threat to international peace and security. the united states would try to put in place a regime to deal, but there would still be many threats that would be very difficult to address. as other countries sought to acquire nuclear weapons in response, iran itself would become a nuclear supplier transferring your uranium enrict technology to u.s. adversaries around the globe. a nuclear-armed iran would become more adepress i have.
10:53 am
it fears major military action from the united states or israel, but with nuclear weapons it could be emboldened to push harder, it would know it could deter major action, and this would provide a cover for it to step up, support the terrorist and proxy groups, to engage in more course of diplomacy in the region. and if iran is throwing its weight around more in the region, the middle east could be even more crisis-prone. and if you have a nuclear-armed iran and israel, in the future potentially other nuclear-armed states, any o one of three crises could spiral out of control and result in a nuclear exchange. i don't think iran would intentionally launch a suicidal war, but given the multipolar nuclear environment, i think that there are a lot of possibilities for inadvertent nuclear exchange. and given the small size of israel, a nuclear exchange involving israel could very well mean the end of the state of israel. and once iran had the capability of reaching the east coast of the united states which can experts estimate could be in as
10:54 am
little as five years, one of these could result in a nuclear exchange on the east coast of the united states. so these are serious threats that the united states would have to deal with. as long as iran existed as a state, so this could be years, decades or even longer. so as president obama said, a nuclear-armed iran is unacceptable. so that leaves us with one option, the military option. now, the military option is not an attractive one, and there are many downside risks. but it's better than the alternative. a u.s. military strike on iran's key nuclear facilities could almost certainly destroy iran's key nuclear facilities. this would set iran's program back. it's difficult to estimate with any certainty, but i estimate it would set iran's program back somewhere between three and ten years, and this would create a lot of time for something to happen where iran ends up permanently without nuclear weapons. so there's a significant upside to a strike. now, there are also downsides to military action. but i think that these risks are
10:55 am
often exaggerated and aren't quite as severe as many be people believe and that the united states could put in a strategy to mitigate many of these downside risks. so the most obvious cost of military action would be iranian military retaliation, but it's important to understand that iran doesn't have a strong conventional military, so rather it's been developing these asymmetric military options. so iran's retaliatory options after a strike would be to support terrorist and proxy attacks, to launch sal vote of inaccurate ballistic missiles and to cause problems in the persian gulf up to and including possibly closing the strait of hormuz. so that's what iran could do. but then we have to think what would iran do, and i think we have to understand that iran would have its own strategic dilemma after a strike. on one hand, it would want to strike back to save face domestically and to reestablish deterrence internationally. on the other hand, its primary goal is to continue to exist, so it's not going to want to pick a fight with the united states, the one country on earth that could very well tart a conflict
10:56 am
that would lead to the -- start a conflict that would lead to the end of the iranian military, the end of the current theocratic regime. so iran's going to aim for some kind of calibrated response if they strike back. if they don't strike back hard enough, they'll lose face, but if they don't strike back hard enough, they'll lose their heads. i think the united states can put in place a clear deterrent strategy and communicate to iran before, during, after a strike that we're only interested in the key nuclear facilities, we're not interested in overthrowing the rescream. and i think -- regime. and i think by making that message very clear that we can prevent iran from cross ago red line such as closing the strait of hormuz, conducting major terrorist attacks in the united states or using chemical or biological weapons. if they stop short of that, we'd be happy to trade iran's nuclear program for a kind of token retaliation.
10:57 am
um, so in sum, i think if diplomacy and sanctions fail and if united states finds itself choosing between a nuclear-armed iran and a strike -- and i think the point at which we would have to make that decision is if iran kicks out international inspectors, if iran begins enriching above the 20% it's enriching now -- if united states finds itself in that position, i think we should work to build an international coalition, conduct a surgical strike on iran's key nuclear facilities, pull back and ab sort an inevitable round of iranian retaliation and seek to quickly deescalate the crisis. so, again, it's not an attractive option, but it's better than the alternative of living with the dangers of a nuclear-armed iran for decades. so thank you. [applause] >> thank you. um, i will take the opposite
10:58 am
position, as you may imagine. i'm going to talk, want to talk about three things. first is what are the possible end games of all these situations with iran, then what would be the result of not attacking iran and, finally, what would be the results of attacking iran? i think there's a little bit of difference between my view of what the end game would be and matt's view of what the end game may be. i think i agree with him that a settlement, a grand bargain is unlikely, but i don't think the other two options are only strike or acquiesce to a nuclear iran. there's strike, there's acquiesce to a nuclear iran, but there's also persuade the iranians that a lay tent -- latent maintain is also a possible end game. and, in fact, one of the consequences of an attack as i will argue later is that it makes this end game less likely. that is, the more we antagonize
10:59 am
iran on this topic, the less likely it will be that they will be persuaded that the latent capability is sufficient, and so the more likely it will be that they will weaponnize in the end. on the consequences of not attacking iran, consequences not mentioned that are usually mentioned in this context. one is nuclear emboldenment, what they would do if they get nuclear weapons. the second one is a nuclear cascade in the middle east, other states would follow suit in acquiring weapons, and the final one is the likelihood of accidental exchange, so's escalation to the nuclear level in the middle east, and i want to tackle those in turn. the first one, emboldenment, it's important to note this, first of all, that it depends on the, um, weaponization of the iranian nuclear program. that is, emboldenment would happen if -- might happen if iranians actually weaponnized a nuclear capability, but with the latent capability, it's hard to figure out how the iranian regime would feel emboldened
11:00 am
internationally if it doesn't actually pez a weapon. even if it possesses a weapon, the key question to ask, and i haven't seen a good answer to the question is, what are the actions, the iranian actions, the actions the iranians would like to take that we're currently deterring that we would no longer be able to deter if they -- defer if they acquire a nuclear weapon? ..
11:01 am
but if you run insist on weaponizing and then provoke surprises that puts a stake a likely interest of israel and the important interest of the u.s. it is possible that they would suffer the devastating nuclear strike. so i don't think nuclear weapons change the iranian regime's determination to survive and i don't think nuclear weapons changes the fact that iran cannot prevail against an israeli u.s. coalition. so i don't know which of the actions that iran would like to take. now which of those it would take in the future as a result of having nuclear weapons that would in fact create serious trouble for israel and the u.s., while at the same time not risking the survival of the iranian regime. still on this question of emboldenment i would like to note what i think is a general contradiction in matt's argument
11:02 am
which is that if we strike iran's preventively, we can expect the iranian regime to be particularly rational in their response. we can tell them we are only going after the nuclear program, so don't go overboard in your reaction and matt expects them to react with great restraint but once they acquire nuclear weapons there is a magic potion effect in which they become unrestrained of all. so it changes their preferences in a way in which they become a grave threat to international stability, whereas if we attack them now they will actually be kind of okay with it and will take a strike on the crown jewel of their regime without going overboard on their reaction. i think you have to have a one way or the other. you cannot have it both ways and trying to have it, the possibility of having it both ways means that an attack could not be limited because the iranians would retaliate and moss or it's not necessary, so
11:03 am
the iranians are so restrained that they would not retaliate against an attack, they are likely to also be restrained once they possess nuclear weapons. it's unlikely that it's both possible to have a limited strike and a necessary strike. the second i would like to talk about is in terms of consequences of an essentially nuclear iran is the possibility of a nuclear cascade and this is in the middle east. this is of the three effects of not striking iran, the one that is more likely to obtain i think in matt's argument even if you acquire the latent ability and extrapolating. even if iran only has the latent capability it would be likely that the other states in the region would follow suit. the states we are talking about usually egypt, iraq, saudi arabia and turkey, sort of a cascade of proliferation in the middle east. i would like to note a couple of things. first the u.s. has existing
11:04 am
security assurances in the states based on current capabilities without the need to spend more money than we are already spending, that achieve these allies weekly incentives to nuclearized. in fact i would argue looking at the history of the nuclear era, there is no example of a u.s. ally in which the u.s. exerted significant pressure against nuclearization that still went to have an acquired default. the u.s. has been consistently successful in preventing its allies from proliferating. there's the case of pakistan and we can talk about one day. the u.s. was not putting pressure on pakistan not to proliferate and turn a blind eye. egypt and saudi arabia are among the greatest recipients of u.s. military support. turkey is the second-largest military and nato and is under the u.s. formal security umbrella. iraq is a bit more complicated. it will either turn towards iran in which case more nuclearized
11:05 am
in response to iran but against iran it's likely to need u.s. support so it's unlikely in my view that even iranian weaponization would result in a nuclear cascade in the middle east. so the broad record is that the u.s. is consistently successful at preventing u.s. allies from acquiring nuclear weapons. the third that matt makes would result from iranian nuclear acquisition would be the possibility of accidental escalation but as in the case with emboldenment this would require actual weaponization so if the iranians would settle for late nuclear capabilities it would be hard to lead to a crisis because to escalate in the context of a crisis but even if you have one, the argument matt makes is iran and the u.s. and iran and israel lacked the communication channels and the type of assurances that say the u.s. and the soviet union had during the cold war that allowed us to de-escalate the. but i would like to note during
11:06 am
the cold war the cuban missile crisis is before we have robust communication channels with the soviets. it's before the soviets have a long experience at managing a large arsenal. they had a large arsenal for five years at most. it is unclear whether they have retaliation capability and still they backed down, so we have actually, we can use history to make the opposite point but all i would like to argue as there is no historical evidence that would lead you to believe that escalation is a likely event. even in relations with pakistan and india since both went nuclear, we have never seen crisis. we have never seen them escalate to the nuclear level. so now let me talk a little more briefly about what would happen if we attack iran and i have four points to make and which i think differ from what proponents of an attack believe. the first is an attack would be
11:07 am
far more costly than expected. that is, an attack would not be comparable to an attack on syria. this is an analogy that makes no sense. the syrian nuclear program was limited to one facility and we are talking about a couple of weeks of attacks. in fact if you look at even the press you will see that it's an attack that is likely to stretch is really capabilities. it's an attack that is likely to strike -- israel is not a particularly weak country. we are talking about a couple weeks of months of consecutive bombing in that assessment so that is far more costly and far more likely to generate a reaction from iran then i think. the second is that the result of attacking iran and i think i am in agreement with matt, an attack would not end the program. an attack would delay the program. we disagree on the assessments for how many years but i think we agree on the assessment that the program would not be ended.
11:08 am
and in fact that is the historical experience we have. in 1981 we know now from the documents led saddam to redouble his efforts to applied nuclear weapons and he was only ultimately led to drop the program around 1995 as a result of sanctions. so, containment a sanctions regime would be the aftermath of an attack. we would need to continue an effort to persuade iran not to weaponize so an attack is not the endpoint. alas, at the same time an attack would decrease the likelihood that we would be able to assemble the kind of international coalition that would be able to put containment and the containment regime in place. that is, if we attack we can harness to contain iran and therefore less likely that iran would be persuaded to not weaponize its nuclear program where whereas at the same time
11:09 am
it, and this is the third effect, it would be, it's result would be -- by an attack. it's the perception that it requires in a clear capability to defend itself and what is a very complete threat because they have just been attacked so it would be even less likely that we would be able to persuade them not to weaponize. so iranian resolve is actually great already. i don't think, i don't have any doubt that they are pursuing a nuclear weapons capability, not the weapon itself but i think it would be even redouble in terms of resolved if we attack them. the final consequence of an attack is that they likely endgame and i touched on this already, the likely endgame would become weaponization. so it's less likely we would be able to persuade iran to settle for latent capability after an attack. so i conclude by saying just very quickly that i think we should heed the lessons of north
11:10 am
korea nuclearization here, that is the u.s. was gravely concerned with the aftermath of a north korean bomb but we haven't seen emboldenment. we certainly have not seen a nuclear cascade. the u.s. has been able to maintain its robust assurances to japan, south korea preventing a cascade. we haven't seen escalation during the crisis a couple of years ago and we haven't seen any escalation in north korea so i think this would be a better model to look at, a better template to look at this case and the possibility of a strike succeeding. thank you. [applause] >> i want to thank cato for inviting me. i often talk with scholars on a variety of issues so i appreciate the invitation and the willingness and a diverse set of viewpoints on this issue.
11:11 am
i also will say up front i'm in a bit of an odd position because i have been, at least one other panel with matt discussing this issue. i agree with matt on certain aspects of his argument. find myself agreeing with nuno and my other colleague as well in some aspects. i think this is a very important issue that we need to be discussing. i think we need to remember that this this is not something that is just come upon the international scene. this is a problem that has essentially been a slow-motion train wreck unfolding in front of our eyes over more than the last decade. it's been six years of the u.n. security council has been dealing with iran's nuclear file after was referred by the engine national atomic agency and if you look at the previous panel discussed, i think it's fairly clear that in gauge meant, the diplomatic approach is not working. we will see another meeting here in several weeks but i don't have high hopes that much will come of that meeting between the
11:12 am
p5+1 and iranian negotiators. i think sanctions have not had the desired impact. they have not changed the regime's basic calculus about its nuclear prague realm and thus i end up where matt does that we need to seriously consider the military option. i would just say up front, i think one thing we have a range of viewpoints here, but let's not fool ourselves. even worthy of obama administration has staked out its position and i think some people in the q&a got into this, the obama administration has already narrowed its set of options just in its rhetoric. president obama has said very clearly that containment is not his policy and i think it's going to be very difficult for him and i don't think he has an interest in shifting that approach even if it comes to the position that he may need to make probably sometime after re-election if he is reelected and could potentially take the military option. where i differ with matt is that i don't think a limited strike is the answer. and the reason is, this is also
11:13 am
why have concerns about containment, because i think that we are overlooking the fact that to borrow or basically take a phrase from james carville, it's the regime, stupid. it's not just the nuclear issue. it's a broader set of issues and even if we could get to the point of some serious discussion with the current regime in iran, it would be very difficult to take anything seriously that they agree to and believe that we could actually trust them, given their path about their nuclear activities. just to remind everyone, this is a regime that for decades has been killing americans and u.s. allies both directly, most recently the support to malicious and militant iraq and afghanistan. it has long-standing support for terrorist groups like hamas and hezbollah. it has a horrible human rights
11:14 am
record, and especially since the crackdown against the green movement and jena 2009, the number of imprisonment of journalist and human rights defenders and political activist has significantly increase. it also has for years contributed to general instability in the middle east which has impacted global energy markets and undermined u.s. allied interests. so, before it get to the details of matt's argument, i will talk first about why not containment responding to some of the issues that nuno race. i think even if you set aside, and as i will, think you have a debate about the impact on israel's interest about whether iran would actually ever use a nuclear weapon against israel, whether it would transfer nuclear technology and terrorist groups like hezbollah. i will set this issue aside and i think you can have a debate about that but even if you don't care or are moved by those concerns i think alone the
11:15 am
cascade of proliferation that will result, i am not as convinced as nuno is that this could be avoided and that is in large part why president obama has staked out the position against containment that he has. the cases that i think nuno would rely on to argue that we would be successful in persuading states from going on the nuclear path. i find it hard to debate -- basically transfer the case of japan for instance to that of saudi arabia. i would challenge nuno what american leaders going to tell the american people that we should extend their nuclear umbrella and protect riyadh in the same way we protect london or paris. because of the difference in culture and because of of the difference in values and the fundamental factor saudi arabia on the other countries, don't think the american people are going to be ready to take the steps in the treaty or other means to ensure that these countries do not -- i do think we would see a cascade of proliferation.
11:16 am
i do think again and regardless of whether nuclear terrorism would transfer terrorist you would see it emboldened in their attacks against israel and their activities elsewhere around the globe. i do think that also we have to be concerned about the inherent instability of the regime and again even if you don't believe that the regime is irrational, if you believe that the regime would never actually use nuclear weapons, it is likely most analysts believe that this regime is not going to last perhaps even five years given the political opposition, given the broader trends with in the region. who knows who are other actions, who may end up with control of nuclear weapons even if the current regime is considered rational. i think one final concern we need to raise is again, even if it is not a planned move on the part of the iranian government to share nuclear technology all we have to do is look at the case of pakistan. a lot of the current
11:17 am
capabilities we are dealing with in countries seeking nuclear weapons have been significant aided by the it ac khan network about how the government knew or encourage that network but it's something that the basic proliferation of nuclear technology is something we need to be concerned about. is another reason in the north korea case i think is constructive. north korea has been a problem. it has not been an issue that has not had an impact on youth the u.s. or allied security interest. north korea has proliferated nuclear technology. it's been an extensive proliferator of missile technology. these are all things we would need to be concerned about if we had an iranian regime with nuclear weapons. so getting beyond the containment discussion, when you look at the military options it certainly is not a good option. if we were truly serious about taking military action, the time to strike was probably a number
11:18 am
of years ago when the program was much smaller, less spread out and would have been easier to destroy with a limited strike that matt advocates. it also i agree with nuno is a very different program from iraq's program in the 80's were the syrian program for the israelis destroyed just a day, the i read a bloomberg news article about the cs -- sierras report about a variety of workshops for centrifuges and component parts are produced and how they are dispersed and how the united states in israel like we don't know the locations of all of those facilities. so it would be very difficult to take it all in a limited strike. so what i advocate is a more extensive strike. i think of the united states gets the point of actually winning the military option, any u.s. military option is usually not going to be a limited way. it would evolve taking out iran's defense of their
11:19 am
capabilities. would probably go after some of the missile sites that we used to respond. would probably go after some of the revolutionary guard corps naval facilities to help prevent the ability to close the strait of hormuz so its operation is already being carried out and already in the last several weeks as nuno mention. why not examine a target list after after command-and-control elements to go after elements of regime repression that have been used against the iranian people and basically try to create a state for the opposition, perhaps to rise up in a ramped up, more extensive version of what we did in libya and hope that we can help move the country towards some sort of regime change. regime change would obviously be the best if it occurred from within. i think that is the hope of a lot of buzz, but i think the problem is that iran's
11:20 am
political, internal political development timeline and that of its nuclear program are not in sync and i fear we did not have enough time to wait for the iranians to change the regime themselves. so i guess i'll just end by saying i think the downside of containment are clear. the cost of containment are incredibly significant. i think the cost of containment outweigh those of any military strike, but i do think a limited strike has some serious downsides. i think if we go down the path considering military options, we need to remember that it's the regime that is the issue, not just the nuclear program. thanks. [applause] >> thank you very much. i would like to thank cato institute for hosting this event and particularly particularly justin logan for organizing.
11:21 am
secretary panetta said recently that quote there's a strong likelihood israel will strike iran in april, may or june. heery r. on march 30. it's impressive that we are able to organize not only his statements but this conference. well done. if he is right israel might strike and if israel does strike than we have a lot of important question to ask. what would happen next? how might iran respond? would such a strike help or hinder u.s. efforts to deter iran in the future? my bottom line is that deterring iran, even a nuclear iran, is a relatively straightforward proposition. deterring iran after it has been hit with a preemptive or preventive or delaying strike, especially from israel, will make it much, much harder in the future and the reason why it is
11:22 am
a bad idea. a little bit of theory necessary to explain my argument and the nitty-gritty. iran is the latest example of a long-standing problem. that is, how do you deal with a nuclear emerging power? scholars and observers have worried a lot about nuclear power for a number of reasons. they have incomplete and immature security protocols. we are not sure that they can be custodians of the staff. they have uncertain command and control arrangements. new nuclear powers are usually flush with nationalism. achieving the nuclear threshold at a moment of intense nationalism can be a very dangerous thing. and new nuclear powers tend to overestimate the benefits of having a nuclear arsenal. they make the technological breakthrough and they think wow, we can do a lot of things in the world with our newfound nuclear strength. actually they can do that much. nuclear weapons have very little
11:23 am
use beyond deterrence and it takes nuclear power some time to learn that but the learning process can be dangerous. these are reasons why we worry about it. now up until now, the debate about how to deter an emerging nuclear power is focused on the question on whether or not they are rational. the deterrence hearsay in order for deterrence to work you have to face the rational adversary who weighs the cost and benefits and some have argued that the nature of the iranian regime as jamie was saying is such that it doesn't weigh costs and benefits in the way that we weigh costs and benefits, that is motivated by ideology, religious extremism and extraordinary risk. that is, it's not rational and defines terms. i think this is an important question, rationality and i will come back to it. we really want to think about how to deter a country like iran and you have to ask, what exactly are you trying to deter?
11:24 am
what types of actions are we really troubled by? there were four. first we would like to deter a rapid expansion of iran's nuclear program. if iran achieves some modest nuclear arsenal, we would be happy with that but we wouldn't want it to go on a campaign of rapid expansion. that would be destabilizing. that would exacerbate all of the concerns that i have just mentioned. we would be especially concerned if they did overtly. best-case scenario is that they would extend slowly and transparently. that we could probably live with, and if they do it quickly and opaquely, we would be very nervous. the second thing, we would like to deter the transfer of nuclear materials of their technology to third parties. in the case of iran we are particularly concerned with the transfer of nuclear materials to terrorist groups, hezbollah. third, we would like to deter the use of nuclear weapons under
11:25 am
congressional convention. this notion that iran would be somehow emboldened by having nuclear weapons, they would be more likely to take conventional lists because they would be confident we would not intervene. so they would be emboldened either to act out conventionally or to increase their support to proxy. finally, and perhaps most importantly, we would like to deter iran from actually using a nuclear weapon in war. in one sense this is the easiest thing to deter because this is the only kind of action for which we can credibly threaten them with our own nuclear arsenal. nuclear threat against all of the lesser kinds of action simply are not credible. nobody would believe us if we say we are threatening to nuke you if you do something unconventional. it just would not be credible at all but we can credibly respond to a nuclear attack.
11:26 am
on the other hand, i guess some observers worry that iran is simply not rational. they are not motivated by old-fashioned cold war calculations and benefits. in the summer of 2006 for instance, bernard lewis wrote in "the wall street journal," according to his reading of islamic texts, and i will quote here, august 22, 2006 might well be an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of israel and if necessary of the world. he had gone back and he had looked and said wow this might be the day where they decide to test the world and apocalyptic notion. happily it didn't happen. august 23, 2006 but the sense that this regime is not rational continues to linger, as well as the idea that it's insensitive to our deterrent threat.
11:27 am
i think this is wrong. i think that we can deter a nuclear iran. i think we can deter all of the threatening actions that i laid out earlier. it will take time and it will take patience. it will take a lot of hard thought and hard work but it's a relatively straightforward problem. we have done the turns in the past and with an equally bizarre regime and we can do it again today. first we can deter iran from rapidly expanding its base of nuclear capability. some iranian leaders like president mahmoud ahmadinejad have exceeded over-the-top rhetoric but as iranian leaders treat him with disdain, lot of iranian leaders are frankly worried about international prestige and international respect. and if we carefully and continually cross a rapid expansion of the nuclear effort that will lead to international opprobrium, i would -- they might slow down in fact i think it's likely that they will slow down.
11:28 am
second, we can deter transfer through proxy actors. one way that we can do this is by disabusing of our own notion that it can remain anonymous. one thing that people worry about is that iran could quietly and covertly deliver nuclear hardware to hezbollah and that it would be safe as long as it would be done anonymously. we could convince iran that they cannot do this. just think about it. thing through the actual chain of events. if a nuclear blast went off in israel against the united states, who would we immediately look at? without question, without hesitation iran would be number one and pakistan would probably numb -- might be number to cut. we can also indicate to iran that they have we have actually made substantial developments in nuclear forensics. that is the ability to trace fissile material back to its origin. now there is debate among physicists about how far along we are in this process. all i care about is telling iran that we are going at a pretty
11:29 am
steady pace and planting a seed of doubt in their minds, again the notion that they can be anonymous providers. third, we can be confident about deterring use as congressional convention. for a couple of reasons. one, iran's conventional capabilities are pathetic. they have no power projection capabilities of any type. they have a decaying conventional capability. they are reliant on 1970 hardware that they purchased under the regime of the shah. they basically sacrifice spending on the air force because they know they can't keep up. their surface navy is just not very capable at all. iran can cause some problems. they can lash out at little but they can't watch annie's -- launch anything like assisting dimensional operation especially not about israel or the united states so i think we exaggerate the concern. what about the danger that they increase, they increased their
11:30 am
support for proxy actors? i think this concern is overblown. as a lot of observers have pointed out, iran's history with proxy actors has been tepid. when they feel heat from the international community, they pull back from hezbollah. i don't know why that would change just because they had a very small arsenal of nuclear weapons at their disposal. they would still respond for obvious reasons. finally, the united states can portray the use of weapons in war and this is the one case for which we can make a serious and not ambiguous threat of reprisal. now my bottom line is deterrence is not only possible but it's likely and it can succeed. it will get a lot harder if israel launches an attack. will be a lot harder to attack all four kinds of behavior. in the aftermath of a strike on
11:31 am
its nuclear complex, iran will have gigantic incentives to disperse and conceal its program and basically mimic the actions of iraq after 1981. this is what we don't want, more covert and harder to deal with in the future. i will be harder to deter transfer to proxy actors for the same reason. iran may believe that to reduce its of eligibility to better to give the get the stuff to hezbollah. in the aftermath of a strike it will be harder to deter its use as cover, simply because it will be harder to assemble and maintain an international coalition to block iranian expansion. especially among key regional actors. the gulf states -- it will take significant pressure to move away from the united states. finally and most worrisome it will be harder to deter the use of nuclear weapons in war. deterring the use of weapons
11:32 am
will work where two things. it will require per price will and also require assurances. we always forget this. there has to be an assurance attached to the target of the deterrent threat, that if you restrain yourself we are not going to hate you anyway. you will not be targeted as long as you subdue yourself. it will be almost impossible to issue anything like a credible assurance in the wake of a strike. iran would have no reason to believe us and i disagree with matt kroenig on this. iran would also face a serious use it or lose it prop him. is a program they have worked on for literally decades. it's worried it would suddenly lose this program, their crown jewel of its regime, you would have incentive to fire away and crises would be very very unstable. and there, and just to finish with a couple of thoughts, we have been containing iran for a long time.
11:33 am
we will continue to contain iran whether or not our coalition faces publicly. what we do and what we say are not always the same thing. deterrence will also proceed apace. we'll continue to deter iran and this this the suspects a pretty straightforward. but the only thing we can do to undermine the quality of deterrence is to attack now. thank you. [applause] >> thank you offer your contributions. in the interest of fairness mad he left herself a little bit of time and probably has some plate clearing to do but i want to pile on if i can. i will be the imperial moderator here faster it. i wanted to clear, don't remember how you phrased it that during your talk, you didn't necessarily think that it was time to strike iran today but if some future threshold were crossed, it would be. so i wanted to ask the question to both you and jamie. is it your position that we should strike today or gwen at some theoretical point in the
11:34 am
future? particularly to jamie if it's the regime stupid, would you favor bombing it if it had no nuclear program whatsoever? so i think we are going to start over here and then we will mix it up with questions. >> thanks for the question. as i said in my introductory zero marks, i think that if we get to deciding between a strike, we should strike so the question is when you get to that point and as i said, in the opening remarks we are returning to the negotiating table and it would be wonderful if iranian agreed to give up its uranium enrichment program. i would go right out and celebrate and i hope some of you would join me. i don't think that is likely so when did we reach the point of decision? what i say in the foreign affairs article is there a certain thresholds that iran would cross that would indicate that they are clearly dashing toward a nuclear weapon and if we don't act at that point, that
11:35 am
we'll be forbidding our last chance to prevent them from acquiring a nuclear weapon. the first would be to enrich higher levels. right now iran is enriching its iranian -- make uranium at 20% would need to enrich up to 90% so if iran enriches above 20% or 90% i think i would be one red line and if we don't act then iran will have a nuclear weapon. the second would be if iran kicked out international inspectors. inspectors on the ground visiting nuclear facilities about every two weeks writing detailed reports every three weeks or so so we can know that they have some confidence they are not enriching above 20%. if they kick out the inspectors i would be evidence that they were up to no good and that would be another breadline that if they crossed we should take military action. now some other things i think that would cause me, us, concerned so they are things that, let me backup right now. experts estimate if iran made the decision today to enrich to 90% that it could have enough material for its first weapon in about four months but that
11:36 am
timeline is shrinking as iran brings more and more centrifuges on on line and increases its stockpile the 20% low-enriched uranium so experts say by the end of 2012 that timeline will have shrunk to about one month, so i think just this progress, at some point we'll take the military option off the table even if iran does not cross any of those clear red lines. i think there are other things, introducing centrifuges and underground -- that should cause us reason for concern. difficultly there is i think the united states of a technology reaction would do it very differently than israel would. israel has conducted the strikes in the past. i don't think the united states would do that. i think we would advance to make a case under international law to build an international coalition that would take time. i think it's easier to sell these kind of clear, bright red lines than just keeping out inspectors or enriching toward 90% to an international audience.
11:37 am
>> on the question of whether the u.s. should strike now, i think as i said in my remarks, this all would have been much easier and the options would have been much better if this would have been done several years ago so the longer we wait, the more difficult the option becomes. now, having said that, i do think that it's worth seeing what happens in the next round of talks in mid-april, although i don't have a lot of high hopes. i don't think the iranian regime is currently in a situation because internal division where they are going to be willing to accept the most basic offers from the p5+1, but i do think that probably needs to play itself out. i am also all in favor of piling on any additional sanctions, getting towards crippling sanctions as much as possible in the coming months. i too think the obama administration believes that this is an issue for 2013, not
11:38 am
for 2012. i have some fundamental concerns with how they are going about making that assessment. i think the u.s. intelligence community has over learned the lessons of the iraq wmd intelligence debacle, that they are overly cautious in their assessments. i think that this whole notion that the obama administration officials have laid out in the public domain that they are willing to let them essentially get to a nuclear threshold and then just wait for it to make the final political decisions before action would be taken is very dangerous. i don't know the u.s. intelligence community would ever see or know that the supreme leader has given that go ahead and as matt laid out we are getting to the point with iran and the various elements of iran's capabilities where talking has been by some experts accounts a matter of months that it would take if that decision was made. that is just a very dangerous situation to get into regarding our past failures with debian deep programs. the other thing i would say in
11:39 am
conclusion about the israeli strike a my don't think an israeli strike is ideal at all from a u.s. perspective and i do have some concern that if israel feels that they did not have enough support or assurances from visit administrations act alone, the united states will likely get dragon and we will have -- so if it comes down to the fact that israel will take action in the coming months, i would much rather see the united states take action rather than israel as i do think that we are going to be left to deal with a lot of the consequences if israel acts alone. although i think if israel was not an actor or a player in the situation, that we probably could wait a bit longer. i do think that the israeli concerns and their willingness to see iran even get the capacity of nuclear weapons might encourage the u.s. action. >> i want to jump in and address a couple of points that jamie made about the likelihood of a nuclear proliferation cascade.
11:40 am
i was pleased that you agree that we can make an emboldenment and your major concern is with a possible nuclear cascade. there to point to me. one it is it is likely the u.s. would be willing and able but mostly willing to extend to saudi arabia to deter the saudis from acquiring their own nuclear weapons and at this point we don't need to extend a nuclear umbrella. that's not the only type of security issuance we can provide to our allies in order to deter their nuclearization our supplies to the level that we have done in the past with the saudi's work pretty well. this is usually sufficiently reassuring that the umbrellas not denuclearize. you also mentioned the case of north korea, that they are in fact part of the problem and i claim they are. i just don't see any evidence that the north koreans have been emboldened since then so of
11:41 am
course the north koreans are a problem and i don't think iranian regime is -- but the question is have they become emboldened and i don't think so. one last point. is actually striking to realize that, no pun intended on striking, it's actually interesting to realize that the states we fear will nuclear rise in response to an iranian nuclear weapon are states that did not nuclear ice in response to an israeli nuclear weapon and these are states that cannot count on u.s. support against israel but can count on the u.s. support against iran. so they did not nuclear ice against the state that is far more threatening for them then iran, then why would they now? >> we will throw it open to questions. the same preble's apply. please wait for the microphone and please ask your shortest, smartest question among the many that you no doubt have. i think the gentleman on the isle was the first with his hand
11:42 am
up. yes. >> david isenberg to professor quoted. fundamental population strategy in connection between ends and means, your advocacy of a military strike is a means that is pretty clear but your end seems on the fine. using to put it as preening space in the future for something to happen, which doesn't seem a very concrete goal. what is your response to that? >> that is good question. i think actually that the connection between ends and means is pretty clear. there are four nuclear facilities iran is operating that we are trying to give get them to shut down. we are negotiating with them asking them to shut it down and they are unwilling to shut it down. if we bomb those facilities they will be shut down, so that is the end and means got galatian.
11:43 am
if what you are getting out at this point that there is no guarantee that iran will never develop nuclear weapons, that is absolutely right. on the other hand if we sit back while iran builds nuclear weapons we will be guaranteed that they have a nuclear weapon so a strike at a minimum imposes a significant delay and then i think there is a lot of reasons to believe that this delay could become permanent, so iran might give up. most people assume that iran will be back on saturday morning rebuilding the nuclear program. that is possible and i think it's also possible that iran would give up. we have invested decades honored for structure and we have just decided on an international attack him are we really going to go through another decade of rebuilding this expensive nuclear infrastructure only to invite a future attack? maybe they would decide not to. second i think the time is valuable in and of itself and we need to face all these and most people on the panel agreed would emerge from a nuclear-armed iran.
11:44 am
i would much rather face 10 years in next year and then third i think, there's a lot that can happen and that's three to 10 year window so it's possible to buy us time for further diplomacy. it creates space for possible indigenous regime change in the new government government who might have a different nuclear policy to create space for some future conflict that would lead iran to never develop a nuclear weapon and forth in time you think it changes the bargaining space in some ways. i think a strike in a lot of ways it's diplomacy partisan in other ways it makes diplomacy easier. if i were the supreme leader i would be much more willing to trade away a shattered nuclear probe and then one delivering a coveted nuclear weapon. >> the gentleman, yeah, back there.
11:45 am
>> could the united states to restrain israel if israel is determined to abort iraq's nuclear program and if so, could that possibly be used as a bargaining chip in american negotiations with iran? >> can the united states restrain -- >> no and no. [laughter] >> sustained. anyone else here care to get in on it? crickets appear. we will go to the next question. let's go back there. i think i see john mueller. do i see john mueller? yes, i do. >> john mueller from cato and ohio state. i lived long enough to establish a space in various other countries and i would like mad with his background in nuclear proliferation to sort of suggest any kind of parallels. one of the biggest ones is with china which seemed at the time
11:46 am
more dangerous than just about anybody and you know, all around stable as pakistan. and the debate then was about bombing china to stop them from obtaining nuclear weapons. they did get nuclear weapons and what has happened since that time is they have built far fewer then they could. they immediately had a no first use policy and basically don't have much of anything so the question is, what experience in the past makes you think that proliferation will necessarily be dangerous when it has been relatively undangerous so far. >> the question is whether to strangle the baby in the cradle in -- [inaudible] >> it's a difficult question to answer in some ways because it depends on assessment of what would have happened if the united states had struck and how history could have played out differently and we just don't know. it might've been better.
11:47 am
but you know, the other example it as you have often looked at north korea and pakistan and nuno said that we didn't on north korea and there hasn't been that bad. i think i would strongly disagree with that. i think north korea has transferred nuclear technology to syria and possibly to burma and possibly other states. i think north korea has been more aggressive recently and then north korea has only had nuclear weapons for just a few years. we still haven't seen a full range of consequences that would play out with a nuclear-armed north korea. we could still have a nuclear exchange between north korea and other states, and so i think you know well we have been lucky in the past and we haven't had a nuclear exchange, we did come very close a number of times, and they think it's just naïve to think that if we keep playing this movie over and over again more and more countries getting a nuclear weapon in a dangerous
11:48 am
region with military conflict that these weapons will never be used just because they haven't been used for 50 years i think is probably wrong. >> on that point, i disagree. i am struck that we have had this in the 1940s and 1950's and 19 sixties and 1970s. history really didn't set a useful precedent for understanding the dilemma because eventually at some point it is going to iran. that is very fatalistic and i don't think it's right. i think we do have a good track record in how emerging nuclear power state. i will agree that in the first few years, they can be unstable. they simply don't know the limits of their own arsenal but over time, they realize that it's just not that valuable. it really doesn't get you that much coercive leverage in international negotiations or the ability to tell your rivals
11:49 am
or anything. so i'm not willing to top off the danger simply because some hypothetical nightmare scenario might happen in israel. >> one thing i want to pick on -- pickup on with josh, one thing that is overlooked by our colleagues who are arguing in favor of deterrence is, i think you can really only make that argument if the middle east is not go poly-nuclear because i would argue that the sort of deterrence that would be required in this case if you had four or five nuclear powers in the middle east would really be groundbreaking. i just don't think we have been through that sort of situation before. i don't quite know how it would work and how the united states and other countries in the west could really help ensure that there wouldn't be even an accidental escalation. if you look at what is happening right now and the middle east on the conventional side, you really see a proxy, series a
11:50 am
proxy battles going on between iran and countries like saudi arabia throughout the region. currently in syria, the weighing in on the side of the conflict unfolding. so i do not know if you had multiple nuclear powers involved, how traditional deterrence models would actually work in that case. i don't think we want to go down that path and that would be my main concern. >> i think that they would work because they would be fearing extinction. is happening between saudi arabia and iran is sort of a low-grade nasty middling at the edges cold war. they are trying to undermine one another, but the danger is national extinction, then i think there behavior will sober up. there is a clarifying logical distinction and i don't think this is unique to the left and i don't think it's unique to any particular region and i think it would apply in the middle east just as it would anywhere else.
11:51 am
again i just point out all of these hypotheses are based upon a sequence of nightmare scenarios. the first is that iran is not satisfied with a virtual arsenal and i think right now that is pretty much what it is after, that ago full nuclear, the saudi arabia in the face of american security commitments as we don't care, we are going to get a nuclear weapon ourselves is what people worry about. in response to that turkey would also go nuclear and egypt would also go nuclear and there would be this automatic cascade. there a lot of it's in the sentence and i'm very very hesitant in supporting military action. >> just two points. one is a general point and i'm aware of the fact that -- academia so i cannot make any general points but there's a general point that there seems to be two uses of history. you can use history to say the 10 cases went this way so it's more likely that the 11th case will also go this way are you
11:52 am
can say they're 10 cases the went this way but this time it's different. i think the role of the therefore, they should be telling us what it is in in the historical records and the views we have to indicate and all of these cases moving particularly in matt's on scholarly work they indicate that they wouldn't be such a big problem. the second i would like to make is that i agree that the nuclear middle east or nuclear iran is worse than a nonnuclear middle east are a nonnuclear iran but those are not the two scenarios we are contemplating. the two scenarios we are contemplating is whether a strike is a better idea than acquiescing to iranians -- or not. that is where they middle east is better after a strike against iran or whether the middle east is better without the strike against iran with the possibility that iran will go
11:53 am
nuclear. and they think the mechanisms that would derive from a nuclear iran in the middle east would be exponentially greater if we would strike -- strike iran preventively. >> moving to more questions. let's go on the isle of their to the tan, brownish jacket in the blue shirt. >> i'm a graduate student and thank you for taking the time for this today. ms. slavin on the previous panel mentioned that iran had the capability to currently produced for nuclear weapons and i believe you inferred that they don't have, they don't yet have the capability to produce any nuclear weapons yet but they will include that in their first one. as we go forward and this kind of touched on before but what are the chances that israel would really go this alone and
11:54 am
really go at an iranian strike in the face of the u.s. saying that they are absolutely not in line with supporting them? >> worries iran today? how far iran away his iran today and will israel go? well lit, according to the last quarterly report which is actually very interesting in a lot of ways, iran has on the order of 109 kilograms of uranium hexafluoride which has been in rich to 19.75%. if you took another step and enriching that up to 90%, which is how we weapon grade, you're looking at the lower amount of one bomb, about 15 kilograms, so if they took that step, probably somewhere between six months and a year. now i should talk about that one weapon. where the number four comes from is iran is a much larger amount of lower enriched uranium, which they would have to subsequently
11:55 am
go up to 20% in the go up to 90% and that you could use the map to see how they get for weapons out of that large stockpile but that would be tough to do. the other point about weaponization is, if iran wanted to break out quickly, it's not simply a matter of deciding to go to 90%. you would have to be the enrichment of to 90%. you'd have to convert that yap back into metal which is not an easy process. you would have to machine the pit basically for the explosive device and presumably you would want to have that. this is not something, or else it's an idle threat that we have. maybe you do, maybe don't. you have to go through all of these steps just to get a device. that is not something you were going to do between the iaea. that means kicking the inspectors out, leaving the ntt and that would be something that is set up that we would see in our intelligence capabilities
11:56 am
notwithstanding, that would be pretty remarkable. so, iran's behavior up until now seems to me to be a country that wants to be in the scientific place, where they can break out if they so choose but i don't think they have made that choice. they want to have that latent capability. your second question was about, israel and the united states? i'm sorry. >> i will take both of those up in my colleagues every year have embraced a number times as idea that iran is going to stop at a virtual arsenal and we wish that were the case. i don't see any reason to believe that is the case. iran has been very clear that it's two its two primary strategic goals are to continue to exist, which they think that means being able to deter a major u.s. or israeli military
11:57 am
attack in their second goal is their own strategy documents that they published in public has become the most doctrine stayed in the middle east. okay, so my colleagues think that they will stop at this japan model where you have a lot of hq and you have a lot of ability to enrich but i don't think the japan model will deter a u.s. israeli attack. i don't think the japan model makes you the domes dominate state in the region. i think that playing it smart in terms of the way they move forward, they might stop short for a while but i think eventually they're going to weaponize. i think there is very little reason to believe that they are going to stop at this latent capability. in terms of israel's position this is something that maybe didn't come out enough in the top that israeli option in the u.s. option are very different. the major difference being that the united states is much greater capability has much greater ability to inflict lasting damage on iran's nuclear pro--gram so i think on balance actually the israeli military
11:58 am
option and i'm not an advocate of an israeli strike. i'm an advocate of u.s. strike because i think there's greater damage that we can inflict that on balance the benefits outweigh the cost. in terms of of the way israel may be in the problem they face as their is their window for effective action is rapidly closing because they have less devan ability to -- and if iran follows through on the plans for more and more enrichment, israel can use this window for effective action closing so i think it's very likely that in six months or so if we don't get a deal and is real is that and absolute convinced that the united states will take action if necessary later on, which i think is going to be a very hard case to make, that israel will take action so i do think there is a, it's difficult to say, but to put a point on it there's a high profit will be. >> matt covered most of points i was going to make the going back to one of the earlier questions about whether you the united states and prevent israel from
11:59 am
striking in the coming months, i mean part of it is whether the israelis trust this president or a newly-elected republican president to take action, but at least with this administration as much as it looks like this of might be reelected i think it's going to be very difficult at least for the current israeli to have confidence and president barack obama's willingness when all the chips are down to act if the israelis really feel it's necessary. and because they do have this come comments matt referenced, minister offense braude has called the zone of community that they are worried about iran entering because of their limited military capabilities. i do think there's a decent likelihood that they will strike in the coming months but i don't know that this of and do anything more than they have already done in the previous administrations have done to convince the israelis otherwise just because i do think that the israeli assessment which seems similar to ours is ira

99 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on