Monday, the Institute for Science and International Security’s president, David Albright, a proliferation expert who often represents thinking in US security and intelligence agencies, presented a 154-page report in Washington titled “Strategy for US Nonproliferation in the Changing Middle East” He was one of the co-chairs of this project which once again shifted all the way to mid-2014 the key timeline for Iran to be able “to produce enough weapon-grade uranium for one or bombs without detection by the West.”
President Barack Obama is obviously preparing for his second term in office a policy that lines up his Middle East unconventional weapons ducks – Syrian chemical and Iranian nuclear – under the same revised estimate. Contrary to previous official US statements, Albright now establishes that US intelligence is incapable of pinning down the moment when Iran starts assembling a nuclear bomb, any more than it can detect the Syrian order to embark on chemical warfare.
Therefore, a preemptive operation is out and people must get ready to wake up one morning to find Iran has carried out its first nuclear test, in the same way as they must expect to be surprised by Bashar Assad’s launch of a chemical attack. Only then, may Washington and Jerusalem begin wondering what to do.
But to stave off that moment, Obama still hopes the secret negotiations he initiated with Iran last month plus stiff sanctions (so for ineffective for slowing down Iran’s nuclear progress) will do the trick of holding Tehran back from building a bomb. Failing this result, the Albright report provides him – and Iran – with another eighteen months’ grace.