Obama: What To Do About Iran Nukes?

After years of suspense and suspicion, Iran still denies it is trying to make a nuclear bomb. Analysts foresee the Iranians’ success in a few years at most, but they disagree widely over a likely timetable.

By BARRY SCHWEID, AP Diplomatic Writer

President-elect Obama says Iranian efforts to develop nuclear weapons are unacceptable. At a postelection news conference, Obama said, “We have to mount an international effort to prevent that from happening.”

An Iranian flag flutters next to a ground-to-ground Sajil missile ...
An Iranian flag flutters next to a ground-to-ground Sajil missile before being launched at an undisclosed location. Iran has test fired a new generation of ground-to-ground missile, the semi-official Fars news agency quoted the defence minister as saying.(AFP/null)

Senior diplomats from the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany are meeting Thursday in Paris to discuss efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear program with sanctions, but Russian and Chinese reluctance has stymied efforts for a unified stance.

In dealing with Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Obama faces questions that include whether to keep a U.S. military threat on the table, whether to temper or increase economic sanctions on Tehran and whether to offer economic and diplomatic concessions to Iran, directly or indirectly, in exchange for a verifiable suspension of suspicious nuclear activity.

Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington said in a report this month that Iran now has a technology base to make nuclear weapons, limited only by its current level of uranium enrichment.

“The worst case for a nuclear device is 2009, but it could well be 2011-2015 before Iran gets there,” Cordesman said in an interview Tuesday. He added: “The critical issue is when Iran could have an effective nuclear-armed missile force. That could easily take two to three years longer.”

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