Jaques Hyman, “eminent” nuclear weapons expert, returns to Foreign Affairs with his update of an article that appeared nearly a year ago. According to the scholar in his sequel article, Iran Is Still Botching the Bomb, If only the US and Israel would just leave the ayatollahs alone, Iran would no more likely achieve the bomb than, say, North Korea (who apparently has the bomb) or Iraq (who was by estimates less than a year from weaponization before Israel destroyed the program); or India or Pakistan, or… One wonders not where Hyman gets his facts, but why an editor would actually publish his conclusions?  

Why indeed does Foreign Affairs persist in highlighting “scholars” who promote nuclear proliferation under the guise of being moderate? On the other hand perhaps showcasing their writings is not so confusing as first appears. From the record, these writers are trailing government policy regarding Iran’s determined and public pursuit of the bomb. And while American policy-makers at moments produce bellicose sounds, in action America has pursued a policy of appeasement when push came to shove, a policy that arrived in the region soon after the G.W. Bush Administration deployed troops to Iraq. In fact the US seems no less confused how to respond to Iranian defiance and provocation than to its erstwhile oriental ally,North Korea. 

Jaques Hymans’ earlier article, Botching the Bomb, Why Nuclear Weapons Programs Often Fail on Their Own — and Why Iran’s Might Too, recommended against interfering with Iran’s weapons program since, the author asserts, various factors mitigate against success anyway. Hyman provides North Korea and Sadam’s Iraq as examples of instances where sanctions fail to impact the decision to begin with (his single verifiable “fact” with North Korea and Iran excellent examples) and in the case of Iraq, political authoritarianism suppressed the creativity of the scientific base, forced unachievable deadlines which only led to confusion and delay. And so Hyman arrived at his conclusion that Second and Third World countries are unlikely to succeed anyway, and, in his caveat, “Iran Might, Too.” 

According to authoritative reports the United States is not exactly ahead of the intelligence curve regarding Iran’s nuclear program, as the serial 2007/2011 National Intelligence Estimates on Iran amply demonstrate. If the mullah’s are half as adept at managing their scientists as they have demonstrated in managing negotiations with the United States then they may actually have, as some reports suggest, already tested a nuclear device in North Korea. 

I fear Hyman may be overindulging in logic-twisting to make his point. Clearly none of us has raw intelligence on which to base a determination (not sure I would rely on US intel anyway since at best it is wrong, and at worst feeding a White House need). But from all available evidence, much of it surrounding Obama’s apparent policy confusion following four years of negotiating failure, that Iran is far closer that not to weapon’s breakout. And that, despite other professional and university-borrowed “policy advisers” insisting such could not happen, will more than likely result in a nuclear arms race in one of the most unstable regions in the world currently in the throes of the Islamist Spring. 

I wonder if our brave Jaques Hymans, comfortably 11,000 miles distant would be so bold in his optimistic assertions if nearby Chile, or Venezuela were as bellicose and apparently irrational as Iranian leaders, and were burying atomic facilities deep within mountains while thundering determination to wipe Imperialist California from the face of the earth. Any takers?