tv Book Discussion on A Time to Attack CSPAN August 13, 2014 9:27pm-10:43pm EDT
they can agree upon and then after a rain on the principle there would be a transitional time. the refugees come back. billions of dollars for investment for humanitarian affairs. resettling the refugees in cerium and then go to a free election. make sure of that this is a reelection. then then whomever the syrian select, everyone will respect. >> thank you for that question penney's it enables us to bring the argument back to the united nations. as i told you before, i am going to keep an ear to chat
with those of you are unable to get your questions asked. anchorage you to buy books. did you find more books? excellent and i urge you to read it. it is an excellent book. i want to thank him for being such a wonderful guests tonight and all of you for asking questions. [applause] >> thursday night book tv in prime time featuring but fares and festivals. on feminism from the los angeles times festival books at nine from 2014 freedom fest they debate american foreign policy. at 1010 name his childhood in miami. the top facebook.com/booktv book expo america. and later at 10:30 p.m., the
chicago tribune printer's row led faced. her book about vietnam. book tv in prime-time of this week at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span2 pitbull. >> on that next washington journal foreign policy and the so-called obama doctrine the foreign-policy initiative. we will also be joined by luke was yeah, investigative reporter for the washington examine it to focus on a recent series of articles on congressional incumbency. washington journal as live on c-span every day at 7:00 a.m. eastern.
he spoke about his broken "a time to attack: the looming iranian nuclera threat" at the world affairs council in washington d.c. this is an hour and 15 minutes. >> good evening. i am the international affairs program director for the world affairs council in washington d.c. on behalf of the council i will commute to this event 2013 an accord was signed in geneva switzerland between the members of the u.n. security council, germany, and iran, a preliminary grim which would set the path from more comprehensive deal
on the iranian nuclear program and ambitions. this came at a time when there was little hope for a revolution to the crisis. aside seemed entranced and their respective positions. however, diplomacy and negotiation conventional wisdom said with the best ways to resolve the crisis. as the alternative a military strike would be catastrophic in the six months one sense both sides have taken steps to demonstrate their commitment to the preliminary deal and to reach a new one in the future. iran has reduced or halted some of its uranium stocks and agree to allow international inspectors to its facilities. the signatories have looked at the sanctions which have crippled the iranian economy the current negotiations by continual exercise in trust and the parties involved.
trust that the signatories will keep their word. given their endeavors nature what happens if these talks fail to reduce the comprehensive agreement required. again, many have ruled out military action and see it as bad if not worse than iranian detainees. what are the alternatives to the policy? the seemingly endless stalemate that has existed since november. matthew chronic -- matthew kroenig, author of "a time to attack: the looming iranian nuclera threat" challenges the assumption that a military strike is out of the question as well as some other commonly held policy was a related suzie iran nuclear program. military action, he argues, should not be regarded as an option. matthew kroenig is a nuclear proliferation specialist, internationally recognized authority on the iranian
nuclear program. his work as a researcher and teacher at various universities in the united states. before accepting a council on foreign relations in 2010. through the and became an adviser on iranian policy for the office of the department of the secretary of defense of the pentagon in 2011 to a nuclear security fellow his previous book was published in 2010, and his articles appeared no "washington post", the national interest, and foreign policy. most notable is his february 2012 article on foreign affairs which became the basis for his current about. matthew is an associate professor at the international field chair in the department of government at georgetown university and an non-residents senior fellow at the center of international security at the lead to council. please join me in welcoming
matthew kroenig. [applause] [applause] >> well, thank you very much for that introduction, stephanie. it is a pleasure to be back here. and to be here tonight talking about my new book, it's time to -- "a time to attack: the looming iranian nuclera threat." before i talk about what the book is about what like to talk a little bit about what the book is not. the book does not argue the we should take immediate military action to read the book does not argue that dodger action is our best option. it does not argue that it should be our first option. some people see the title and jump to conclusions. rather, argue we should solve this problem through diplomacy if all possible, and there are no experts who disagree with this position. everyone believes that we should solve the problem through diplomacy. no one is saying we should take immediate action. no one is saying we should just give up and acquiesce.
since there is so much agreement on that question it is not really an interesting one. the more interesting question, and i think from a foreign policy perspective the more important question is what happens if diplomacy fails. diplomacy fails to stop iran from building nuclear weapons are we prepared to live with a nuclear-armed iran, the threat that would pose for decades to come. if not, are we prepared to take military action to stop iran from building of their weapons. the argument of my bark in the argument i have been making for several years as we should try to solve this diplomacy but if diplomacy fails should be prepared to take limited military strikes on iranian key nuclear facilities. while it is a bad option in many ways, it is less pat and acquiescing to an unclear aren't iran and the threat posed by that ford tickets to come. the argument is to sense -- essentially if diplomacy fails there will come a time to attack. the second thing the book is not is controversial.
at least in my view this argument is not controversial. rather, it presents a challenge of. president obama and other administration officials have said several times that a nuclear-armed iran is unacceptable and the unisys will do whatever it takes. so i don't believe the argument at this plan is controversial. there was a point when it was. stephanie mentioned, in 2010i worked as an ambassador @booktv adviser. i for started to come to this conclusion. and as stephanie also mentioned, reuter article in foreign affairs run made this argument public to the first time. it was controversial because the u.s. government and obama administration had taken a public stand on this issue and you had many prominent analysts arguing that if diplomacy fails we should simply learn to live with it and to deter and contain it just like we do the soviet union during the
cold war. so i wrote my foreign affairs article. many people disagree strongly with me. opinion pieces in public debates including a public debate here in washington d.c. but a few weeks later president obama came to my rescue committee in march 2012 president obama gave an interview where he laid out to prevent iran from acquiring nuclear weapons in an apparent iran was unacceptable. policy was not only to contain but that it was impossible. and nuclear-armed iran cannot be contained in previous so some people dismiss this as political rhetoric. trying to look tough. yet others question whether obama would really be willing to do it, but his officials, his top official at the white house on at least policy for the first few years, his top official of the white house for the
first few years of the administration doesn't matter of factly that if it comes to that point the president will be willing to use force. ' them in the book. so over the past few years or so i think the establishment position on this question has been a near 180-degree turn and has shifted so much that now those who suggest we can live and a pair aren't iran are the ones are dismissed as extremists. rand paul recently got himself a political hot water for suggestion maturing in and nuclear-armed iran should be on the table as an option as i see it, the foreign-policy establishment is caught up of the argument i have been making for several years. what like to think that my work and my arguments have played at least some part so in some not arguing that military option should be a first option but a last resort if necessary. and i don't see this as controversial book presenting american state
approach for dealing with the problem. that is enough about the book is not. what is the book about? well, in the back of the book there is an endorsement from the ambassador. i admire him a lot. one of the things he says on the back of the book is that this is the most thorough examination of the issues involved in assessing the irani in a clear challenge to. that endorsement means a lot because it was what i was trying to do. as i was checking with the issue much right to write it for everyone who was interested in this issue regardless of what you thought the best way for addressing the nuclear challenges, if you came in with an idea of what the best ways to address it.
providing a guide to the general public and the policymakers, anyone who wants to learn more of the policy options available and addressing the issue put it. what it will mean for the future. so what would like to do tonight is take a little bit of time to talk about each of those things. first on this issue as many of you may know, the nuclear program in iran began with an unclear collaboration agreement with the united states in the 1950's under a peace agreement. the united states put up a nuclear research reactor. throughout the 1960's and 70's the united states was negotiating with the shah and his government to help iran develop the nuclear energy program. many people look back and say the united states is inconsistent if not downright hypocritical in
its approach to mass proliferation because it was willing to help the shot is a clear program back and calling to help them acquire nuclear weapons. so it was good enough for him but not for. the united states has changed his position. but what i argue in the book is the united states has been remarkably consistent to its approach. our approach has always been to encourage the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, new panera technology but to resist a military application. that was our policy with the shot and is our policy today with iran and really are willing to have him to outline to let them have possible technology but don't want them to build a clear weapons. cities possible nuclear discussions. they came to an abrupt end. marine korean domestic politics credit and their relation with the united states.
possible the clear collaborations with other western powers. those were torn up. at the beginning the new leaders were not interested in nuclear technology. the first supreme leader ayatollah khamenei says acquiring nuclear weapons was against the tenets of islam, but he would change his mind in the 1980's iran had a devastating war with its neighbor, iraq, saddam hussein's iraq. and in that were set on the same used chemical weapons many times against iranian forces. so at the end of the 1980's as the war was coming to an end to the supreme leader chased his mind. and in a letter to supporters explaining his decision to sign a cease-fire with pseudomonas in something he did not want to do, drinking from the poisoned chalice. so better signing a ceasefire with his bitter enemy. but in this letter to his supporters he said that the military position was
hopeless. no alternative but to afford to resuming the war with atomic weapons that will be the necessity of war at that time. this is 1988. explicit interest from the top leader in iran in developing nuclear weapons. so at that time the representatives from iran began meeting with the pakistan a nuclear scientist you may have read about in that news about 15 years ago. transferred essentially for the atomic bomb kits. toronto libya, north korea. ..
so these weren't the kind of peaceful technologies innocent technologies the united states had provided like research reactors. these were tailor-made for making material or nuclear weapons. so at this point the iranian nuclear crisis began and we have been dealing with it ever since for the past 12 years. after talking about the history of the program and going through and talking about the election of president were hahne in the interim deals struck in november that stephanie talked about i talk about where we stand today. how close is i ran to having nuclear weapons and does i ran want nuclear weapons? something i teach my undergraduates at georgetown university in order to nuclear proliferation to happen you have
the supply-side and demand-side and those things have become together. on the supply-side the country must have the ability to build nuclear weapons and on the demand the will to produce them. in the book i talk about the supply and demand. first let's talk about the supply how close is i ran having a nuclear weapons capability. weapons-grade fissile material to create a nuclear device to feel it. second i ran has to be able to reform in explosive device a nuclear warhead and two delivered through ballistic missiles submarine launched missiles are the platforms used. some people look at the timeline and those three things and say we have years to solve those problems but that's misleading because really all that matters is the first stage. the reason that is all that
matters is because right now the united states the international community if necessary to take military action could destroy those nuclear facilities to prevent i ran from producing weapons grade for some material that once i ran gets the material became sober and i ran can move the material anywhere. we wouldn't know where it is. they could be on the reach of our best bunker-busting weapons. if we are serious about keeping all options on the table and whatever it takes to stop i ran are real red line has to beat the production of one bombs worth of fissile material. you might hear in public discussions i ran is two months away or six months away. how long would it take? right now the best estimates after the interim deal and after i ran put these in place as part of interim deal the bus
estimates are that of the supreme leader made the decision right now to -- to its first nuclear weapon it would take roughly two or three months. now if we get comprehensive nuclear deal the comprehensive deal would reduce iran's capabilities and extend the timeline but not by much. in short on the supply-side i ran is almost there. i ran is close to have and the ability to produce nuclear weapons. what about on the demand-side? does i ran want nuclear weapons? we often hear in public debates we often hear reports from the media that the international community fears i ran is trying to build nuclear weapons but it claims is only interested in a peaceful program. it's told as a key said she said story so what i do in the book
you say let's treat this as a social scientist on i'm a political scientist and we have two hypotheses. one that iran wants nuclear energy and to top iran wants nuclear power and let's look at the evidence and see what the evidence supports which hypothesis is most consistent with the evidence. so i go through and look at the evidence and what i show his there are 14 reasons, 14 things iran is doing that makes no sense for energy program and really only makes sense to build nuclear weapons. this makes sense given iran's strategic goals. it says its goals are to first continue to for this regime to continue to exist to protect the regime and second he wants to deter foreign attack to be able to deter an attack from israel or the united states and third iran's leaders say they want iran to be the most dominant state in the middle east. so those are your goals acquiring nuclear weapons make sense. it allows you to deter a nuclear
threat and acquiring nuclear weapons hoped to become the most dominant state in the middle east. having a few nuclear facilities don't help you to do those things. in short i believe iran's leaders want nuclear weapons and they are close to having them. so we have a problem. so what are the various options we have for addressing the problem? in the book i go through all of the options and i see three options as the most viable. first diplomacy, second deterring and containing a nuclear iran or taking nuclear action. i have a chapter on what i call the nonstarters the options and sometimes people put forward that really won't work. some people look at the prail real options and say diplomacy might not work but the other two options of military action and deterrence entertainment seem bad so there has to be some other way. what are the other ways that people have suggested?
some say we can stop iran's program through covert action and maybe continue to put up cyberattacks and sabotage their facilities and assassinations of iranian nuclear scientists. maybe we can just keep doing stuff like that. the international community can do stuff like that. maybe that will stop iran. what i shown the book is these mysterious activities and accidents have been happening to iran's nuclear program for years but every three months if you look at the iea reports every three months iran's capabilities continue to increase. despite all the stuff that has been thrown out there their program advances. i think it's possible it would advance more precipitously that it shows on its own covert action will not -- second some people argue maybe we can have a japan model as an option. the japan model option is that like japan may be iran could have been advanced nuclear capability essentially have everything that needs to build
nuclear weapons at that wanted to to become a screwdrivers turn or two away but iran won't do it and iran won't turn the final two screws and we would just live with it. i argue that's not a serious option because there's really no reason to believe iran would stop short. once iran puts a screwdriver to away want to set the point where the west can no longer physically stop if they think there's no reason to believe iran would refrain from building nuclear weapons. the japan model quickly would become the north korea model. and third what about regime change? some argue regime change is an option and usually people are talking about george w. bush regime change where we take the country but rather with the government help and maybe there'll be some kind of new revolution in iran and maybe some new government will come into power that will be more willing to deal with us and we'll give up the nuclear program. i argue that would be nice if we could get is that there's really no sign this government is going
to fall anytime soon in the nuclear clock is ticking faster than the regime change clock. we will have to make difficult decisions on how to deal with the nuclear program before a new government comes to power. having dismissed the nonstarters again to this year's options in the first is diplomacy. as i said at the outset if we could solve this diplomatically that would be her best best option and abet the longest chapter in the book is on diplomacy so again contrary to this idea that some people jump to that i give short shrift to diplomacy or the military option is the best option. so i talk about the history of negotiations with iran from 2002 up until the interim deal. i talk about the various designs a possible conference of deals. i talk about the ideal deal in which iran would have no enrichment capability whatsoever which would be the best deal from the west point from the west point of you and i talk about this limited enrichment deal which is what seems we are currently pursuing. we talk about advantages and
some of the disadvantages of them. i think there are real disadvantages that leaves iran six months away from iran's nuclear breakout capability. i also talk about diplomatic plan b because of this round of negotiations break stanley wouldn't have to resort immediately to military force. it would depend on iran's behavior after that. if iran dashed immediately to build nuclear weapons if we would have two to three months as as i talked about before but it's also possible and perhaps more likely that iran instead of dashing to a nuclear weapon would go back to the approach it was pursuing last summer before rohan he was elected slowly building up that -- of that capability increasing its stockpiles so this would slowly shrink that time in which case we would have a year or so before we had to take military action. i talk about diplomatic plan where we could engage in
diplomacy to get iran back to the table 1 more time and try one last time to solve it diplomatically. i also argued in a chapter that we need to be realistic. we all hoped diplomacy will work but it might not. president obama himself has said there is quote the chance of a conference of deal is quote no better than 50/50. his former wmd adviser gary seymour were mentioned or puts the chances are closer to zero and so there has been some optimism expressed in recent weeks that they're still a sizable chance we won't get a comprehensive deal. moreover even if we get a conference of deal that would necessarily solve a problem. it leaves iran six months away from a nuclear weapons capability. if you get this deal declared an end to the iranian crisis people will stop worrying about iran and economic pressure will be lifted trade blows them world leaders will focus on other issues and i think in that environment it would be tempting for iran to cheat on the agreement potentially build back
up its capabilities and dare the international community to try to respond. after all it took us 10 years to build a sanctions regime we currently have in place. i worked a sample -- dismantle that would be hard to resemble reassemble that. even if we get a conference of deal i think there's a reasonable chance iran would try to sneak out or at some point attempt to build a nuclear weapon. if diplomacy doesn't work because we can't get a conference of deal or we get a conference of deal but it breaks down what happens next? this gets to be what is worse question. one option would be to simply give up and acquiesce to a nuclear-armed iran that a nuclear-armed iran almost everyone agrees it would pose a grave threat to peace and security. first i think it would lead to the further proliferation of nuclear weapons in the middle east and we shouldn't exaggerate this. i don't think every country in the region would have nuclear weapons but over the course of
10 or 20 years or so at least one or two other countries would acquire nuclear weapons in response. saudi arabia, and maybe egypt maybe turkey so somebody might be saying one or two countries are 10 -- and 28 years but cold comfort if we are in a nuclear crisis. after all i hope to be around in 10 or 20 years from now and i think many of you do too as well. i also think it would lead to proliferation around the world. i think iran would be at risk of becoming a nuclear supplier and in my first book a book that stephanie mention at the beginning called exporting the bomb systematic analysis of why countries have exported in the past and to all the analysis suggests iran would be at risk of doing that potentially transferring enrichment technology to other countries like latin america and asia leading to further proliferation of nuclear weapons around the world that way and in this
environment when there is proliferation in the region proliferation around the world i think the global nonproliferation regime or bradley would be weakened. countries would see the great powers united states wasn't serious about enforcing nonproliferation. i think the regime could collapse and lead to widespread proliferation. second i think iran would be emboldened and we become more aggressive in its foreign policy. we know iran restrains its iran restrains his foreign policy because it fears major military retaliation from israel or the united states but if it had nuclear weapons that could feel emboldened to push harder. it could deter retaliation through the threat of nuclear retaliation took a step up its support to terrorists proxy groups and gain a more aggressive course in the region to achieve its goal of becoming the most dominant state in the middle east which is says it wants to do. in the scenario you can imagine the middle east becoming an even more crisis prone region and in a crisis from region with a
nuclear-armed united states and other potential nuclear-armed states we would have nuclear crises every few years and the potential for nuclear war. i don't think iran's leaders are suicidal. i don't think they're going to wake up one day and say today is a good day for nuclear war but i do think iran will have geopolitical conflicts of interest with other states with nuclear-armed states. they will get into high-stakes crises like the united states and soviet union did during the cold war. think of berlin and the cuban missile crisis. there's a risk of things spinning out of control. some people look back at the cold war and say nuclear deterrence works. i look back and think we were incredibly lucky. if there's an arms race in the least i think that would be the place where there would be danger for nuclear exchange. nuclear exchange in the region could well mean the end of the state of israel. it's a very small state. i think israel's state aren't exaggerating and once iran has
ballistic missiles which could potentially result in a nuclear attack on the u.s. homeland. so a lot of threats posed by nuclear-armed iran. we could put in place a strategy to deal with it a deterrence and containment strategy led to put in place against the soviet union during the cold war that this would require major increase of u.s. political and military commitments to the middle east. it likely requires signing defense agreements with their allies in the region signing formal treaties with saudi arabia and other gulf states and perhaps with israel. let's call a spade a spade. this is essentially done is it's promising to fight a nuclear war on saudi arabia's behalf and israel's behalf. during the cold war people asked what the united states be willing to trade new york for paris? would we be willing to bite a nuclear war if france were
attacked? this would mean people would be asking what the united states be willing to trade new york for riyadh and five nuclear war that risks new york is for riyadh is attacked? this is a threat to increase the credibility of the threat and we would do things we did during the cold war. we went forward-deployed forces in the region and nuclear weapons to make it very clear to iran that any attack would potentially result in a nuclear retaliation. we would likely have to help israel develop secure strike capabilities. one of the risks of nuclear war would come about because it's likely both iran and israel might think they have for strike advantages. helping iran launch hard on ballistic missile cycles to make sure they are survivable so this would be a costly strategy requiring major commitments and it's not like iran would have
nuclear weapons for one day. this is a strategy that would need to remain in place for decades as long as iran had nuclear weapons and was hostile to united states. i think even with that strategy we couldn't deal with many threats posed by a nuclear-armed iran. i think if the containment strategy we could deter iran from starting a nuclear war. i think we could deter them from purposely transferring to terrorist groups but i think many of the threats we couldn't deal with. i think it's likely iran would transfer sensitive technology and would we be willing to fight a nuclear war with iran because enrichment technology. iran's leaders don't understand that. we couldn't deter iran from being emboldened. and by definition we can't deter inadvertent nuclear war and the high-stakes crisis. president bush and president obama didn't agree on a lot in
foreign policy but they both agreed a nuclear-armed iran is unacceptable. if that's the case for nuclear-armed iran is unacceptable and diplomacy fails that leaves us with one option the military option. in the book i talk about the military option in the military option isn't a good option either. there are many risks to the military option. the question is it worse or better than deterrence and containment if diplomacy fails? first i talk about the israeli option. many people may think of the military option think israel would do it and not the united states. the problem with the israeli military option is they don't have the capabilities to destroy iran's key nuclear facilities. there are four key facilities to aboveground israel could destroy those in two facilities below ground. even with those bombs there's no way i ran to get the facility at home. it's under 295 feet of rock.
the israeli option is not a good option and i think it's one thing hawks and doves in the united states agree on the israeli military option is not a good one. the u.s. military option is much better simply because united states does have the capability to destroy iran's facilities. this would set iran's nuclear program back. it's difficult to estimate how much time we are buying. most estimates use the range from three to seven years but this is a worst-case estimate. these are estimates assuming iran decides immediately rebuild and doesn't encounter significant obstacles. if you start asem politics and geopolitics happened the timeline becomes longer. one of the things i talk about in the book is a look at the four countries historically who have had nuclear facilities attacked in nazi germany during world war ii iran had its nuclear facilities attacked iraq at its facilities attacked and the israelis followed up with a
strike of their own in the united states and the coalition followed up with tricks of their own. in 2007 had its nuclear reactor attack from israel. one of the things i point out is in all those cases the countries conducting the attack thought they had limited amount of time but in every case of unforeseen events that were completely unimaginable at the time came to pass that prevented them from developing nuclear weapons and of those countries have a nuclear weapon today. at a minimum the strike would buy a few years but i think it's much more likely that politics and geopolitics would happen and iran wouldn't acquire nuclear weapons. there are risks to military action most notably retaliation but it's important not to exaggerate those. many people argue it would lead to world war iii or broader war. as i talk about in the book it's hard to imagine how that would play out. first you need to focus on iranian capabilities and iran doesn't have conventional military to speak of. rather they been investigating
asymmetric capabilities. they have been investigating ballistic missiles ties with proxy groups and then maybe they could use to cause problems in the persian gulf and potentially close the strait of hormuz. that is what iran could do to conduct ballistic missile attacks and it could harass and attack ships in the persian gulf. we also have to ask what would iran do. put yourself in the shoes of iran's current leader. you wake up one morning in your facilities have been destroyed by your countries and pack your military is intact is attacked or foremost objective is to protect your theocratic regime. what do you do? on one hand you don't have to strike back. you would look like a wimp if you didn't strike back. on the other hand he would want to pick a full scale war with united states. the one country on earth that could ensure your military is destroyed and your shame comes to an end. most iranian analysts assess
that iran's supreme leader would aim for response to try to strike back but not too hard. so i think we could play on iran's fears in the book i talk about a strategy the united states could use to mitigate some of the negative consequences of the strike. one of the things i talk about is we could issue a threat to iran's leaders and make it clear that if tickets to this point we are interested in destroying the nuclear facilities and not overthrowing the regime. if iran strikes back too hard if it poses the strait of hormuz or conducts a major terrorist attack in the united states or the other things we could live with them we would be willing to escalate the conflict. i think in that way we can play on what many people believe is the supreme leader's inclination anyway and trade iran's nuclear program with president obama's leading security challenges to the country for calibrated iranian retaliation.
so that's not a good option and we are we are still dealing with taking military action. what i do in the book is the chapter compares the side-by-side. there are many ways to do this in the way i do it is identifying 12 of america's mo most -- the united states wants to protect the homeland in the united states want to prevent nuclear proliferation and combat terror some protect their alli allies. 12 of these entries. then i go through and compared these scenarios of military strike on iran or containing a nuclear armed iran. one of the things i show this there are several interests that are better protected by a strike. a nuclear proliferation for example is clearly better protected. there are many interested seem to be pure tossups. it's unclear which option better
protected interest. a strike is clearly worse for stability in the short-term taking military action against another country in retaliation but there's a good argument to be made that over the long term acquiescing would be worse for regional stability as iran becomes emboldened and leads to a nuclear arms race so it's hard to say which option is better for protecting regional stability. what becomes clear is there is clearly not a single interest is better protected in the short-term and the long-term by acquiescing to a nuclear iran. in fact i tell a story about when i was working as an adviser on iran policy and i did a major briefing on this issue. two senior defense and civilian and military leaders at the pentagon. defense officials like to receive information and power point slides of the file is presentation was a chart showing
very centrist. options interests i'm sorry that were improved in a various scenario and interests there remained roughly the same and the couple were neutral or yellow and interest harm to the scenario were orange or red depending on the levels of severity. two things stood out to everybody. first there was a lot of green. a lot of orange and red. the second thing is that everybody in the ram was a nuclear-armed iran was noticeably darker. the military strike the risk of a military strike peeled in comparison literally in this case to the risks of a nuclear-armed iran. in fact at the end of the briefing the four briefing the foremost seniormost official in a room looks me straight in the eye and said if you are right it's a no-brainer. i think that's correct. i think these are bad options and we should try to solve this diplomatically but but if it gets to the point of choosing conducting a limited strike on
key nuclear facilities is less bad than living with the threat posed by nuclear-armed iran. when the obama administration makes a statement that a nuclear-armed iran is unacceptable i don't think it's just bluster. i think it's what is in the best interest of the country. i will finish up by telling a short story. in 2006 i was in singapore for conference scenario planning conference. there were policymakers from asia and europe the united states and this conference we considered various scenarios and the idea was to think creatively to have insights and stress and strain our sentience about the way the world work and take these back to our day jobs. one of the scenarios centered around global financial crisis. remember this is 2006 that we had all these educated people in the room all these people who follow the international economy
international politics and the session was a complete bust. everybody in the room said this is just impossible. we haven't had a crisis like this since the great depression. they were willing to stretch their minds that this was going too far. then of course global financial crisis hit the next year. i fear that the expert committee and the general public are in danger of being similarly pollyanna-ish about nuclear war. i have decided to spend the first 10 years of my academic career studying nuclear proliferation because i do believe it poses a grave threat to international peace and security. i look at the cold war and don't say deterrence works. are we really willing to bet the security of the international system, the security of the country on the argument that something has to happen in
several years and therefore what happen again? i for for one of someone who spent time thinking about nuclear weapons would be surprised if nuclear weapons aren't used sometime in my lifetime. if iran acquires nuclear weapons it could be one of the prime candidates for the next nuclear war potentially even one that could result in an attack on the united states. we often say it poses one of the greatest threats the united states that we have to be willing to do what it takes to stop it in an principle military strikes on nuclear facilities or proliferating states has to be one of the tools in our toolbox. i think if it gets to the point that the united states must take tough action against iran it would be consistent with america's approach to internet security over the past century. the united states has often been called upon to take tough action to deal with threats to international security and the result i think has been general
>> my name is andrew and i'm with the freedom for sudan committee. i also have a free baluchistan facebook group. i appreciate your nondefeatist and nonappeasement presentation, but other than the military option or the leave it alone option to the tune you spelled out mayor dagon, who ran anti-iran covert operations came to washington to prevent -- present a third option. an option which briefly came to
the white house first and try to convince them. as frustrated and went on "60 minutes" and presented is what i call the dagon option empowering the pro-freedom forces in sudan. a page for your buck and you refer to tangentially supporting the opposition and dementia dimension covert operations in a regime change. really the full idea of empowering people fighting to be free is something we in the united states have not been good at and i think in our culture are military state department or cia culture and i think this is the third option i would like to throw at you. one time we tried it with congress and the grassroots revolted against the cia's portrayal of the afghan resistance in the 1980s which i was involved in that. we won.
and that led to six wars. that's exactly what it needs. i thought i would just throw that you and get your comment on it. thank you. >> good question. i talk a little bit in the book about the iranian -- and 99. as you were called this is one, to the jet was elected and he was running against this green movement and must be and many iranians thought that the green had won the election so many iranians turned out in the street protests.
at that time the administration's position was to keep a low profile because when the obama administration came in they wanted to try this. they have this dual-track approach as i talk about in the book pressure and engagement and i started out on engagement. i thought by reaching out to iran and showing they were different than the bush of willing to cooperate and engage in diplomacy that i would convince iran. so the election 2009 the green movement takes to the streets and the obama administration's first inclination was that stays silent on this. we need the government as a partner and we don't want to embarrass them. i think that was a mistake. i think they should have stood up for a more open movement. we lost our opportunity. after 2009 the green movement was demoralized and many of them moved overseas or were in pris prison. we saw in 2013 i think what the
election in 2013 last summer shows is a reigning regime is as strong as ever from the regime's point of view so hassan rouhani was elected it was granted more moderate with iran's theocratic system but he's still a regime insider. he was still on the slate of candidates preapproved by the supreme leader so power pass without controversy and without protest to a hand-picked candidate of the supreme leader. i think what the election shows is the current government is even stronger than it was in 2009. i think united states is doing something to encourage democracy. in iran there've been reports about the ad states in providing information technology that would allow opposition movements in iran to communicate and organize so i think there are some steps in that direction. and potentially we could do more but i think we still have the same problem i talked about in my opening remarks which is that the current government is strong
enough now that it's hard for me to see how they fall in time for it to solve the nuclear problem for us. we are engaged in these negotiations and the deadline for the next to get this conference a deal is july 20 with the possibility of extension to january 20 and it's hard for me to see how the regime falls in that timeframe. they do i think that would be great but i think it's unlikely. >> my name is sam thompson i used to work at the state department with gary by the way on nonproliferation. i was disturbed by the title of your book and then was more encouraged as you progressed and indicated that you were favorably disposed in diplomatic efforts but then as i listen to you you are pretty cynical about the diplomatic efforts and you say even if we proceed down that path
i think that's a huge disadvantage. >> thank you very much. first you said that i pooh-poohed the diplomatic option. to be absolutely clear i do think the diplomatic option is the best option but i think we have to be realistic. there's a good chance we won't get a conference a deal because president obama says less than 50/50 and as i said if we get a deal there's a possibility it might unravel so better chance for diplomacy won't solve the problem but that's the case i think we should pursue it. one of the advantages of a military strike as it buys time but diplomacy also buys time. as long as this interim deal is
in place iran is not making the final -- to a nuclear weapon and if you get a conference a deal it's going to mean the international community needs to maintain laser focus on iran essentially forever to make sure it's not responding to any attempt to break out and so i think it's fragile but again as long as we can keep that in place we are delaying iran's nuclear capability and i think that's a good thing. again i think it's the best way forward and i think we have to be realistic that it's probably not a permanent solution but we can use it to buy time and should use it to buy time. second on north korea i think the main difference between iran and north korea is that north korea is too late. north korea's estimated at between six and a dozen nuclear weapons but we don't know where they are so we don't have any military option there. we did have a military option in
1994. the united states and president clinton seriously considered a strike in 1994. many people advocated for it and some of those people who abdicated for it have said recently that we should've taken action in 1994 that north korea has led to many problems over the past 10 years and if we have taken action we wouldn't have to deal with those. north korea's transfer nuclear technology and helped syria build a nuclear reactor. north korea has been our aggressive and it has attacked south korea and a south korean warship. it shelled a south korean island. north korea is engaged in nuclear threats against our allies and even engaged in threats against us. i remember last year a threat to los angeles and austin texas of all places and a few other things. if iran acquires nuclear weapons these are things we would have to worry about. iran would likely transfer nuclear technology and become more aggressive potentially
attacking instant neighbors and we haven't seen the full range of consequences. it's only been less than 10 years. 2006 was their first step so we can still have a nuclear war involving north korean nuclear weapons. i think these are all things which aware that with iran and that name -- main difference is it isn't too late for iran. it's too late for korea and we can do something about iran. in terms of the cost there are a lot of costs and we only have 30 minutes here and i go into that their costs in the book so i would encourage you to look at that. he said if there's any doubt iran would build nuclear weapons presently a strike would convince him to go all the way. many people make that argument. what i argue in the book is iran has made the decision. there's no way to explain their behavior over the past two years except if they decide to build a nuclear weapon. the supreme leader has been building up its program for decades. it's naïve for us to assume he
hasn't thought long and hard about what he is doing and what he intends to do. the second thing i point out in the book is if that's a concern that can be mitigated completely by a timely strike so if we strike tomorrow night and there's a danger that if they are somewhat on the fence that would change their mind. what argument book as we said -- the time it with what the red lines are. that is when we should take military action. if iran is emerging to 90% and kicked out inspectors at that point it'll be clear and if we don't do anything they will build nuclear weapons of taking action will be the only thing that creates the possibility of a nonnuclear outcome. uniting the iranian people. i think that's almost certain the short term it would create a rally around the flag effect. the other thing we know about it is they tend to be relatively short-lived and many people understand avesta policy much
better than me from a u.s. military strategy and national security strategy point of view that those who know domestic politics very well say the long-term it will create opportunities for operation figures to criticize the government for mismanaging the problem to this point that led to an armed attack on the country that led to iran having its nuclear program destroyed and the other thing i would point out is we can't just look at the cost on one side the cost someone stuck a village or the other. we have to compare them so one of the things said in the book is say what does acquiring nuclear weapons due to domestic politics? it allows them to differ for an attack and make the argument to domestic publics that they steer the ship of state in the international crisis maintain a nuclear program and one of only 10 states honored to become a nuclear power and that would be loved and potentially longer
because there is only than one country that will have nuclear weapons. difficult issues here but my own view taking all these issues into account is a strike is less bad than acquiescing. >> my name is steve davis and i'm on the council here for some years. i live in a house that was built in 1954. we have been in a state of belligerence with the iranian people or are the iranian government since that time. much of it instigated by the united states primarily by the overthrow of the democratically-elected president. the iranians have a point of view. the iranians ostensibly like other countries have a right to self-determination. we talk about them as though
they are but a pawn on her chessboard. i would like our diplomacy to wipe out an include and respect for other people's history and how they view us. we are not innocent in the wor world. i would like your comments on that. >> well thanks. first in terms of respect for iranian history or culture it's something i talk about in the book. an amazing civilization in history and a lot of respect there so i have no problem with the iranian people. i think most people in the u.s. government on either. the problem is the sponsorship of terrorism and the nuclear program so what -- that is what poses a direct threat to the united states. iran has a point of view and i completely agree with that. i think given iran's stated goals to the turf for an act of being the most out of state in the region that acquiring nuclear weapons makes sense from
the iranian point of view. if i were an iranian adviser given those goals acquire nuclear weapons makes sense. the problem is it's an anarchic civil government. countries do things that they think is in their own interest and that ends up threatening other states. iran acquiring nuclear weapons might be good for a rant but it's bad for u.s. interests and national security so if i would become an iranian citizen i might argue something different but as a united states citizen i think it's something as threatening and something we should try to stop. >> my name is caleb and i'm an intern. i'm from texas and rick perry was happy that north korea put us on their target list. how do deteriorating relations with russia and the status quo affects soft power calculus or
coercive diplomatic action and change the response to short-term military action? >> one of the concerns with worsening relations with russia is at what it does to p. five so being able to get the major powers permanent five members of the security council and germany on the same side putting pressure on iran basically provided by the sanctions having unified face in negotiations has been helpful. many people are worried that if relations with russia continued to worsen that russia might not be on board with the negotiations with iran. talking to some of my colleagues who work on this issue they say so far we haven't seen signs that russia is being unhelpful with iran. there has been some discussion of a possible oil deal between russia and iran that would help alleviate economic pressure but so far that's just talk. i think we should hope in a way
that those issues stay isolated and the crisis in ukraine but if russia wanted to play the spoiler role in iran that could do that and make a diplomatic settlement even harder. >> hi. thank you so much for the talk. my name is will pitino and i'm a student in u.s. foreign policy at american university. thank you so much for the comments about the cold war and how it ended and how we are lucky and that was a poignant point to me. i was interested on your thoughts on this demand issue that you brought up. i feel like if you could maybe expand on that a little bit mo more. i guess that there are ways that the u.s. can in its geopolitical calculus in the middle east worked to reduce the demand. if you could just address that a little more i would appreciate
it. thank you. >> a couple of things come to mind. one is there are different factions within iranian politics and a lot of the talk of iran is a coherent entity often in foreign policy. we talk about states as a coherent entity. there are hard-liners and the ra gc in the parliament who strongly believe iran should be the most dominant state in the region and needs to acquire nuclear weapons to do that. that's one of diplomatic settlement with the great satan which is what they call the united states threatening to iran what it stands for that iran stands for resistance in the international community facing negotiations and the deal is something to be avoided. on the other hand you do have more moderate forces in iran and i think rouhani the current president and the foreign minister represent that point of view. i think they think international
isolation is not good for iran and they understand the economy is being badly damaged so they would like to get relief and i think they're willing to put curbs on the nuclear program to get that. the important thing to point out is that the supreme leader is the ultimate decision-maker. the supreme leader is looking at these viewpoints in making the final decision. historically the supreme leader has been more on the hard-line cap than the moderate camp. i think what he is trying to do is have his cake and eat it too you'd like to have nuclear weapons or not as advanced nuclear program as possible and get sanctions relief. i think probably that is what iran is trying to achieve in these negotiations. in terms of addressing the demand in foreign policy we often talk about using carrots and sticks. promising carrots or inducements for good baker and threatening sticks for bad behavior.
what many people have said is you really have to rely on sticks because when you look at benefits there's nothing we can promise iran that is more valuable than nuclear weapons capability. there is nothing we can promise that is more valuable than to deter foreign attack and become the most dominant state in the region so therefore the dominant key is to sticks. at the end of the day take military action so i think i agree with the point of view that the key to addressing this issue isn't addressing demand because i don't think there's anything we could possibly offer iran. we have tried peaceful nuclear technology and tried promising other things and they haven't been interested so i think the key is making it clear that we can threaten economic and in the end military action if they don't accept this deal that they don't really want. >> my name is tom retired u.s.
government. i have two very different questions. the first one is more substantive. we keep talking about two or three months or six months. is this based on iaea and by the iaea is doing today and what kind of thing are we going to get out of, six months out of this current agreement that's going to be better so they won't cheat? >> old trust but verify story. the second one, trickier. you might not want to comment on it is i was pretty sure that obama was heading, i was believing in obama's red line until we have this critical juncture on syria where the congress and the american people got to fill out opinion polls and so is the diplomatic option
fails who is going to decide? >> first on the trust but verify issue we are fortunate enough to have ali kohn and in the audience who worked at the iaea on the iran portfolio for many years so thank you for coming. i should probably turn this one over to you but, three -- two to three months is how one would take iran if they decided immediately to -- to 90%. the other thing i should mention that i talk about in the book the other thing the interim deal guess is international agency access so now the iaea inspectors are visiting key nuclear inspectors i believe every day. or close to everyday and in a conference of deal we would want to get that kind of access.
also as part of the interim i'd deal iran is allowed access so a week or so ago they allowed us to access uranium mining and uranium milling facilities. we have good eyes on the program. if we got a conference of deal that would need to be part of it so we would detect quickly if iran were trying to break out. of course you don't know what you don't know. it's possible they have secret facilities that they don't know about that the iaea doesn't know about that there are good reasons to believe we know the full extent of the program. the good news is a forget the conference of deal and iran try to cheat we would like to catch them. the bad news is we would only have six months to do it. so i share your concern on syria and its clear setting this clear red line on syria and backing off of it that has been damaging to u.s. credibility. i have a colleague who went to
the east asia talking with allies and seoul in tokyo and she says she was surprised how often syria came up. what does this mean? the president said he was going to use force and he didn't. what does that mean to her security commitment from united states? can we count on the united states in a more? because of that our commitments are being called into question everywhere including on iran. again the president has said he's going to use force -- he's willing to use force and i talked to one of his advisers and they say he wants to solve this diplomatically and he doesn't want to have to use force but he is not going to allow it if he doesn't have to. the problem is nobody believes that. the president does and a couple of his close advisers do and i do but my sense is the american public doesn't believe person obama would use force on iran. i think in some ways that's the
worst possible situation, the president is willing to use force but nobody nobody believes them. in that situation iran might be tempted to cross those red lines and we could get into a war that could have been avoided if we have more credibility. to address that issue a talk in a book about things united states can do to increase the credibility of the military option of diplomacy breaks down. being more explicit about what the plans are would be helpful if the president made a clear statement about what is -- what is red lines are. i think of diplomacy breaks down asking congress for having congress provide an authorization for the use of military force would help to lend credibility and i think engaging in a more robust or breach with their friends and allies abroad about this to make sure it's clear they know we are serious and iranians see we are taking these steps. i think all these could help increase the credibility and the romans used to say if you want peace prepare for war and so i think i would be the purpose of
the mechanisms. these are the steps you would go through to prepare for war but a fair fancies of them believes that they might be deterred from crossing our red lines. >> thanks matt. i want to offer a couple of nuances here. first of all i like your analysis as such but we all know the story of 1001 nights. he wanted to buy time so he does not get killed. with the iranian nuclear crisis and it depends where you start that my clock start somewhere and 2002 so we have july 20 depending on where you put your line, 4001 nights. i think what has happened to us is we became a hostage in the
second hostage crisis with iran. i think here actually a thing in between that iran really doesn't test nuclear weapons manufacturing. it's a small country with limited resources that doesn't make sense. they do exactly this and how to deal with the metal base and how to embolden etc.. this is very difficult for the international community to deal with because iran has the right to do xyz and they have no proof they have violated their safeguards for mpt undertakings. the international community is a little bit -- and when i look at today, two months, three months, three months, six months, first of all when i worked at the