How Will Iran Retaliate?

Obviously, Iran will need to retaliate for the assassination of scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the head of the nation’s efforts to construct a nuclear warhead. No viable nation can allow for such an act to take place within their borders, by another nation, and not be expected to deliver a response to show justified anger. No matter what one feels about Iran there are certain steps that will be ‘required’ as a consequence of any nation being so attacked.

The international reporting has left little doubt about who is behind this killing. Armchair readers of news from that region need not be told that Israel was behind the attack on the scientist. While some urge restraint on Iran concerning retaliation there is no doubt what the bold reaction would be should such a dastardly act occur in France, Britain, or the United States. Iran has every right to make their move. But the type of response they deliver is the question to be considered.

This blog has been a proponent of the nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers. I was therefore not in agreement with the reckless move by Donald Trump to undermine the work that was done by so many for so long.

Trump was not aware of what the accord was meant to achieve. Very long ago we all stopped being shocked by his severe lack of knowledge on a vast array of topics. He was never aware we need to make deals with those we have international problems with, knowing those final deals are only as solid as the circumstances allow.

Trump did not understand in his one term in office (hallelujah!) that it would have been a dereliction of duty by the Obama White House not to have strived mightly for a nuclear deal with Iran. To have not pressed hard to get a document that reduced the chances of Iran getting a bomb in the next decade would have been totally unacceptable.

No one ever laid claim to any illusion that Iran was an ally or someone that could be trusted.  That is why safeguards were placed into the accord to make sure that actions that ran counter to the deal could be dealt with in a fashion that left no doubt our international partners would demand accountability.

It was therefore dangerous for Trump to so foolishly toss aside the accord of which he never understood how it was grounded within the international community. It was just one prime example of Trump not knowing the wisdom of working with other nations in a common cause.

Now many in the international community are hoping that the expected retaliation by Iran will be limited in scope so that it does not create a scenario where new efforts at refashioning relations is truly harmed in the years going forward. There is every reason for Iran to be outraged but much can be gained by not over-reacting.

International relations always play out in slow and methodical ways. As such this allows for windows to be opened at certain times which fosters results that secures stability. Iran has been attacked by a foreign power but we must hope their retaliation in the days to come can be measured. Many around the world hope that a new tone from a new president can again establish a working coalition of countries who understand the need for working in concert for the bigger goals.

Internationalism will again be a force in America’s playbook. Thankfully.

And so it goes.

Powerful Front Cover Of The Economist Features Nuclear Weapons And President Obama


Warhead-chopping is not even the hardest part. Mr Obama says he will resubmit the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty to the Senate for ratification (it was rejected in 1999 in a highly partisan vote), something Mr Bush refused to do. He also wants to jump-start long-stalled negotiations on a verifiable treaty to end the production of fissile material for military uses. But Mr Obama on his own cannot will success on either front. Others, not just America, need to change their ways too.

A treaty-backed ban on testing is in America’s interests. Many other countries have already signed it. China would probably ratify the ban if America does. But Pakistan won’t accept a test ban unless India does (both, like Israel, are nuclear-armed but outside the NPT), and without them and belligerent North Korea the treaty cannot take full effect. Similarly, the effort to ban making more fissile material for bombs was last stymied by Iran and Pakistan; India officially supports this ban, knowing that others will do the blocking for it.

Such is the disarmament minefield of today. Navigating a future world of much lower nuclear numbers presents new hazards. As America and Russia get close to 1,000 warheads each, they will want Britain, France and China to put their smaller arsenals on the negotiating table too. Britain has always said it will, China and France have not. And what about India, Pakistan, Israel and others?

As numbers drop, allies will wonder if America’s nuclear umbrella can still stretch far enough. Missile defences, a bone of contention today between America and both Russia and China, will be needed to bolster confidence against unexpected threats. But how to negotiate them and deploy them in ways that do not undercut nuclear stability?

Mr Obama is right. This and more are the work of decades. The world may never get to zero. But it would help make things a lot safer along the way if others act in concert. If North Korea and Iran can keep counting on the protection of China and Russia in their rule-breaking, progress will be all too slight.