How can the world contain Iran and its nuclear ambitions? It’s a question that consistently arises in foreign policy strategy in the United States, Europe, Israel, and even among Muslim countries Middle East. While some strategists see economic and political sanctions as an effective deterrent that could force Iranian leadership to the bargaining table, others believe it is only a matter of time before Iran will be able produce the fissile material necessary to create a nuclear weapon– and that a preemptive military strike would seriously damage those efforts.
In 1981, Israel carried out a surprise unilateral strike on an Iraqi nuclear facility nicknamed Operation Opera that destroyed a French-made reactor nicknamed Osirak. While widely condemned by the international community, the attack was thought to have set behind Iraq’s nuclear plans by about 10 years; however, it is also possible the attack galvanized Saddam Hussein, the president of Iraq at the time, to move his research underground. This year, the RAND Corporation released a report that said a similar attack on Iran would actually energize the country to produce and deploy a nuclear arsenal.
At a CUNY Graduate Center event, journalist Peter Beinhart and lawyer Alan Dershowitz debated the consequences of an Israeli attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities.