The Looming Crisis with Iran

Iran and its nuclear program may well constitute the Obama administration’s first foreign policy crisis, because it is possible that Iran will reject any diplomatic compromise. In that case, the US would have to decide whether to live with a nuclear Iran or attack it – the worst sort of choice, because both options carry high risks and costs.

NEW YORK – When Barack Obama takes office in January, he will be greeted by many difficult challenges, beginning with the acute economic crisis. But he will not have the luxury of focusing on this exclusively. He will also have to contend with an array of foreign policy challenges. Of these, Iran and its nuclear program may well constitute the Obama administration’s first foreign policy crisis.

The reason is simple. Iran is well down the path to being able to enrich uranium on a large enough scale to produce a nuclear weapon. The International Atomic Energy Agency just reported that Iran may well reach this point in 2009.

An Iran with a nuclear weapon or the ability to produce one or more bombs in short order poses a true danger. Still, one path for the new American administration would be to adopt the “North Korea” option and live with the threat. The risk is that doing so would make an already unstable and conflict-prone Middle East even more so.

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