Middle East Notes and Comment: The Iran Problem
March 27, 2012
As the world works to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, there is widespread agreement on what failure looks like: an Iranian bomb—or more likely, a number of Iranian bombs—that emboldens the Iranian government, threatens the Middle East and prompts many of Iran’s neighbors to develop their own weapons, destabilizing the most energy-rich part of the world.
It is harder to define success. For some, success can only come when the Iranian nuclear problem is “solved.” That is, success comes when the government of Iran convincingly renounces any effort to develop nuclear weapons, opens all of its nuclear facilities to international inspection, and reveals the sources for its technology and materials. Anything short of that, they argue, represents a failure, and failures happen every day until success is achieved.
But defining success narrowly and failure broadly makes it difficult to achieve success on several levels.