Following last week’s harsh rebuke from the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency, including the U.S., Russia, and China, Iran responded by publicly announcing plans on Sunday to build 10 new uranium enrichment facilities. The Iranian leadership did not attempt to hide the fact that this decision was retaliation for the IAEA’s resolution. Vice President Salehi explained the decision by sayin Iran “had no intention of building many facilities like the Natanz site, but apparently the West doesn’t want to understand Iran’s peaceful message.”
There’s only one problem with all this bluster: there doesn’t seem to be any practical way for Iran to actually build the new enrichment plants. “There’s no way,” David Albright, the head of the Institute for Science and International Security, was quoted as telling Haaretz. “They have sanctions to overcome, they have technical problems. They have to buy things overseas…and increasingly it’s all illegal.”
It’s hard to fathom why Iran would make a threat that nonproliferation experts and foreign heads of state know they are unable to follow through on, unless they really are trying to pressure the United States to impose a new round of economic sanctions on their country. Could the leadership of the Islamic Republic, which constructed its legitimacy around opposition to the United States, actually feel more secure if the West abandons its previous attempts at engagement and adopts a more confrontational stance?
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Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |