Iran Will Have the Bomb Soon! Really, This Time We Mean It!
Scott Peterson has a fantastic timeline at the Christian Science Monitor that catalogs all the times Western countries have predicted Iran’s imminent entry into the nuclear club. Some highlights:
1984: Soon after West German engineers visit the unfinished Bushehr nuclear reactor, Jane’s Defence Weekly quotes West German intelligence sources saying that Iran’s production of a bomb “is entering its final stages.” US Senator Alan Cranston claims Iran is seven years away from making a weapon.
1992: Israeli parliamentarian Benjamin Netanyahu tells his colleagues that Iran is 3 to 5 years from being able to produce a nuclear weapon – and that the threat had to be “uprooted by an international front headed by the US.”
1995: The New York Times conveys the fears of senior US and Israeli officials that “Iran is much closer to producing nuclear weapons than previously thought” – about five years away – and that Iran’s nuclear bomb is “at the top of the list” of dangers in the coming decade.
1998: [F]ormer Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reports to Congress that Iran could build an intercontinental ballistic missile – one that could hit the US – within five years.
2002: CIA warns that the danger from nuclear-tipped missiles, especially from Iran and North Korea, is higher than during the cold war. Robert Walpole, then a top CIA officer for strategic and nuclear programs, tells a Senate panel that Iran’s missile capability had grown more quickly than expected in the previous two years – putting it on par with North Korea.
2004: Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell tells reporters that Iran had been working on technology to fit a nuclear warhead onto a missile. “We are talking about information that says they not only have [the] missiles but information that suggests they are working hard about how to put the two together,” he said.
Keep this timeline in mind the next time you read that the right of self-defense in the UN Charter permits the U.S. or Israel to attack Iran in order to prevent an Iranian nuclear attack.