Diplomacy Preferred, Bluster Counterproductive

On the radar: Obama at AIPAC; the Osirak myth; Yun on the North Korea deal; IAEA board meeting; USA Today seeks informed debate; Significantly wrong on “bombs worth”; Pakistan missile test; Elections (not Super Tuesday); and Kahl and Kroenig debate strikes.

March 5, 2012 | Edited by Benjamin Loehrke and Mary Kaszynski

Obama urges caution - Speaking at the AIPAC conference yesterday, President Obama warned that “loose talk of war” on Iran could prove counterproductive, Helene Cooper reports for The New York Times.

--“I firmly believe that an opportunity still remains for diplomacy -- backed by pressure -- to succeed,” Obama said. “For the sake of Israel’s security, America’s security and the peace and security of the world, now is not the time for bluster.” http://owl.li/9suhW

--Read the President’s full remarks at the AIPAC conference here. http://owl.li/9svPS

Lessons from Iraq - “If history repeats itself, an Israeli attack would result in a wounded adversary more determined than ever to get a nuclear bomb,” writes Colin Kahl in a Washington Post piece on the 1981 Israeli strike on Osirak.

--“Then the world would face the same terrible choices it ultimately faced with Iraq: decades of containment to stall nuclear rebuilding efforts, invasion and occupation — or acquiescence to an implacable nuclear-armed foe.” http://owl.li/9suuG

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Two versions of the North Korea deal - “Discrepancies and omissions in significant places [in the U.S. and DPRK statements on the nuclear deal] make me wonder if a "meeting of the minds" actually took place,” writes Philip Yun in Foreign Policy.

--“The U.S. must figure out a way to patch the holes that still seem to exist between the two negotiating parties or this latest development may once again set expectations too high,” he concludes. http://owl.li/9suOF

The “gorilla in the boardroom” - The IAEA board of governors convenes today and will discuss Iran’s nuclear program. Julian Borger of The Guardian provides background on the IAEA’s recent Iran report as the agency tackles “the gorilla in the boardroom.”

--”In short, there is evidence of a rush by the Iranian authorities to create facts on the ground that make it look like they have achieved more than is actually the case,” either to establish a stronger bargaining position or to play to Iranian domestic politics. http://owl.li/9suzO

An appeal for informed debate - “Plainly, the crisis [with Iran] is escalating. What's remarkable is that war is drawing so close with so little public discussion of the consequences,” writes USA Today in a recent editorial. The paper then goes on to game out possible consequences, including Iranian retaliation on Israel, on US troops in Afghanistan, and on oil interests in the Persian Gulf, among others. http://owl.li/9suk9

Significantly wrong on “bombs worth” measures - Pundits frequently measure countries plutonium and highly enriched uranium stockpiles by “bombs worth” instead of the more accurate kilograms. Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress, Miles Pomper, and Jeffrey Lewis take significant issue with that over at Arms Control Wonk.

--The authors remind that, to the extent that the international standard of “Significant Quantity” (25 kg of U235) is useful, it must be used correctly. Read the full post for a refresher on why 25kg of 20-percent HEU amounts to neither a significant quantity nor an effective “bombs worth.” http://owl.li/9suLl

Pakistan missile test - Pakistan declared today that it successfully tested its Hatf 2 ballistic missile. The missile has a range up to 113 miles and can be fitted with nuclear or conventional warheads. http://owl.li/9svHh

Elections in Russia & Iran - Putin’s election win was predictable, but Russia’s future is uncertain. Andrew Weiss gives perspective on Putin by bursting 5 myths in The Washington Post. http://owl.li/9sxDB

--Iran’s recent parliamentary elections led to a consolidation of power under the Supreme Leader. The New York Times has the story. http://owl.li/9sxAP

Iran Debates - @ForeignAffairs Video from our "Time to Attack #Iran?" debate is online! Watch Kroenig (Yes) vs Kahl (No) http://fam.ag/xr7xQl

--CSIS hosts the next Kahl-Kroenig Iran debate, Monday the 12th at 6pm. Details and RSVP here. http://owl.li/9suxD