If You Really Want to Bomb Iran, Take the Deal

Iran hawks are already out in force denouncing the announced nuclear deal between the United States and Iran. They worry that it takes the military option off the table. But the reality is just the opposite – anyone who supports the United States bombing Iran are well advised to jump on this deal.

I have spent a large portion of the past decade assessing military options against Iran’s program and the costsbenefits and likely consequences of the use of force. I have previously argued that any attack must answer the question of the end game: what is the long-term outcome of military force? Taking this deal, if it is implemented as currently outlined, not only increases the benefits and reduces the costs of military action should Iran attempt breakout, it also helps answer the end game question.

There are three main ways the deal improves the benefits of potential military action. First, one of the main objections to using force is that after Iran is bombed it can reconstitute its program, primarily by building new centrifuges for enrichment. Critics of force often argue Iran could reconstitute quickly because the United States lacks detailed knowledge of the supply chain that would allow Iran to build new centrifuges.

The deal very specifically addresses this objection in multiple points. It calls for inspectors to continuously monitor Iran’s supply chain, emphasizing “Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing base will be frozen and under continuous surveillance.” Further, Iran will only be allowed to procure nuclear components through a transparent and dedicated procurement channel. From an intelligence perspective this as an unparalleled opportunity to collect, analyze and develop targeting databases on this crucial element of Iran’s ability to reconstitute its nuclear program. A bombing campaign that effectively destroyed the centrifuge manufacturing base would cripple Iran’s ability to reconstitute for years, perhaps even a decade or more. This opportunity alone should make Iran hawks gleeful.

Second, the deal forces Iran to concentrate the bulk of its…

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