ElBaradei and Iran

I'm with Oliver Kamm:

The emerging problem with Iran is not whether it is actively building nuclear weapons but whether we can take the regime at its word that a civil nuclear programme will not be used for military purposes. The answer to that question dominates all other considerations, because if and when Iran has access to the full fuel cycle, then the technology to fabricate material for nuclear weapons is essentially all there. Because the regime is deceitful, supports terrorism and anticipates the extinction of a member state of the UN, that prospect is ominous. This is why united diplomatic pressure on Iran needs to be exercised now, before only military options remain. ElBaradei will make that task more difficult if he insists on interpreting his role as that of political leader rather than civil servant.

Just because Cheney is worried about something, that doesn't mean there's nothing to be worried about. The trouble, of course, is that Bush and Cheney have so polarized American and world opinion, and so lost any measure of public trust (for good reason), that the kind of strategy needed to prevent Iran going nuclear without the resort to military force has become less and less feasible. Which, one suspects, is exactly how Cheney likes it. At the very minimum, we have to insist on a full Congressional debate and mandatory Congressional authorization for any last-resort military action. At a maximum, I think we need to wait for a new president to make these decisions free from the polarizing toxins unleashed by the Decider.