With Iran, you never really know what's what (remember the National Intelligence Estimate a few years ago telling us that Tehran had stopped developing nuclear weapons?) but I think it is fair to say that the combination of sanctions and subterfuge has definitively set back Iran's nuclear program by at least one and perhaps as many as four years. As I said, all of this is provisional, and it is perhaps true, as some critics have it, that the outgoing Mossad chief, Meir Dagan, who is telling anyone who will listen that Iran is back on its heels, is letting his personal opinions about the efficacy of a military strike against Iran color his intelligence analysis, but I really don't think so. Dagan, those who know him tell me, is too invested in the survival of Israel and the Jewish people to politicize intelligence in this way. In any case, Dagan's recent statements have led to an unlikely scenario in which the American secretary of state sounds tougher on Iran than the head of the Mossad. But Iran can do that to people.
Much credit in delaying Iran goes to the unknown inventor of Stuxnet, the miracle computer virus, which has bollixed-up Iran's centrifuges; much credit goes to the Mossad and the CIA and the Brits and God knows who else, who are working separately and in tandem to subvert the Iranian program, and a great deal of credit must go to, yes, President Barack Obama, who has made stopping Iran one of his two or three main foreign policy priorities over the past two years. He did the difficult work of pulling together serious multilateral sanctions against Iran; he has convinced the Israelis -- at least he has partially convinced some Israelis -- that he has placed the prestige of his presidency behind this effort, and that he sincerely and deeply understands why it is in no one's interest to see Iran with a bomb, and he has supported, in ways that I only know the most general way, some very hard-edged counterproliferation programs, programs whose existence proves, among other things, that he is capable of real and decisive toughness.