Protests in Iran over the fall of its currency, which lost about a third of its value, might suggest that there is still time for sanctions to work. And indeed there is a strong case to be made for legislation such as that introduced by Sen. Mark Kirk, which would further tighten sanctions on Iranian banks. But then comes this report from the Institute for Science and International Security, which suggests Tehran could have enough weapons-grade uranium to make a nuclear device in just two to four months–although it would take longer to weaponize that uranium.
Assuming that timeline is accurate (and of course no outsider knows the true state of the Iranian program), it suggests that the next president will have a momentous decision to make in the first months of his term of office. Deciding to do nothing–to let sanctions work and hope for the best–would be the easiest path, but it risks either letting Iran go nuclear or forcing Israel to launch air strikes of its own. The former option would be a catastrophe. The latter option would be better, but runs the risk of a dangerous Iranian reaction in return for less-than-lethal damage to their nuclear facilities. Either way, the game of “kick the can down the road”–which has been played by both the Bush and Obama administrations–is going to come to an end and the next commander-in-chief is going to face an agonizing choice about how far we are willing to go to stop Iran.