West Cannot Settle for a Japanese-Style Status Quo in Iran

Can it really be that American and European officials can’t tell the difference between Japan and Iran? That is what you would think reading today’s article by Helene Cooper in the New York Times. She writes: “Several American and European officials say privately that the most attainable outcome for the West could be for Iran to maintain the knowledge and technology necessary to build a nuclear weapon while stopping short of doing so.” As a model for Iran, these unnamed officials cite Japan:

In other words, Iran would have to become a country like Japan, which has the capability to become an atomic power virtually overnight, if need be, but has rejected taking the final steps to possessing nuclear weapons. “If you’re asking whether we would be satisfied with Iran becoming Japan, then the answer is a qualified yes,” a senior European diplomat said. “But it would have to be verifiable, and we are a long ways away from trusting the regime.”

In the very next sentence Cooper pours cold water on this analogy: “Today’s Iran is nothing like Japan, which has a deep aversion to nuclear weapons dating to the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” No kidding. One might also mention the fact that Japan is a democratic country that is a close ally of the United States, whereas Iran is ruled by messianic mullahs who are intent on making war on the U.S. and our regional allies in order to spread their totalitarian revolution around the Middle East. Iran’s leaders have publicly affirmed their commitment, in particular, to obliterating Israel; if Japanese leaders have voiced any hostile intentions against any other country since 1945, I must have missed it.

In short–to state the obvious–it is hard to think of two countries more dissimilar than Iran and Japan. The kind of trust we repose in Japanese decision-making cannot remotely be extended to Tehran’s opaque decision-making process. The West cannot settle for a Japanese-style status quo in Iran, hoping against hope the Iranian regime will not use its nuclear technology to produce a weapon. That is likely to prove a losing bet–something we won’t find out until after the first Iranian nuclear test. By which time, it will be too late.