Washington, DC – “The military option is not a particularly satisfying option. It affords no permanent solution to the problem,” acknowledged a senior advisor to Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, testifying before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.
The advisor, Stephen Rademaker, explained that airstrikes against Iran probably “buy a year or two, but then after that if the program is back to where it was before, then potentially we have to use military force again.” Rademaker added, “That’s why it is not anyone’s preferred solution. The preferred solution is diplomacy.”
Rademaker’s statement stands in contrast to another of Romney’s advisors, John Bolton, who has cheered for diplomacy to fail and openly advocated for war with Iran.
However, Rademaker faulted the Obama administration for not ramping up military threats against Iran. “When it comes to credibly demonstrating that, if all else fails, force will be used if necessary to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability, we believe U.S. policy has fallen short.”
Rademaker also differed with President Obama’s policy that Iran should not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. The Romney advisor instead endorsed the Israeli redline that Iran should not be allowed to acquire the “capability” to build a nuclear weapon. Exactly what constitutes a “nuclear weapons capability” and thus would trigger an attack has never been definitively defined.
But David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, argued that if capability is the redline, it had already been crossed. “They have that capability now,” he said. “And we’re living with it.”
Albright and Rademaker also disagreed about how long it would take Iran to build a nuclear weapon, if it decided to do so. Rademaker said Iran could build a nuclear weapon in just 35 and 106 days, an estimate that is much more alarmist than the estimates of the U.S. Intelligence Community. Albright responded that it would take up to a year to build a nuclear weapon if Iran made such a decision, and even longer to fit it onto a missile.
According to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, “The consensus is that, if [Iran] decided to do it, it would probably take them about a year to be able to produce a bomb and then possibly another one to two years in order to put it on a deliverable vehicle of some sort in order to deliver that weapon.”