Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Iran and Uncertainty

The biggest news this week is the new National Intelligence Estimate that says CIA has "high confidence" Iran stopped trying to weaponize nukes in 2003.

Obviously, if true it's a good thing. But what if it's false? Or they re-started the program recently? Is it better for the civilized world to assume the worst or the best?

Privately, of course, each government needs to be prepared for the worst. But as we have seen, there is precious little we can actually do about the nuclear development, so the benefits to assuming the worst are slim.

Assuming the worst, however, does come with significant costs: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and possibly others in the region have decided they need to develop nukes to maintain the regional balance of power. If the common knowledge is that Iran is not working towards nukes, that will let the Arabs slow down, breathe easier - and keep the world safer for longer. And that's worth something.

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