Policy makers and experts addressing the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee(AIPAC) conference on March 2-4, 2014, consistently expressed opposition against Iranian nuclear weapons proliferation. Such unanimity, though, could not conceal widespread conference skepticism about President Barack Obama's administration effectively meeting this danger.
"You know that I like to draw lines, especially red ones," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahujoked during his March 4 closing address in reference to his Sept. 27, 2012, United Nations speech.
At AIPAC, though, Netanyahu wanted to "draw a clear line...between life and death," vowing that Jews would "never be brought to the brink of extinction again." "There is unanimity" in Israel concerning Iran as "clearly the most dangerous threat" to Israel and beyond, Israeli Labor Partyhead Isaac Herzog likewise stated on the conference's opening day.
Yet a "nuclear Iran in the near future" appears likely to Ros-Lehtinen. The Iranian economy has gone "from despair to hope" with 4-5 percent growth predicted by 2016, noted Foundation for the Defense of the Democracies analyst Mark Dubowitz appearing alongside Landau. Businesses have undergone a "shift from fear to greed" concerning entering Iran's "huge...extremely lucrative market," meaning the "sanctions regime is already eroding." Obama Administration actions in places like Syria have meanwhile "significantly degraded" any military option's credibility. Newer, faster centrifuges will concurrently allow Iran in the future to develop clandestinely nuclear weapons in relatively small facilities.
"Iran is not a Middle Eastern problem, Iran is a global problem," warned Dubowitz's fellow panelist Ilan Berman from the American Foreign Policy Council. The "Iranians are over here," Berman noted while discussing with Dubowitz Iranian terror networks reaching into Latin America and attempting strikes in the United States. Nuclear weapons will mean "more of what you see now" in Iranian aggression such as supporting Hezbollah. Landau, though, argued that any Iranian nuclear attack on Israel would be "very stupid" given Israeli retaliation and that Iran already "can do so many things" against Israel.
The "proliferation cascade" following Iranian proliferation cited by Berman could extend beyond the Middle East to Asia, Dubowitz noted, where Japan is the "turn of a screw" away from a nuclear weapon. "A much larger target set later" of nuclear-armed Middle East states all hostile to Israel following Iranian proliferation, Berman meanwhile observed, might make Israeli preemption against Iran appealing. The Iran crisis had only a "modest chance" for a "peaceful resolution," Sen. John McCain concluded on March 3.