The Vice Presidential Debate: Consequential Statements on Iran (Download in PDF)
Iran’s progress towards a nuclear weapon requires three stages of development. First, Iran must enrich uranium from 20% up to greater than 90% purity. Second, Iran must develop a trigger mechanism to detonate a bomb. Third, Iran must have a delivery system for transporting the bomb, typically a long range missile system. To date, Iran has made significant progress towards enriching uranium, but progress on the missile system and trigger mechanism are believed to be not as advanced. The “red line” in this process is the point at which Iran’s nuclear program is on the verge of completing a nuclear bomb. Traditional views ascribe the “red line” as Iran’s ability to enrich uranium to weapons-grade level, because once this step occurs, the transition to a nuclear bomb is possible in a very short time period. For example, Israel’s Prime Minster, Benjamin Netanyahu, made a similar argument before the UN a few weeks ago—literally drawing a red line for Israeli military intervention at the 90% enrichment.
The Vice Presidential debate on October 11th between Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan illuminated their perspectives on the Iranian nuclear proliferation issue. Their comments anticipate how each Presidential candidate would handle foreign policy issues. When asked about the American “red line” for military intervention in the crisis, each candidate made contrasting statements. Viewers should consider the consequences of these statements, and look for clarification from President Obama and Candidate Romney during the upcoming October 22nd foreign policy debate. (more…)