Moscow's Mad Gamble
But they wouldn't--and didn't. The Europeans have sincerely, if naively, tried to stop the process of uranium enrichment because they know that when Iran learns to make enough uranium hexafluoride, it will finally be at the "point of no return," meaning it could prevent the possibility of outside intervention.
Equally revealing--and deeply disturbing--is the fact that Russia, under Putin, has encouraged Iran to tough it out with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The agency has only persuasive power, but Russia has refused to condemn Iran's nuclear work and resists American and European efforts to force the issue at the U.N. Security Council, which could impose economic sanctions.
Russia has even bolstered Iran's ability to resist military intervention by confirming a deal to sell TOR-M1 surface-to-air missiles, the most advanced system available, which uses launchers to shoot down multiple targets like missiles and planes.
Some argue that bringing pressure on Iran weakens the moderates there. What moderates? And just who's prepared to gamble on that kind of wishful thinking? Military action, such as bombing the Iranian plants with cruise missiles and strike aircraft, would be justified in the circumstances. But that is hugely difficult politically, and covert action is very difficult operationally.
Still, the risks may have to be taken because the alternative is so awful. There may now be a window of opportunity for effective preventive action, but this window is more likely to be measured in months than years.
We must urgently find a way to persuade Moscow to reinforce the civilized world rather than subvert it.