The BBC ran a feature on how a military strike against Iran's nuclear weapons programme would cause Iran to get the bomb sooner rather than later by not destroying all of Iran's facilities, providing the regime with increased political support, and fostering a determination to pursue a "crash" programme.
Never mind that Tehran is a dictatorship where domestic support is irrelevant, that it's a bit difficult to make a crash programme crashier, or that knocking out key parts of a nuclear programme (such as the tyrants running the country) can be as effective as taking out the whole sheebang; what I found interesting was the prominence the BBC gave to the views of Dr. Frank Barnaby, who the Beeb describes as "a respected British nuclear weapons scientist", though neglecting to mention that he hasn't worked in the field in nearly fifty years or that he's on the staff of the CND-ish, anti-war Oxford Research Group. In fact, the ORG isn't even obliquely mentioned until paragraph 23. Not exactly thorough reporting there.
The BBC includes this interesting history lesson regarding strikes against rogue nuclear states:
The US has examined the possibility of military strikes on other countries' nuclear facilities in the past.One would think so. Not surprisingly, the BBC asserts that the strike against Iraq produced a bizarre, yet unproven, boost to the Saddam's nuclear programme, which was suddenly dismantled for some reason in 1991 that the BBC seems reluctant to explore (*cough* Gulf War *cough*). Neither do they seem very interested in the outcome of the three episodes:
It came closest in 1994, when a White House meeting discussing whether to strike North Korea was interrupted by news of a possible deal over the country's nuclear programme.
The option of military strikes against Pakistan's Kahuta plant were also examined in the late 1970s but ruled out because the chances of success were rated too low when compared to the consequences of going ahead.
But there is one important precedent for an attack on nuclear facilities.
In June 1981, eight Israeli fighter jets took only 90 seconds to destroy Iraq's Osirak reactor in an audacious bombing raid. It is sometimes cited as a precedent for a US or Israeli (or joint) attack on Iran, but is it really a useful parallel?
- No strike against North Korea: North Korea gets the bomb.
- No strike against Pakistan: Pakistan gets the bomb.
- Strike against Iraq: No Iraqi bomb.