Iran: Quick Electoral Update and a (Nuclear) Question

Did you know Iran has an election coming up on June 12? It’s amazing the things you learn sitting in a coffee shop, browsing electronic headlines and pretending to be an intellectual. (Drinking your coffee black enhances the illusion image.)

Iran’s elections have a history of surprises, with unknown candidates suddenly ending as victors. [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad’s challengers are backed by a coalition of prominent Muslim clerics and veteran Iranian politicians who oppose Ahmadinejad’s policies both at home and abroad, turning this election into an unusually stark confrontation between two political factions with opposing views of the future of Iran.
Ahmadinejad’s main challengers advocate better relations with the United States. They promise to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program will have strictly peaceful purposes, and they say the Holocaust should not be an issue in Iranian politics.

In fact, on the subject of Israel, one opponent put forward this bit of concise reasoning.

“Ahmadinejad’s comments on the Holocaust were a great service to Israel,” Mehdi Karroubi, a cleric and the most outspoken opposition candidate, told a group of students in April. “What has happened that we now have to support Hitler?”

Indeed, an excellent question.
Even if President Ahmadinejad’s most “dove-like” opponent prevails in June, there is, of course, no guarantee that Iran’s nuclear program will remain devoted to the benign generation of energy. This is not a personal criticism of any candidate. One thing that politicians around the world seem to have in common is the apparent difficulty of enacting all promises made on the campaign trail. This leads to the question, which pops into my head every time a commentator advocates, usually with some urgency, that the nuclear programs of both North Korea and Iran be stopped.
Short of the serious territorial breach, reportedly contemplated by Israel against Iran, of bunker busting bombs propelled by either planes or missiles, how do we accomplish this?
Cash diplomacy has been referenced in another comment thread. But this is complicated by issues of sanity: in the first instance, an actual madman; in the second, someone prepared to act like a madman for puposes of domestic politics. In short, the US could not count on the bribee staying bribed.
The dangers of such a situation are difficult to argue away and only more so with the missile launch Wednesday. The bigger issue is, how do we disassemble it without resorting to a jackhammer and the considerable – make that massive – direct and collateral damage it would wreck?

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