Steven Simon was the featured speaker at an Open Forum presented by The Center for Law and Security (CLS) on December 8. Simon, an expert in Middle Eastern studies and former State Department and White House official, discussed the newly published book that he co-authored, The Sixth Crisis: Iran, Israel, America, and the Rumors of War.

The book assesses the prospect of military action to head off Iranian development of nuclear weapons. “You’ve got a conflict shaping up that looks a lot like the conflict that was shaping up between the U.S. and Iraq in the 1990s,” Simon noted. At the Open Forum, he fielded questions from CLS Senior Research Fellow Robert Windrem, as well as audience members. Among topics on which he offered views were:

• The likelihood of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear installations: Low for the next year, but “fairly high” after that.
• The Stuxnet virus that sabotaged Iranian centrifuges: “It suggests that there are a lot of ways short of war that you can make the Iranian program asymptotic -- that is to say that you can make it into a program that keeps making progress, but never gets there.”
• The efficacy of trade sanctions: “A convincing simulacrum of effective action.”

Watch the full discussion (1 hr 16 min):

Published December 14, 2010