I realized this years ago, when our European and Asian allies made it clear they would not support an oil embargo on Iran. That was the only measure, short of conquering the whole country, that really would have worked, and once we decided that we did not want the pain of a huge run-up in oil prices we effectively agreed to an Iranian bomb.
Bombing Iranian nuclear facilities would be worse than useless; it would not stop the program, it would solidify the currently unpopular government's hold on power, and it would make the Iranian people really angry. Aaron David Miller:
Striking Iranian nuclear sites is like mowing the grass. Unless a strike succeeded in permanently crippling the Iranian capacity to produce and weaponize fissile material, the grass would only grow back again. And no strike -- or even series of strikes -- can accomplish this. Iran's hardened sites, redundancy of facilities, and secret locations present significant obstacles to a successful attack. Even in the best-case scenario -- an incomplete strike that, say, set back the Iranian nuclear program by two to three years -- the Iranians would reseed it with the kind of legitimacy and urgency that can only come from having been attacked by an outside power. Self-defense would then become the organizing principle of Iran's nuclear program; it would resonate tremendously throughout the Middle East and even in the international community.So we are just going to have to get used to the idea of Iran with the bomb. I personally don't find that very disturbing. Like everyone else who has it, Iran would be very, very unlikely to use it unless they were in danger of being conquered by invaders. So as long as we don't invade them -- a good policy anyway -- no problem.