IT WOULD be both impossible and foolish to predict what lies immediately ahead for Iran. Will the United States or Israel drop bombs on the country? Will there be more sanctions? Air strikes? Negotiations? Threat assessment and war planning are (or at least should be) all about best-guessing capabilities and intentions. We need to make sound judgments about what a state can actually achieve, the leadership's possible goals and the prospects for a bridgeable peace among the main actors in the crisis.
When it comes to Iran, these calculations are difficult to make. The country is a chimera. Tehran's statements and intentions are often contradictory; displays of military strength juxtapose the proclamation of civilian use of nuclear technology; its capabilities are shrouded in secrecy; and its negotiating partners are at times volatile. Even still, there are some things we can-and must-figure out.
FIRST, WE do a run-through of the capabilities. We know that Tehran has a nascent nuclear program. We also know what it would take to develop a fully functioning nuclear-weapons capability. When we line up what we know and what we can best-guess, it looks like Iran is 80 percent of the way to a functioning nuclear weapon.