Gates: No Long-Term Iran Plan

In a secret memo to top White House officials, Defense Secretary Robert Gates warns that the U.S. has no long-term policy for handling Iran's nuclear program as it continues to progress, The New York Times reports. The memo has sparked intense work in the Pentagon, White House, and among intelligence agencies to come up with new strategies for the president if sanctions and diplomacy fail to discourage Iran from building the bomb. Gates warned that the administration has no strategy to deal with a likely scenario: Iran builds all the main parts of a nuclear weapon but does not assemble them, thereby becoming a "virtual" nuclear state while still abiding by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Officials have said that there is a line that Iran will not be allowed to cross—acquiring nuclear capability, which would come before the creation of an actual weapon. But Gates is worried American intelligence agencies will miss signs that Tehran is close to producing a bomb. Officials said the memo was a "wakeup call," though others disagreed with that description and said the Obama administration had been working on an Iran policy for 15 months.