George W. Bush and Barack Obama, for whatever reasons, did not attack Iranian nuclear sites.
George W. Bush and Iran
During Bush presidency, the US had over 250 K troops plus thousands of logistics surrounding Iran when International atomic energy agency (IAEA) found out about Natanz and Fordow nuclear sites, which were located deep in the mountains. Also, once Bush rejected Iran’s offer to fully halt its enrichment by calling Iran the axis of evil, Iran also rejected IAEA inspectors. One would say, things could not be any better for the US to attack Iran. Despite all that, the US and Israel did not attack Iran.Barack Obama and Iran
Barack Obama and Iran
When Obama was in office, Iran was preoccupied in Syria and was dealing with sanctions for the first time to that level. The US had plenty of time to attack Iran at the first round of Obama presidency but they still didn’t although they knew Iran was improving significantly in making advance centrifuges. That was the last good chance for the US to strike Iran, but they did not attack Iran even though Iran had enough enriched uranium to make at least 8 nuclear bombs according to Javad Zarif in an interview with Charlie Rose in 2015.
Now in 2018, the geopolitics of the middle east is different. Iran has huge influence throughout the middle east and beyond. It is no longer Iran that is surrounded by the US and its allies but rather Iran and its friends that have surrounded the US and its allies. The US and its allies are very vulnerable to Iran. If the US did not attack Iran then, it is very hard to imagine that they attack Iran now. Iran also has something that they almost never had and that is international support. This means It’s very hard for the US to create a coalition against Iran in the case of Iraq-like invasion.
On the military point of view
The US military strategists can plan the attack on nuclear sites fairly easily considering the capabilities of US air-force. But the real issue that they worry is their next move when Iran targeted their forces throughout the region with their ballistic missiles, which some of them has shown to have 100% accuracy or when hundreds of their troops were prisoned in Iraq and etc. Is the US ready to organise 250k troops to wage a full-scale war on Iran?! Is Trump ready to destroy his presidency by waging another unnecessary war in the middle east?!
A sensible mind would see these points, but the current US administration has not really acted based on logic and reasons and this is why some analysts fear that if Iran resumes its nuclear activities like before it is highly likely that Trump would start a war. However, to call the current administration of the US simply unreasonable to make a specific assumption that could predict the future is unwise. Waging a war is a very different kind of unreasonableness than exiting the nuclear deal or not believing on global warming. To start a war on Iran means the US has to spend an enormous amount of resources, it means a damage to the economy, something that Trump as a businessman is really trying to avoid. Trump doesn’t even want the troops to stay in Syria and wants them back. Trump has always complained about the meaningless wars in the middle east.
In a perfect conversation between Trump and Pentagon regarding the attack on Iran nuclear sites, Trump is very unlikely to order the strike in my opinion since Pentagon has shown to be quite sincere by not letting politics to get involved in their work. The only way, the US and Iran might collide is if “USS Liberty incident” repeats in one form or another. This scenario, unfortunately, is quite likely since people like John Bolton, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Pompeo are the ears of the President.
Iran has not made any effort to avoid the restriction it accepted under the joint comprehensive plan of action or JCPOA, unlike the common belief. Although the predominant explanation implies that the EU is the reason why Iran has stayed in the deal, it is fair to think that the “USS liberty incident type scenario” and other types of miscalculations is partly why the Iranian government has not rushed into enriching uranium like before the deal was signed.