Tuesday, January 17, 2006

We must stop the Iranians now..

From National Review: "Since the discovery of Iran’s clandestine nuclear program nearly three years ago, the West has been divided between two competing views. The first — associated with the United States, and especially with “hard liners” Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and John Bolton — was that the IAEA should immediately refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council. Proponents of this approach didn’t assume that a solution would be found in the U.N., but they saw a Security Council referral as a necessary step in demonstrating the seriousness of our resolve to block Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. During those fruitless negotiations, Iran revealed its true designs. If its sole aim were the peaceful production of nuclear power, nothing would have stopped it from accepting the deals Europe offered — which included, among other things, civilian nuclear technology. Instead, Iran refused to make even a single significant concession to the West, all the while issuing dark threats about the consequences of thwarting its “right” to a nuclear program. These provocations have recently been given emphatic punctuation by the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who holds that the Holocaust is a “myth” and has called for Israel to be “wiped off the map.” That — combined with Iran’s resumption of research on uranium enrichment — was too much for even Europe to stomach, and the EU-3 announced that negotiations had reached a dead end. In doing so, Europe fully vindicated the “hard line” position within the Bush administration: There is now a trans-Atlantic consensus that Iran cannot be trusted as a negotiating partner, and that its case must be taken up by the Security Council. The choice, Europe seems finally to have realized, is not between a nasty confrontation with Iran now and a negotiated solution later, but rather between a nasty confrontation with Iran now and a much nastier confrontation with Iran later. It is also unclear whether sanctions will be effective. Iran’s highly ideological regime may prove impervious to economic pressures, and it is even possible that sanctions could strengthen the regime by giving the mullahs a means of galvanizing opposition to the West. This seems unlikely, given that one of the Iranian dissident community’s chief complaints against the regime is that its actions have isolated Iran — a perception that economic sanctions are only likely to underscore. But in any case, we must confront the possibility that sanctions will not bring about the desired outcome. For that reason, military action cannot be forsworn. Critics of such a solution point out that Iran’s nuclear facilities are spread out over many locations, as though this were proof that any military campaign would be ineffective. But destroying Iran’s nuclear program would not require destroying every facility. The production of nuclear weapons involves a series of processes, from the mining of Uranium to its enrichment and weaponization to the eventual construction of warheads. Breaking the chain at any point along the way would incapacitate the program — and this is something that could probably accomplished through a vigorous round of air strikes. While we should hope that military action proves unnecessary, we must also understand that it becomes likelier to the very degree that Iran thinks it is unlikely and, accordingly, refuses to accede to Western demands. British foreign secretary Jack Straw’s recent comments ruling out the use of military force are therefore destructive to the interests of peace, as is any signal that the West has resigned itself to the advent of an Iranian nuclear age. President Bush has said repeatedly that the United States will accept no such thing. We take him at his word. For Iran — the world’s most incorrigible state sponsor of Islamic terrorism — to acquire nuclear weapons not only would increase the mullah’s nefarious sway in the region, but would also expose America and her allies to a potentially mortal danger. Iran quite simply must be stopped. That Europe appears to have moved toward this conclusion is cause for limited optimism. But it should in no way attenuate the sense of urgency we feel — or our will to act.

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