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Iran's nukes: Not if, but when

By Alan Caruba
web posted September 6, 2004

If you want an object lesson in why Sen. Kerry's assertion that simply by working with our allies to solve threats to our nation and elsewhere around the world is wrong, wrong, wrong, I direct your attention to the nation of Iran.

Diplomacy is not working. The threat of United Nations sanctions is not working. Three nations, England, France and Germany have been meeting with the Iranian ayatollahs who run that nation and the result, as Washington Post columnist, Charles Krauthammer, recently noted was that "They have been led by the nose. Iran is caught red-handed with illegally enriched uranium and the Tehran Three prevail upon the Bush administration to do nothing while they persuade the mullahs to act nice."

These are not nice people. Just ask the 69 million Iranians who chafe under their oppression. These are the mullahs who took American diplomats hostage in 1979 and held them hostage for 444 days. They have been in a virtual state of war with both America and Israel ever since.

Even The New York Times has taken notice. On August 8, an article headlined "Diplomacy Fails to Slow Advance of Nuclear Arms" by David E. Sanger reported that none of the efforts involving European and Asian allies has managed to achieve anything with either Iran or North Korea. In the words of one unidentified administration official, the only option left is to "disrupt or delay as long as we can" Iran efforts to develop a nuclear weapon.

So it is not if they do, but when they do have nuclear weapons. And then it becomes not if, but when, the United States decides to remove this menace with a few well-placed bunker-buster bombs.

If the lessons of history are any indicator—and they always are—there is only one option left. Iran's nuclear facilities must be destroyed by military action. Or to put it another way, by preemption of its ability to begin producing nuclear weapons. One wonders what the critics of preemption, some of whom claim the US was "misled" into invading Iraq, will say about an Iran that acquires the ability to threaten their neighbors, destroy the entire nation of Israel, and possibly even threaten our cities with suitcase A-bombs.

For those who have short memories or none at all, Saddam Hussein was deterred from his own nuclear weapons program when, on June 7, 1981, Israeli F-15 and F-16 fighter-bombers took off from Etzion Air Base in the Sinai and destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor under construction. The French were building that reactor for the Iraqi dictator. Today, it is the Russians who are helping to build Iran's nuclear facilities.

Why would a nation that sits atop huge reserves of oil and has the second-largest natural gas reserves in the world after Russia need nuclear power to generate energy? The answer is they do not. The only reason for nuclear facilities is to acquire the ability to threaten its neighbors. Both Pakistan and India have such capabilities and they managed to scare each other so badly last year that even they have gotten together to defuse the situation.

Having a nuclear weapon and being willing to pay the price for using it are two different things. The problem with Iran, however, is that they work from the same playbook as Osama bin Laden. The ayatollahs would use these weapons, on missiles or delivered by some other means, to destroy their declared enemies. In the case of Iran, diplomacy has failed because you cannot cut a deal with lunatics who take their orders from Allah.

Complimenting or facilitating the outcome is the fact that the US now has a large number of its troops in Iraq and will for the foreseeable future. It has troops in other Middle Eastern nations as well. If Sen. Kerry is elected, he has promised to withdraw those troops as quickly as possible. For which, I'm sure, the Iranians are quite grateful. But not grateful enough to stop their efforts to acquire nuclear weapons that pose a direct threat to our nation.

Moreover, Israel is on record saying it will never permit Iran to reach the point where it can manufacture or deliver nuclear weapons. Attacking Iran, however, would be impossible without the tacit permission of the United States. There is no way the Israelis could send their bombers across Iraq to get at Iran's nuclear facilities without the US granting the access they'd need. It will not happen.

Which leaves the job to the United States of America. At some point after the election, assuming that President Bush is reelected, the preemptive option will have to be used. One scenario would be to first destroy North Korea's facilities as an object lesson. Is there an alternative? No. Diplomacy has failed. United Nations posturing has failed. And the threat is too real to ignore.

Alan Caruba writes a weekly column, "Warning Signs", posted on www.anxietycenter.com, the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center. © Alan Caruba 2004

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