Why Are We Still Diddling Around With Iran?
Iran’s leadership is working feverishly to develop nuclear weapons, and has been doing so for the past two decades. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei have repeatedly pledged to use whatever means they have at their disposal to wipe Israel off the map.
Just about everyone except Israel’s right-wing politicians and John McCain has been denying, distorting, or downplaying these hard truths for years. Even though the U.S. State Department has listed Iran as the biggest state sponsor of terror for decades, and even though evidence has been piling up that Iran is working to acquire weapons, President George W. Bush did nothing to encourage military strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities during his eight years in office, even after the attacks on 9/11. President Barack Obama is not likely to deviate from this course.
Israel has been undermining Iran’s progress via indirect channels, including deploying the sophisticated Stuxnet worm, which sabotaged Iran’s uranium enrichment centrifuges and set their capabilities back a year or two; and authorizing a covert assassination program to take out top Iranian nuclear scientists. These strategies have been helpful, but they only buy so much time. They are not enough to prevent Iran from succeeding at its ultimate goal. Economic sanctions are also not enough to halt Iran’s work.
The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is about to release its most detailed report yet documenting Iran’s secret nuclear weapon development at a site near Tehran called Parchin, its uranium enrichment at a facility in Natanz, and its installation of centrifuges at Qom. All of this activity has been going on, despite Iran’s lies that its technology will be used only to generate electricity.
The IAEA’s report includes evidence that Iran is in the final stages of assembling and deploying nuclear weapons, including developing an atomic bomb trigger device, altering long-range missile warheads to fit nuclear payloads, setting off test explosions, and running computer simulations of nuclear explosions. All of these experiments are, of course, just essential for the benign task of keeping Tehran’s hairdryers operating.
The IAEA’s unequivocal evidence incorporates satellite photographs and detailed plans obtained by U.S. spy services revealing technological expertise offered by nuclear states hostile to the U.S., including Russia, Pakistan, and North Korea. Iran has repeatedly denied UN requests to inspect Parchin to verify Iran’s putatively peaceful intentions and to interview Iran’s top nuclear scientists.
Despite the impending release of the IAEA’s report, the otherwise useless and softheaded agency is not expected to condemn Iran for its activities or directly accuse Iran of developing nuclear weapons. China and Russia, as permanent members of the UN’s Security Council, are likely to oppose new sanctions against Iran, never mind military strikes.
Recently Israel has been hinting at its intention to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. Any sane person who doesn’t want the craziest, most dangerous regime on the planet to have the most powerful, destructive weapons in the world in its arsenal should be cheering Israel’s attempt to prevent this Armageddon from arriving. Instead, most of the free nations of the world—to say nothing of its dictatorships, quasi-dictatorships, and communist states who loathe Israel and the U.S.—will likely scream hysterically if Israel launches so much as a spitball into Iran.
Liberals at home and abroad will cry that Iran is another Iraq, that Iran’s nuclear program is as apocryphal as Saddam Hussein’s stockpiles of WMDs. Regardless of the fact that there were legitimate reasons to go to war with Iraq besides weapons of mass destruction, the evidence of weapons development is much stronger for Iran than it was for Iraq. In addition, Iraq is a small fry compared to Iran, which has been channeling millions of dollars to terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza for decades.
Obama is not likely to do anything to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Certain Republican presidential candidates—i.e. Ron Paul—seem positively giddy over the possibility of Iran acquiring the means of defending itself against big, bad bullies like Israel. The U.S. must elect a candidate in 2012 who understands the threat Iran poses and is willing to say so repeatedly, unprompted, in interviews and debates.
In the meantime, Israel remains the U.S.’s front line in the war on terror. This means that Israel may fight some of our common enemies before these foes advance to our terrain—and that if we support Israel, we may spare ourselves American casualties.
But the longer this charade goes on of pretending Iran means what it says when it’s convenient—that they seek only peaceful uses for nuclear power—and doesn’t mean what it says when it’s inconvenient—that it doesn’t really want to destroy Israel—the more difficult it will be to destroy its nuclear facilities, and the more collateral damage will be racked up when the task is finally accomplished. Iran’s position strengthens the longer we wait. Iran’s mullahs are hoping to run out the clock.
The U.S., if it doesn’t have the will to take out Iran’s nuclear facilities, should at least provide any help it can—military, monetary, and moral—to Israel in its attempt to do so. This is an existential crisis that affects Israel’s ability to remain a viable state in the short-term—and the U.S.’s ability to remain a credible world power in the long-term.