Apr 4, 2006

Nuclear standoff: Iran’s rogue leader a threat to world peace

by David Ernest, Opinion Editor
Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, Americans have channeled the vast majority of their attention to the clandestine war on terror. Our enemies are groups of religious radicals who lurk in shadows until the perfect occasion to kill arises. However, a threat is emerging that is as openly ominous as possible. Its rhetoric can easily be matched with action, and it has the same stated intentions as what we commonly call terrorists: the destruction of America and Israel. The threat I speak of is Iran.

So what makes Iran such a threat? First, consider the publicly declared intentions of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Although the number of outlandish quotes is far too many to enumerate, they include “Death to America,” and  “The United States and Israel are cheeky humans, and they think that the entire world should obey them, They destroy Palestinian families and expect nobody to object to them.” It doesn’t end there as Ahmandinejad has pledged “Iran is ready to transfer nuclear know-how to the Islamic countries due to their need,” and that Israel is to be wiped off the map.

From these quotes, I believe the Iranian intentions can be clearly seen, but do they actually have the ability to act upon these vitriolic ambitions? Iran recently broke the IAEA seals on its nuclear reactors and has begun the process of enriching uranium. Tehran has maintained that this has been done solely for peaceful, civilian power uses. However, in the past several years the regime has quietly stepped up its efforts to acquire a nuclear warhead. Many officials now fear the rogue nation may be dangerously close to the development of a weapon.

The Mercury News reported through a diplomat on March 23 that Iran has assembled all of the planned 164 centrifuges, a key component to enrich uranium. The regime has had significant successes in operating smaller centrifuges, and if they are successful with the new ones, we could see a fully operational nuclear facility in a very short amount of time. Depending on the efficiency of these facilities, it is entirely possible for Tehran to produce enough enriched uranium for one nuclear weapon within a year.

It can hardly be argued that Iran doesn’t have the plan or isn’t close to developing a weapon that would forever change the face of the Middle East. One of America’s closest strategic allies is Israel. Unfortunately, the Jewish state has for many years been the object of Islamic wrath, and nuclear Iran would present an unprecedented hazard to Israel’s very existence. President Ahmandinejad proclaimed at a ‘World Without Zionism” seminar that, “They ask, Is it possible for us to witness a world without America and Zionism? But you had best know that this slogan and this goal are attainable, and surely can be achieved.”

These aspirations were furthered this week, as Foxnews.com reported that Iran had just successfully tested a stealth missile which can presumably evade American Patriot Missile defense systems. Even worse, the new missile named FAJR-3 holds multiple warheads, and as such, can strike multiple targets. Immediately, fears began to rise as to whether this new missile is capable of carrying nuclear—tipped warheads. At this time, very little information is available, but it serves as another warning sign that this is a self-interested regime with little regard for the international order.

It doesn’t stop there, as on Sunday, ABCNews.com reported that Iran is making public a successful test of a new torpedo the regime claims is “inescapable.” Very specific information was released, as the regime is attempting to keep program details under wraps, but they did say that test missile traveled 223 miles per hour. Although the United States is keeping itself well aware of Iranian maneuvers, the torpedo represents another step of defiance by the Iranian government, and a growing problem for the Middle East.

My goal in this article is not to drum up support for the next war. However, the United States will shortly find themselves in a sticky foreign policy situation that I believe could be on the same platform as the Cuban missile crisis. Our response must be hard so that the government understands that we will not back down, but we must not be too quick to war, as there is little doubt that if Iran has the capability to wage nuclear war, they will.

 Contact David Ernest at dwernest@liberty.edu.

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