By Boston Herald editorial staff
Iran’s drive to build a nuclear bomb has reached the point where President Bush should lay the facts of the coming crisis before the American people and draw a line in the sand for Iran.
If the president is serious that an Iranian bomb would be “a grave threat to the security of the world,” the odds are that he may well have to destroy several of Iran’s nuclear facilities by military attacks. It’s now time to warn Iran openly. It’s also time to start building the public support he will need.
On the other hand, if the president is not willing to attack, but is content to rely on economic sanctions at the United Nations Security Council, that’s a different line in the sand, and he should say so. He should say so, and why he believes that strategy would work – and what comes next if it fails, which also is likely.
He should say clearly what real sanctions mean: first, a huge run-up in oil prices as Iran, the world’s forth-largest producer, likely cuts shipments, and second, a massive campaign among Iraq’s Shiite Muslims, led by their fellow Shiites from Iran, to mount a second insurgency against American forces in Iraq.
The president also needs to point out that China, which now buys natural gas from Iran, likely would exercise its Security Council veto.
Iran’s recent resumption of “scientific” nuclear work had the welcome result of prompting the European countries – with whom it had been negotiating – to refuse further talks. They are now lining up with the United States to prepare a referral of the case to the Security Council in time for the Feb. 2 meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Iran proposed restarting the talks but was rebuffed.
The regime in Tehran, which still has seen nothing from the West for more than two years except vacillation, obviously counts on talking until it mounts warheads on its missiles. And that truly would put the rest of the civilized world at risk.