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Iran’s nuclear plans – a ticking time bomb


Miami Herald – If nothing else, the rantings of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have erased whatever doubt may have existed about the dangers posed by a nuclear-armed Iran. Ever since the former mayor of Tehran was elected to head the country in mid-2005, he has repeatedly displayed open hostility toward the West, and Israel in particular. It’s time for other nations to join the United States in a campaign to block Iran’s drive to speed up its nuclear-development program.
Ignorance and hostility
Clearly, time is running out. This week, the head of Israel’s Mossad overseas intelligence service, Gen. Meir Dagan, said Iran will be able to build an atom bomb within two years. Left unhindered, he told a committee of the Knesset, Iran will be independent ”in terms of nuclear technological material.” After that, producing a bomb is a straightforward technical process. His warning should prod the international community to make it an immediate priority to stop Iran’s determined efforts to produce nuclear weapons.
Iran’s confrontational approach was cast by Mr. Ahmadinejad’s fiery speech to the U.N. General Assembly in September. This 29-minute rant consisted mainly of anti-American rhetoric. In October, he declared ”Israel must be wiped off the map.” Later, he said that Israel should be moved to Europe, and he labeled the Nazi Holocaust “a myth.”
This display of ignorance and hostility should convince the most skeptical audience that this is not someone to be reasoned with. Nor can Iran’s insistence that it wants nuclear technology only for peaceful purposes be believed.
For one thing, Iran has repeatedly violated or tried to skirt its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. It has also sought, and probably obtained, illicit nuclear technology on the black market, and it consistently has stalled the multination talks on inspection and control of its nuclear facilities.
The Bush administration has rightly pursued multilateral negotiations with Iran under the umbrella of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency. That process has resulted in many of the troubling disclosures about Iran’s nuclear program, and no doubt will yield more.
Defuse this bomb
The administration should also work to convince other countries — India and Brazil, for example — to join in a sanctions campaign. This effort would include trade and aid restrictions, and a penalty for countries that help Iran’s nuclear-energy program.
The cooperation of China and Russia — or at least an agreement not to help Iran — is indispensable if the world is going to succeed in defusing this ticking time bomb. Reining in Iran’s nuclear program is in the interest of every peaceful country in the world.