IRAN'S NUKE NEWS SHOWS THE DANGER
OF TRUSTING THE IRANIAN REGIME
By Dr. Michael Rubin
In a statement on December 4, 2007, U.S. Senator Joseph Biden (Democrat - Delaware), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chastised President George W. Bush, saying his "actions are doubly dangerous because they undercut the cooperation we need from other countries for dealing with the real problems Iran continues to pose."
But Senator Biden and all those who echo his thinking are wrong. In reality, the NIE shows just how costly diplomacy can be when it isn't reinforced by strong sanctions and the credible threat of military force.
The NIE time line clearly describes the elaborate deception that occurred during the term of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's predecessor, Mohammad Khatami, when Iran tried to build a nuclear bomb. It proves Iran was cheating, even as well-meaning American diplomats believed promises that it was cooperating with the international community.
On August 4, 1997, Khatami declared, "We are in favor of a dialogue between civilizations and a detente in our relations with the outside world." European diplomats, American academics, and even Secretary of State Madeleine Albright applauded him. European statesmen opened palaces to him, and the Iranian President became the toast of Rome, Paris and London.
In fact, to encourage Khatami's promises of reform, the European Union nearly tripled its trade with Iran, and the Islamic Republic reaped a windfall. But, rather than integrate itself into the family of nations, Khatami and the theocratic leadership he served invested the money in a covert quest for the bomb.
The NIE proves, once and for all, that all of Khatami's talk of dialogue and reform was little more than a smoke screen.
And let's not forget: U.S. Senators Arlen Specter (Republican - Pennsylvania.) and Joseph Biden were the Iranian President's chief cheerleaders on Capitol Hill. They may have been well intentioned, but, by caring more about what the Iranian leadership said than what it actually did, they became useful idiots for the Islamic regime. Like their European counterparts, they trusted too much and verified too little.
International Atomic Energy Agency reports confirm the depth of Iranian subterfuge. While Iranian leaders said their program was for peaceful uses, in 2003, inspectors found traces of uranium metal, an element important in nuclear weapons development but not in a civilian energy program, in their centrifuges. A year later, the IAEA found Iran experimented with polonium-210, an element used to start the chain reaction leading to the detonation of a nuclear bomb.
Just last month, IAEA Director Mohamed ElBaradei revealed Iran had a blueprint for a nuclear warhead provided by disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan during a visit to Tehran in the 1990s.
It is this episode, more than any other, that effectively renders the latest NIE moot. Perhaps 16 U.S. intelligence agencies now assert Iran cannot build a bomb until at least 2010. But they all assume Tehran's program is indigenous. That's a dangerous assumption, indeed. While Iranian minders usher the IAEA through the regime's declared facilities, the Revolutionary Guard could simply buy nuclear fuel or components from rogue scientists in Russia, Pakistan, or Libya. The September, 2007, revelation that North Korea likely supplied the Syrian government with a nuclear plant underlines this concern.
On December 4, Bush declared, "The NIE doesn't do anything to change my opinion about the danger Iran poses to the world -- quite the contrary." Other politicians should learn from their mistakes and not, as Biden and his colleagues now counsel, prepare to repeat them.
The Middle East & the Problem of Iran
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Dr. Michael Rubin, a Ph.D. in History (Yale University) and a specialist in Middle Eastern politics, Islamic culture and Islamist ideology, is Editor of the Middle East Quarterly and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. Dr Rubin is author of Into the Shadows: Radical Vigilantes in Khatami's Iran (Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2001) and is co-author, with Dr. Patrick Clawson, of Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005). Dr. Rubin served as political advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad (2003-2004); staff advisor on Iran and Iraq in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense (2002-2004); visiting lecturer in the Departments of History and International Relations at Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2001-2002); visiting lecturer at the Universities of Sulaymani, Salahuddin, and Duhok in Iraqi Kurdistan (2000-2001); Soref Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (1999-2000); and visiting lecturer in the Department of History at Yale University (1999-2000). He has been a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, the Leonard Davis Institute at Hebrew University, and the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs.
The foregoing article by Dr. Rubin was originally published in the New York Daily News, December 5, 2007, and can be found on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum, a think tank which seeks to define and promote American interests in the Middle East, defining U.S. interests to include fighting radical Islam, working for Palestinian Arab acceptance of the State of Israel, improving the management of U.S. efforts to promote constitutional democracy in the Middle East, reducing America's energy dependence on the Middle East, more robustly asserting U.S. interests vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia, and countering the Iranian threat.
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