Iran rejected last week a proposal by the E-3 (Britain, France, and Germany) that would have promised it all the uranium fuel it would need (and access to peaceful nuclear technology) provided it promised to return spent fuel rods so they could not be enriched for bomb making purposes.
News reports tell us that Iran is building a heavy-water reactor, ostensibly for peaceful purposes, that could be completed in as little as four years. Heavy-water reactors can use non-enriched uranium ore; the spent fuel can have weapons-grade plutonium extracted from it. Iran’s reactor could produce enough material for one bomb per year. The reactor site, by the way, is encircled by anti-aircraft guns – no doubt intended to stop the peaceful aircraft that may come to visit Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.
Iran’s move to reject the E-3’s too-generous proposal (which probably could and would have been cheated on) leaves no doubt that Iranian officials are lying when they say they want peaceful nuclear power – just as they lied when they assured us they were temporarily halting enrichment, and lied before that in claiming that they didn’t even have a nuclear program (which they kept secret for nearly two decades and revealed in 2003). Letting an evil government such as Iran’s get nuclear weapons would be catastrophic; do we doubt that such weapons would be sold to terrorists (or even used directly) to attack the US, Israel, the UK, and other targets?
We should stop offering Iran rewards for dropping its nuclear program. Iran has demonstrated that negotiations merely buy more time for the Iranian nuclear program, and that the Mullahs sign and break treaties indifferently. It is time to deliver an ultimatum (force is the only diplomat a tyranny respects). We should tell Iran: stop your nuclear program, or we will stop it for you.
Of course Iran will not accept this ultimatum, and the US with therefore have a chance to fulfill its responsibility to undo the damage the Carter administration allowed.
Iran’s government has admitted to hating the United States (“the Great Satan”). It believes that its policies run no risk. We ought to show Iran that this belief is false. Iran is ripe for a counter-revolution – the Islamic government is unpopular and its grip on power is tenuous. There are plenty of Iranians who would participate in such a revolution, but they need our help to get things started. We could use missile strikes to destroy the government’s communications network and plunge Iran into chaos. (And certainly the loss of Ayatollah Ali Hoseini-Khamenei or President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be no disaster). From this chaos would emerge a new popular government, friendly to the US (and without nuclear weapons).
A nuclear Iran would pose an unprecedented threat to the region and the world, and a democratic Iran could produce equally great benefits. This is a great opportunity, but it will take political guts (the rarest kind). We are living at a time when there is a solution to the Iran problem. Fomenting a popular revolution in Iran may not guarantee success, but doing nothing will guarantee failure. We must take on Iran now, while the solution still exists.