December 29, 2005
Despite U.S. Posturing, Iran Continues Headlong Path to Nuclear Brink
Dear Friend of FLAME:
President Bush recently reiterated the U.S. position clearly: We “cannot allow the Iranians to have the capacity to enrich” uranium, a key step in the development of nuclear weapons. Indeed, Iran’s avowed refusal to cease its nuclear weapons development or to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Commission surely make it the single biggest threat to Middle East stability and probably to world peace. But even more critically from our perspective, given the outspoken commitment of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinjad to “wipe Israel off the map,” this rogue nation now stands as the greatest threat to Israel’s very existence. Why then, as the first commentary below makes clear, does the Bush administration continue to waffle when in comes to reining Iran in? Actually, these comments were part of a letter sent out by Jonathan Missner, Director for National Affairs and Development at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). We include this analysis because it so powerfully makes the case for action against Iran now. At the end of this piece, you’ll find a link to AIPAC’s special website about new developments on the increasingly tense Iranian front. The second piece in this week’s Hotline is a short related news item about Iran’s recent treaty with Syria that you may not have seen. One can scarcely imagine two more dangerous or scurrilous players forming an alliance, but when you see the details of their devil’s bargain, I think you’ll be even more worried. It’s a dangerous world out there . . . and getting more so.
Iran's nuclear threat escalates—shouldn’t we respond now?
As you know, it was revealed back in 2002 that Iran had been running a clandestine nuclear program for nearly two decades. This, of course, came as no surprise to you or me—we've been concerned for years with Iran's determined effort to develop nuclear weapons. The news brought on a swarm of diplomatic action by the international community to ensure that the Iranian program was halted immediately. For a while, it looked like that's exactly what was happening. But something has drastically changed.
First, despite a rarely available majority at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors, the U.S. inexplicably decided NOT to push for a referral of Iran to the U.N. Security Council (a group that can impose crippling economic sanctions to stop Iran).
What's worse, the U.S. actually decided to support a Russian proposal that would allow Iran to proceed with the manufacturing of all but the final element necessary to create a nuclear weapon.
Iran is most certainly delighted at this unexpected turn of events, which represent an extremely serious and dangerous shift in U.S. policy. Not to sound melodramatic but I want you to understand the seriousness of the situation:
We're talking about the lives of millions of people here!
Iran is a non-nuclear member of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. As such, it must declare all nuclear facilities and activities on its soil. All of its nuclear activities have to be under the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Reality, however, has been very different.
Iran has been running a hidden nuclear program for more than 20 years. Here are just a few of the things they've kept secret:
...The list goes on and on and on!
Even after the program was made public in 2002, Iran continued to laugh in the face of the world – with no consequences for its actions. In December of 2003, during negotiations with the Europeans, Iran agreed to halt its conversion of uranium -- but never provided any proof that the process had even been slowed (much less stopped). Iran is doing whatever it wants with total impunity. In the last few months things have gotten progressively worse:
Yet, inexplicably, the U.S. failed to use a majority at the IAEA Board of Governors meeting and decided not to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council for economic sanctions, as if we had all the time in the world!
What are we waiting for? Just this month, Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the IAEA, said that Iran could be "months" away from having a nuclear weapon...IDF Chief of Staff Gen. Dan Halutz testified before the Knesset that Iran could be just three months away from a nuclear "point of no return!"
All the while, Iran doesn't even bother to hide its intentions for a nuclear device.
...President Mahmoud Ahmedinjad's stated goal is the destruction of Israel and a world without the U.S. (his words, not mine) ...Iran is defying the international community and continuing to convert uranium ...Iranian officials have come right out and said that they have the technology to get enriched uranium into spherical form (one of the last steps in creating a bomb) ... Iranian Shihab-3 missiles are capable of carrying a nuclear warhead anywhere within a range of 1,200 miles (this range includes Israel, parts of Europe as well as the 250,000 American troops in the Middle East).
You do the math...
To get the latest news and analysis about the Iran nuclear threat, visit AIPAC’s special website, “Decades of Deception: Iran’s Pursuit of Nuclear Weapons” at http://www.aipac.org/iran/newsBriefing.htm.
Syria Agrees To Hide Iran Nukes
LONDON - Syria has signed a pledge to store Iranian nuclear weapons and missiles.
The London-based Jane's Defence Weekly reported that Iran and Syria signed a strategic accord meant to protect either country from international pressure regarding their weapons programs. The magazine, citing diplomatic sources, said Syria agreed to store Iranian materials and weapons should Teheran come under United Nations sanctions.
Iran also pledged to grant haven to any Syrian intelligence officer indicted by the UN or Lebanon. Five Syrian officers have been questioned by the UN regarding the Hariri assassination, Middle East Newsline reported.
"The sensitive chapter in the accord includes Syria's commitment to allow Iran to safely store weapons, sensitive equipment or even hazardous materials on Syrian soil should Iran need such help in a time of crisis," Jane's said.
The accord also obligated Syria to continue to supply the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah with weapons, ammunition and communications. Iran has been the leading weapons supplier to Hizbullah, with about 15,000 missiles and rockets along the Israeli-Lebanese border.
The accord, negotiations of which began in 2004, was signed on Nov. 14 and meant to prepare for economic sanctions imposed on either Iran or Syria. Under the accord, Jane's said, Iran would relay financial aid to Syria in an effort to ease Western sanctions in wake of the UN determination that Damascus was responsible for the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Iran also pledged to supply a range of military aid to Syria. Jane's cited technology for weapons of mass destruction as well as conventional arms, ammunition and training of Syrian military.
Teheran would seek to upgrade Syrian ballistic missiles and chemical weapons systems. Under the accord, Iran would also be prepared to operate "advanced weapon systems in Syria during a military confrontation." Jane's said.
"The new strategic accord is based on the existing military MoUs (memorandums of understanding), with the addition of the sensitive chapter dealing with cooperation in times of international sanctions or military conflict," Jane's reported.
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