Nuclear Iran: Our Greatest Failure?

It seems that each day the news brings us fresh reports of the progress of Iran’s weapons programs. The latest reports indicate Iranian advancements in medium range ballistic missiles (MRBMs), including the employment of underground silos and nuclear-capable missile warheads.

This is ominous because if there is one nation on earth that we do not want to acquire nuclear weapons or the ability to deliver them, that nation is Iran.

Nevertheless, for the better part of 20 years, the West, especially the U.S., has sat by and merely watched as Iran has moved forward with advancements in weaponry, all the while waging a clandestine war against us.

Iran is the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, having been caught red-handed shipping arms to terrorists in Israel, insurgents in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Iran is the one nation on earth that has provided aid to all of these major terrorist organizations: Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

In short, Iran is at war with the West, a war that they are currently waging by proxy. It makes no sense to allow such an enemy state to acquire the world’s most dangerous and lethal weaponry. Unfortunately, that is just where we appear to be headed.

Future generations will pay a terrible price for our intransigence and failure to effectively contain this menace.

At the very least, an Iran armed with nuclear weapons will have a freer hand with which to promote and sponsor terror around the globe. At worst, Iran could become the ultimate Jihadist warrior state, unbowed by mutually assured destruction and deterrence.

Of course, some in the West are still in denial that Iran is building nuclear weapons. The Washington Post, for instance, still insists on pointing out that Iran denies that its nuclear program is a weapons program, each and every time it publishes an article on the subject. Many Americans are all-too willing to give the Ayatollahs in Tehran the benefit of the doubt that their nuclear program is for peaceful energy purposes. Assuming the best of intentions from a belligerent power could one day prove fatal to many Americans.

The problem, of course, is that the available evidence indicates that nuclear weaponry is exactly what Iran is after, not energy.

First and foremost, Iran’s activity to produce highly enriched uranium in defiance of UN resolutions is not necessary for a peaceful energy program. But also consider statements from Iranian and other world leaders from the 1980s and 1990s when Iran’s nuclear program was just beginning to make news; these statements came before there was widespread scrutiny of Iran’s activities and the ayatollahs had reason to fear that they could be targeted as a result. It was only after some observers in the West began to sound the alarm about the Iranian nuclear program that the Iranians clammed up…

  • In February 1987, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini uttered these words in a speech before his country’s Atomic Energy Organization: “Regarding atomic energy, we need it now. Our nation has always been threatened from the outside. The least we can do to face the danger is to let our enemies know that we can defend ourselves. Therefore, every step you take here is in defense of your country and your revolution. With this in mind, you should work hard and at great speed.”

  • An even more overt statement came a year later. In a broadcast over Tehran radio in October 1988, the then-speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani 
made this chilling declaration that called for the development of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons: “We should fully equip ourselves both in the offensive and defensive use of chemical, bacteriological and radiological weapons.”

After Iran’s nuclear program began to grow and the Iranians began to seek the assistance of foreign sources, such as Russia, Red China, Pakistan, and North Korea, denials about their quest for nuclear weapons started surfacing.

But there is simply no getting around the fact that the scope and size of Iran’s nuclear program has always been way beyond what one would reasonably expect from an oil-rich nation. Between 1988 and 1995, Iran started construction on no fewer than 15 nuclear facilities. That is the kind of active program that one would expect from a country in a severe energy crisis–or one that is hell-bent on having nuclear weapons.

More evidence of Iranian nuclear intentions surfaced during the 1990s. German and French security officials reported that, from 1992 to 1995, they foiled several attempts by Iranian intelligence agents to purchase equipment needed to create an atomic bomb.

The clearest evidence spilled out in January 1995 in a nuclear deal signed between Iran and Russia. After the U.S. strongly protested the agreement, Russian President Boris Yeltsin acknowledged that the agreement did in fact contain a military “component” and he announced that he was voiding that portion: “But it is true that the contract does contain components of civilian and military nuclear energy. Now we have agreed to separate those two. In as much as they relate to the military component and the potential for creating weapons grade fuel and other matters–the centrifuge, the construction of shafts–we have decided to exclude those aspects from the contract.”

There are still more reports…

Then-Ukrainian President Leonid Kucha was quoted as saying that Iran was seeking help from his nation to build nuclear weapons: “We need oil from Iran because Russia is strangling us. We have no intention of responding to the repeated request by the Iranians to share with them know-how on nuclear weapons, or to sell them any equipment in this field.”

Such statements make Iranian claims that they do not desire to have nuclear weapons appear to be bald-faced lies.

Despite all this evidence, as well as Iran’s support for terrorism, three successive U.S. administrations have sat by and watched as Iran’s nuclear program progressed.

In fact, official statements from US government officials going back as far as 17 years indicate that we have known the true nature of Iran’s nuclear program for some time, but chose to ignore it.

In January 1994, Undersecretary of State for International Security, Lynn Davis, told USA Today that “Iran’s actions leave little doubt that Tehran is intent upon developing nuclear weapons capabilities.” Davis went on to say that “Iran’s nuclear acquisitions are inconsistent with any rational civil nuclear program.”

For 17 years, Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama have all taken half-hearted measures to attempt to discourage Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

To this day, the Iran Sanctions Act has never been fully enforced. In reality, the states have taken more positive action to pressure Iran economically than the US federal government has. Since 2007, dozens of state pension systems have been ordered to divest themselves of investments in companies with significant involvement in Iran’s cash cow: their oil and gas sector.

But all of this is beginning to seem too little too late. America’s elected leaders have never been truly committed to keeping Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

We are left to only pray that our children are not forced to pay a terrible price for what may eventually be considered our greatest failure as a generation.

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