It has become an article of faith in certain circles that President Bush fought an unnecessary and ill-advised war with Iraq. Most of his critics believe that, instead of needlessly using military force to overthrow Saddam Hussein and to liberate his country, the President could instead have “internationalized” the problem.
Lest anyone actually think such an alternative course of action to the U.S.-led invasion was available – let alone a viable one, the United Nations and its International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have provided a helpful corrective with their response in recent days to Iran’s burgeoning nuclear weapons program.
In the past few months, it has become ever more clear that, under the leadership of its radical Islamic clerics, Iran has been beavering away for nearly two decades on a covert nuclear weapons program. It has done so in violation of that nation’s obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), according to which it was allowed to receive nuclear technology for peaceful purposes on condition that it promised not to divert such technology or otherwise to engage in weapons-related activities.
Nonetheless, defectors have revealed the existence of Iranian facilities that had not been disclosed to the IAEA, some of which are assumed to be intended for bomb-making. The IAEA itself has detected traces of highly enriched uranium that are consistent with covert production of weapons-grade materials needed for nuclear arms.
In addition, the Iranians have made no secret of their pursuit of long-range ballistic missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction – including nuclear ones – to Israel, other targets throughout the Middle East and, in due, course Europe and beyond.
The response of the so-called “international community” to the evident Iranian intention to go nuclear has been all too familiar. Just as it preferred to continue to express concern about – and occasionally to denounce – Saddam Hussein’s serial violations of the Gulf War cease-fire accords and successive UN resolutions, the IAEA wants very much to do nothing meaningful about Iran.
This fecklessness was on display last week in Vienna as the IAEA debated a lengthy report prepared by its inspectors. As the New York Times observed, the report “described in great detail Iran’s deceptions, including its attempt to use an exotic laser technology to enrich uranium.” The most hotly disputed portion of this report, however, was its contention that, “There is no evidence that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program.” As Groucho Marx famously put it, who are you going to believe – me or your own eyes?”
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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