Kathleen Parker

If life were a football game, we'd be commending Muslims for an artful fake.

While half the Muslim world was rioting in reaction to a few unremarkable cartoons - thanks to the fancy footwork of the anti-West Muslim Brotherhood - nuclear-minded Iran was making new kissy sounds with head cheerleader Fidel Castro.

In a little-noticed news item the same week as the riots, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accepted an invitation to visit Cuba in September to show gratitude for Castro's support of Iran's nuclear program. A few days earlier, Cuba, Venezuela and Syria had voted against the International Atomic Energy Agency's resolution to refer Iran to the UN Security Council over its nuclear program.

It is gratifying to see rogue states engaged in a group hug choreographed around the shared goal of bringing the U.S. to its knees, while sane nations busy themselves with debates about the ethics of publishing political cartoons.

While the Cuba visit itself may be of little consequence, the invitation offers a reminder that our Cuban neighbor is ceaselessly working to pursue anti-American foreign policy. It also offers a heads-up that Iran's nuclear aspirations may as well be Cuba's.

The Soviet Union's nuclear option vis-a-vis Nikita Khrushchev and a younger Fidel Castro seem suddenly quaint compared with the havoc that could result should Cuba and Iran consummate their mutual hatred of the U.S.

Iran and Cuba's romance isn't new, of course. Their courtship dates back to the late '70s, when the Ayatollah Khomeini rose to power. In recent years, the odd Islamic-Marxist couple has explored new expressions of affection to mutual benefit: Cuba gives Iran dual-use biotechnology, training and equipment; Iran provides oil to Cuba, as well as an annual $25 million trade credit.

Among Castro's proudest achievements is his Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIBG), a huge research and development enterprise in which he has invested much of his cash-strapped nation's resources and intellectual capital. While some of his shipments to Iran are surely to provide medical drugs for Iranians, skeptical observers suspect there's more than altruism at work.

Dr. Jose de la Fuente, who headed the biotechnology research and development at CIGB through most of the 1990s, wrote in the journal Nature Biotechnology (October 2001):

"There is no one who truly believes that Iran is interested in these technologies (solely) for the purpose of protecting all the children in the Middle East from hepatitis, or treating their people with cheap streptokinase when they suffer sudden cardiac arrest."

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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