While Moscow was busy dusting off its Cold War nuclear attack plans, Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency -- the United Nations' toothless "nuclear watchdog" -- told the U.N. Security Council that Iran has increased production of weapons-grade uranium and decreased cooperation with the IAEA. ElBaradei told the Financial Times that Iran will be able to enrich uranium on an industrial scale within six months.
The phrase "industrial scale" is diplo-speak for "sufficient to build nuclear weapons." U.S. and British intelligence agencies believe that much of the technology being used by Iranian engineers to construct 3,000 gas centrifuges to enrich uranium is being obtained from Moscow. In response to this frightening report, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations once again threatened to veto any resolution tightening sanctions on Tehran.
For their part, the lions in Iran have clearly stated their perspective on nuclear arms. In December 2001, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani publicly announced that a nuclear exchange "would not leave any thing in Israel, but the same thing would just produce (minor) damages in the Muslim world." Last week, after rejecting an offer for multi-party talks on stopping the production of fissile nuclear material, Iran's mercurial President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the United States of pursuing false peace initiatives while secretly plotting with Israel to "hit Islamic countries," presumably with nuclear weapons.
But Moscow and Tehran aren't just cooperating on weapons of mass destruction. Last week, U.S. and allied officials in Baghdad presented irrefutable evidence that Iran has been supplying advanced weaponry to anti-coalition forces and killing Americans -- charges Ahmadinejad describes as "excuses to prolong the stay" of U.S. forces in Iraq.
On Wednesday, Iraqi terrorists downed another U.S. helicopter -- the eighth in the last five weeks. A U.S. commander on the ground told me that "nearly new SA-14 and SA-16 man-portable surface-to-air missiles are now being used against us" in Iraq. Source of the weapons: Russia -- sold to Iran and slipped across the porous border for delivery to Iranian-supported terror cells inside Iraq. Cooperation between the bear and the lion, indeed.
Meanwhile, there is no "Eagle-Eye" on this burgeoning Moscow-Tehran nexus of evil. Our mainstream media remains fixated on the never-ending Anna Nicole Smith soap opera. The State Department is furiously cranking out press releases on how Condi is going to convene yet another "Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process." And the navel-gazers in Congress busy themselves by doing all things possible to damage the commander-in-chief, regardless of the consequences to our troops.
Those who think none of this matters should consider the comments of Iran's "Supreme Spiritual Guide." After meeting this week with Syrian President Bashar Assad, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the leading "lion" in Tehran, said Bush's position "is so weak that even members of his own party criticize him." It's time for the eagle to pull his head out of the sand.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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