While such measures appear helpful to the goal of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, the U.N.-endorsed financial sanctions have had no apparent effect on the ayatollahs' atomic aspirations thus far. Further, diplomats gathering in advance of this month's annual United Nations General Assembly gabfest in New York are grumbling that it is far from certain that the U.N. will take action against insurers of vessels calling on Iranian ports. And of course, all of this is moot if China and Russia continue to do "business as usual" with Tehran.
The Chinese, wedded to an unimpeded flow of Iranian oil on the world market, are unlikely to back tougher sanctions against Iran in the Security Council. In Moscow, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, angered by the prospect of U.S. anti-ballistic missile defenses in Eastern Europe, is looking for ways to counter American military superiority. This week, he dispatched two Russian air force Tu-160 strategic bombers on a "training mission" to Venezuela. He also promised Hugo Chavez, the Marxist despot ruling in Caracas, that Russian navy units will take part in an exercise in the Caribbean. Putin already had agreed to sell advanced Russian air-defense systems to Iran and Syria.
We know that Russian scientists and engineers built the Iranian nuclear reactor at Bushehr and that the regime in Tehran has an apocalyptic vision of a confrontation with the West. What we don't know is what new steps the Kremlin may take to accelerate Iran's nuclear program.
If the 9/11 attacks are evidence of anything besides the suicidal animus of Islamic radicals toward the U.S., they are also proof that what we don't know can be very dangerous. What we already know about the Iranian nuclear program is frightening enough. What we don't know about it is downright terrifying. Taking steps to stop Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons should not have to wait until a new administration takes over in January. Dr. Kay is right when he says, "It's got to be our No. 1 priority, not the 'nice to do' if we can get around to it."
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.