The options for using diplomacy to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons are running out. Unless the international community acts quickly and decisively, the world's chief terrorist state will soon possess the greatest weapon of terror ever created.
We can take a critical first step on February 2, at an emergency session of the member states on International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors. There, they will consider referring Iran to the United Nations Security Council for condemnation and well-deserved sanctions. Unfortunately, there is no other way to get Iran's attention than to have the Security Council brand it as a nuclear pariah.
What is the danger of a nuclear Iran? Tehran sponsors terrorism as state policy, funding numerous groups that murder and maim the innocent, among them American citizens. Imagine this terrorist state, which actively supports groups such as Hezbollah and HAMAS, armed with nuclear weapons. Even if it did not put these destructive materials up for sale, a nuclear-armed Iran would terrorize and destabilize the entire Middle East.
Terrorist-in-Chief Ahmadinejad himself advocates "wiping Israel from the map." Other countries already threatened by Iran, such as Saudi Arabia - whose Foreign Minister absurdly has blamed the West for Iran's nuclear criminality -- would undoubtedly pursue their own nuclear options, if they haven't already.
Iran has flouted every nuclear safeguards agreement and reneged on every commitment it has made. The IAEA has documented that Iran acquired designs, equipment, and facilities to produce nuclear-weapons-grade uranium and plutonium from the same nuclear black-market that supplied Libya, and experimented with trigger material for a nuclear bomb. There is every reason to believe that Tehran has acquired actual bomb blueprints, as Libya did.
After Iran's 18 years of deception and lies to the IAEA about its nuclear activities, and over two years of Iranian bad faith in talks with three European nations to find a diplomatic solution - and despite Tehran' crude but hollow threats to retaliate against states voting against them -- the IAEA Board of Governors last September finally declared Iran to be in "noncompliance" with its international commitments to use nuclear energy solely for peaceful purposes.
Since then, Iran has reneged on its remaining empty assurances to negotiate in good faith with Britain, France and Germany by breaking international seals on its uranium enrichment facility, and has flatly rejected an offer by Russia to host an enrichment facility on its own territory. These talks were ill-fated from the start, owing in large measure to the imbalance in negotiating leverage in Iran's favor.
Ahmadinejad, in a rare moment of lucidity, revealed Tehran's view in this regard: "The West needs us more than we need them." With billions of dollars of Western investment in its oil and gas fields off the table, why would the offer of some lesser additional trade be tempting enough to convince Tehran to forego its 18-year quest for The Bomb? In other words, when you already own the carrot patch, where's the incentive in a few more carrots - especially if you expect them to be offered from an acquiescent West after you do "go nuclear?"
We must change Tehran's calculations -with national and international sanctions if necessary. The Security Council should require U.N. members to reject all investment and non-humanitarian trade with Iran until Tehran has verifiably given up its nuclear fuel and weapon material production capabilities. It must further declare that Iran has forfeited all rights under the NPT to possess nuclear material production facilities.
However, it is likely that Russia and China - loath to jeopardize their investments in Iran - will delay effective Security Council action for some time. Therefore, concerned nations must act unilaterally, now: European and Asian governments must immediately suspend or terminate their existing Iranian investments. The Bush Administration must be more assertive with our friends and allies, and Russia and China, to convince them that continued trade and investment will lure the Ayatollahs of Terror away from their multi-year quest for nuclear weapons. If persuasion fails, then the United States must finally use the sanctions authority in U.S. law to punish and deter those who continue to invest in, and thereby aid and abet, a state bent on adding nuclear weapons to its arsenal of terror.
This campaign to stop a nuclear Iran must begin on February 2nd, when all responsible Member States of the IAEA must vote in the affirmative to send Iran to the Security Council. Anything less will give fresh hope to the Ayatollahs of Terror that the world will remain tremulous and divided in the face of their threats. We in the Congress will watch carefully who among our friends will stand up and be counted.