Sanctions Won't Stop Iran's Nuclear Bomb Program
The International Atomic Energy Agency has now provided credible evidence that Iran is clandestinely developing nuclear weapons, adding its considerable weight to warnings that the Islamic state is on the threshold of nuclear capability.
The IAEA's latest report details the military aspects of the program for the first time since the start of its inspections of Iranian nuclear sites nearly two decades ago. Previous IAEA reports had indicated grave concern about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear-related activities involving military-related organizations, and that "new information" received by the IAEA "related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile."
Iran is under four sets of U.N. sanctions for its illicit nuclear activities. Security Council Resolution 1737, passed on December 2006, banned the supply of nuclear-related materials and technology and froze the assets of key individuals and companies related to the program. Because Iranian leaders refused to halt their uranium enrichment program, another set of U.N. sanctions, in March 2007, imposed an arms embargo and expanded the freeze on Iranian assets.
The Iranian leaders called the U.N. resolutions worthless pieces of paper and continued with their nuclear ambitions, which caused the Bush administration to push for yet another set of sanctions, passed in March 2008. These extended the asset freezes and called upon member-nations to monitor the activities of Iranian banks, inspect Iranian ships and aircraft, and monitor the movement of individuals involved with the program through their territories.
When President Obama took office in 2009, he immediately changed the U.S. approach toward Iran, believing that the mullahs would change behavior only if a kinder, gentler approach were implemented. His appeasement of the mullahs started when he sent his video message on the occasion of the Iranian New Year in 2009, stating his desire for friendship with the Iranian leaders. That was followed by a letter to the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in which he reiterated his desire for better relations between the two countries.
Obama then turned his back on the Iranian people, who had taken to the streets by the millions after the fraudulent elections of 2009, demanding an end to the thugocracy in Iran. Obama believed that the Iranian leaders were ready to negotiate over their nuclear program and that the Iranian people's desire for regime change was not of interest to the U.S.
Months later Obama realized that the radicals had no intention of negotiating over their nuclear program and that they were only buying time. Obama started his second approach, a continuation of the Bush policy that promised harsh sanctions on Iran.
A fourth round of U.N. sanctions against Iran, passed in June 2010, banned Iran from participating in any activities related to ballistic missiles, tightened the arms embargo, froze the funds and assets of the Revolutionary Guards and the Iranian shipping lines, and much more. In the following year, many other sanctions were imposed by the United States and the European Union aside from those of the U.N.
Years of negotiations and sanctions have failed to stop Iran from its pursuit of a nuclear bomb and its missile program, nor have they convinced the jihadists in Tehran to change behavior. Today Iran holds enough enriched uranium for six nuclear bombs, has over 1,000 ballistic missiles, and is tripling its production of highly enriched uranium.
Iran's strategy has been effective: First, buy time with promises of holding talks and denying any illicit nuclear activity. Second, engage the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan through proxies, believing that it would make it difficult and costly for the U.S. to continue those operations and be forced to withdraw from the region. Last, incite uprisings within Islamic nations such as Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and others with the hope of overthrowing U.S.-backed governments while strengthening Iran's own position through its proxies in the region.
The Iranian leaders have concluded that due to the current events in the Middle East and the global economic crisis, the U.S. and the West have no option but to tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran and that any talk of military action is an empty bluff. A recent analysis in the Iranian Keyhan newspaper, under direct supervision of Khamenei's office, best describes their view: the U.S. has been defeated and soon will be buried.
Any talk of further sanctions will only verify that the West fears war and further instability in the region and must accept a nuclear-armed Iran.
The radicals in Iran are, at best, only months away from arming their missiles with nuclear warheads. Mutually assured destruction will not deter those who call themselves the soldiers of the Hidden Imam, Imam Mahdi, the last Islamic Messiah who they believe will bring chaos on the world.
Hundreds of millions of lives are at stake. We have to move beyond what's politically expedient, for there's only a small window of opportunity to avert great destruction to humanity. We have the ability to help Iranians rid themselves from this jihadist regime, but if we fail to do so, you can be assured that there will be war -- and it won't be on our terms.
Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for an ex-CIA spy who requires anonymity for safety reasons. He is a senior fellow with EMPact America and the author of A Time to Betray, a book about his double-life as a CIA agent in Iran's Revolutionary Guards, published by Threshold Editions, Simon & Schuster, April 2010. A Time to Betray was the winner of the 2010 National Best Book Award, and the 2011 International Best Book Award.