On the Inevitability of a Nuclear-Armed Iran
U.S. Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) says that if U.S. President Barack Obama is re-elected for a second term in the White House, Iran will probably, without an Israeli intervention, obtain nuclear weapons. If that happens, terrorists the world over will gain access to these weapons.
"Our children would walk in the shadow of nuclear terrorism, and it is something that is unthinkable in my mind. And, I pray that cooler heads will prevail."
Congressman Franks is in Jerusalem with a delegation of 25 government leaders from 17 nations as part of the International Israel Allies Foundation. Speaking to this reporter following a press conference at the ICEJ Feast of Tabernacles, Franks took a strong pro-Israel stand on issues important to the Jewish State. Referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech before the United Nations General Assembly in which the latter drew a red line on a diagram of a bomb, Franks affirmed the necessity of setting red lines that are clear. He thinks Netanyahu is doing the right thing to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear capability.
"He is wisely trying to prevent conflict, military armed conflict with Iran. ... The red line is a very critical component of any policy that we should have towards Iran. Unfortunately, our president has vacillated and sent such an ambiguous message, that Iran has proceeded with impunity."
Franks was referring to the White House's and State Department's recent decision to refuse to stand with Israel on this important issue despite Netanyahu's pleas. Obama dismissed these pleas as "noise" that he wanted to block out. Obama also called Israel one of America's allies in the region, rather than America's main ally in the Middle East. This slight change in diplomacy widened the abyss between the two leaders begun when Obama snubbed Netanyahu by not meeting with him, personally, during Netanyahu's recent trip to the U.S. Meanwhile, Franks believes that the red line Netanyahu is requesting from the Obama administration demonstrates the seriousness of the situation that the global community is facing.
"I appreciate him trying to help our president understand it, because our president doesn't seem to get it."
According to Franks, there are, currently, two possibilities that will stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. One is a direct military intervention on the part of America, the free world, and Israel. Alternatively, a conviction must be fostered in the minds of Iranian leaders that a war might occur if they continue past a certain point. Franks doesn't think the Iranians sense those red lines yet, which may leave only the military option in the future.
"The necessity to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons capability is so vital that whatever it takes, we must do. And, in my judgment now, it looks like if we want to prevent, we must pre-empt. ... I don't think Iran believes that Mr. Obama has the determination or the clarity or the understanding to do that. And, I am afraid they are right."
Over 70% of Americans support Israel. There is increasing support on the part of U.S. citizens for military action against Iran if necessary. The U.S. Navy has sent more war ships into the Persian Gulf to defend Western interests, and there are contingency plans to keep the Strait of Hormuz open if the Iranians try to close them to commercial oil traffic. While the U.S. has beefed up its military presence in the Gulf, so has Iran. But Iran knows that at some point, if they go too far, and if they should launch an attack against U.S. personnel in the region, America will respond harshly.
Franks hinted that if Iran gains nuclear weapons capability, Iranian leaders have new ways to close the Persian Gulf that would be almost impossible to change in a short period of time.
"It could wreak havoc with not only world markets, but also the geopolitical landscape. Those things are certainly concerns."
Franks agrees with other international leaders that an Iran with nuclear capability is an existential threat to the Jewish State. He mentioned that an Iranian Shihab missile would take only fifteen minutes to hit Israel. If that missile carried a nuclear warhead, Israel's multi-layered anti-missile defense system would still have only a 50% chance of knocking down the first one.
"It is very serious for Israel. But I also believe it is very serious for America," Franks stated. "One nuclear warhead would damage the Arab world, but would be devastating to Israel. My sense is that they [Iran] would accept significant damage to themselves in order to destroy Israel."
During Obama's presidency, American foreign policy has been misunderstood in the Middle East. Though Obama has been determined to increase ties with the Arab world, his policies have resulted in angering both Arabs on the streets and those in government circles. For this reason, the U.S. is seen less as a major player or power broker in the region, which is severely weakening U.S. influence in the Middle East.
For this reason and many others, Franks admits he is not supportive of Obama.
"This administration has projected such vacillation and such uncertainty and such weakness that it has been provocative, and Iran has been emboldened. I am afraid that unless the change of command occurs in America, Iran will proceed again. If they are not intervened [against], Iran will gain nuclear weapons. And we will all need a new calendar. It will change humanity that much."
C. Hart reports on political, diplomatic, and military issues as they relate to Israel, the Middle East, and the international community.