The U.S. cannot invade Iran. Aside from being currently stuck in Iraq, Iran has a population nearly three times the size of Iraq and has a much tougher army. Maybe we could just launch a few missiles? We could, but we are trying to avoid direct confrontation, especially with our troops in Iraq. Iran would have a hard time invading the U.S., but if we were to assume an aggressive posture and they felt lucky, they have direct access to our troops who already have enough problems. We don't have the support infrastructure in place to handle defending Iraq from itself AND Iran at the same time. Yes, it's sad that we are in a state where we have to protect our troops FROM Iran...seems rather backwards to me.
Maybe Israel will take care of it like they did with Iraq 20 years ago? Well, we did sell them quite a few bunker busting bombs earlier in the year (although as an aside, it could hardly be called a sale when we gave them $100 million, which they turned around and handed back to us in exchange for the bombs – At least this way we get to say that we gave financial aid to another country, AND we made a profit on some military surplus...government accountants should be shot). However, the jets used by the Israelis couldn't make it all the way to Iran and back without refueling which would require our help. This of course puts us back in the same situation we were in before. Additionally, the Iranians learned from what the Israeli's did in Iraq and have spread their facilities out all over the country. Some are literally buried under residential neighborhoods, others are simply decoys meant to look like nuclear sites. Bottom line, if you are going to launch a pack of missiles, you had better be damned sure you get it right. Anyone feel like rolling the dice based on the competence of the United States intelligence service?
Therefore, the U.S. needs support from the rest of the world. Yes, the same world that we have spent the last 2 years thumbing our nose at and alienating through our steadfast refusal to capitulate on any and all topics. Even ignoring the damage we have done to our credibility, and dismissing the world support we had post 9/11 but squandered on Iraq, will the rest of the world support us? To show support, the first thing they would have to do is refer the issue to the U.N. Security Council, and then pass a resolution, with no one vetoing it. Think this will happen?
Well, Russia has been helping Iran build nuclear facilities for quite a few years and the first of which is scheduled to go live in 2006. This is the same approach that Clinton used with North Korea, whereby we build them a power plant and we reclaim all of the spent fuel. They get their power plant, and we get the safety of getting the spent fuel back. However, despite repeated statements of opposition by President Bush, Russia continues to help Iran with it's nuclear ambitions, and also has established agreements with Iran to develop oil and gas deposits, jointly produce aircraft, and co-operate in communications and the metals industry. I don't see much help coming from there. China, whose need for fuel grows exponentially every year, signed a deal with Iran in late October which will funnel gas to China for the next 25 years, and also grants China rights to develop oil and gas field sin the Persian Gulf. One week later, China stated that they would oppose any effort to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council over the issue of Tehran's nuclear program, citing that to do so would "just make the issue more complicated". Toss in France and you already have 3 of the permanent members of the Security Council that will prevent us from gaining the support we need.
You know what, maybe I'm over-reacting. Maybe Iran, a country that has enough oil to keep it powered until the Sun burns out, really does feel like it needs a nuclear reactor. A quick look at this timeline should give us an idea...
2003 – Iran is pressured to stop turning uranium gas into enriched uranium via centrifuge (step 2 of the bomb making process)
10/11/2004 – Iran announces it has converted a few tons of uranium into gas (using step 1 of the bomb making process). They confirm that they won't enrich the uranium gas, but vow to continue all other activities.
10/17/2004 – Iran begins (publicly) converting uranium gas into (potentially) bomb grade material using its 1,500 centrifuges and announces that it plans to have 50,000 centrifuges by the end of 2005.
11/1/2004 – Britain, Germany, and France warns Iran that they will back the U.S. in taking Iran before the U.N. Security Council if they don't stop enriching uranium gas. Iranian lawmakers chant "Death to America" as they outline a bill to force the Iranian government to continue to enrich the gas. Note that Europe turned up the pressure, but the Iranians want American blood.
11/15/2004 – Iran agrees to stop enriching uranium gas...in a week.
11/18/2004 – Iran says it will start enriching the gas again unless Europe supports them at the 11/25 IAEA meeting on Iran.
You see how that works? They agree to not do step 2, while they are busy doing step 1. Then they agree to not do step 1, and they begin doing step two (having already done what they needed to do at step 1). They say they will halt their activities, in order to make the world understand that they are peaceful, and then 3 days later threaten to start again (before they have even stopped, mind you) unless Europe gives them a pass at the IAEA meeting next week. You will note, of course, that Iran made no mention of needing the support of China or Russia at that meeting...I wonder why. Iran continues to spin it's centrifuges like mad up until the moment of the deadline, at which time they can cease step 2, and move on to step 3 of the process, taking the enriched uranium and start the weapon making process. Should things not go their way on 11/25, they can just start doing all 3 steps again, because China and Russia are still going to veto any U.N. action AND Iran only needs to stall for a few more months to a year anyway. If things do go there way on 11/25, they can just start doing all 3 steps again, because it will take some time for anyone to notice, and when they do, they will just have to start the process of referring them all over again (and China and Russia...I know, broken record...).
So there you have it. Iran gaining nuclear weapons would be intolerable and a colossal failure of foreign policy. Bush said he will never let Iran get a hold of nuclear weapons, as this would represent an grave threat to the security of the United States. Bush has said that our military doesn't need to be any bigger, we won't have a draft, and that he will do whatever is necessary to protect our country. He said that he will never leave the safety of the United States in the hands of foreign powers, and that we must take any actions necessary to face terror overseas so that we don't have to face it on our shores.
I can't wait to see how Mr. Bush will talk his way out of all of this when Iran winds up with nuclear weapons next year. But then again, I may be way off base. Maybe France will save us yet. I'm not sure which is worse, having one of our cities get nuked, or having to be beholden to France. Either way, we have Bush (and 52% of you) to thank for it.
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