- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 19, 2000

Whatever the outcome at Camp David, Iran has just announced that it will not tolerate any kind of peace, let alone an armistice, in the Middle East. The ayatollah theocracy, which runs the most efficient terrorist apparatus in the world, made this bellicose announcement in dramatic, shot-across-the-bow fashion: It successfully test-fired a ballistic missile with an 800-mile range carrying a 1-ton warhead.

This test-firing of the Shahab-3 missile, which could reach either Israel or Saudi Arabia, where American troops are stationed, in little more than a minute, is, first, a direct slap at President Clinton's Mideast diplomacy and, second, highlights the bankruptcy of the administration's policy of sucking up to nonexisting or powerless "moderates" in Iran. It is also a warning to Yasser Arafat and the PLO not to make a deal with Israel under any circumstances or else.

In the face of this Iranian intervention what course should the ever endangered Israel pursue? This life-and-death question has pertinence in light of an historic event which involved Israel 19 years ago.

On Sunday, June 7, 1981, at precisely 6:37 p.m., nine Israeli jets destroyed an almost-completed Iraqi nuclear reactor located 12 miles east of Baghdad. With that pre-emptive strike, the Israelis destroyed the 75-megawatt, $275 million Osirak reactor because they claimed it could have been used to make atomic bombs to be directed against the Jewish state. There was only one casualty, a French technician.

Israel explained the raid in stark, simple language: "We under no circumstances will allow an enemy to develop against our people weapons of mass destruction."

The pre-emptive bombing of the Iraq reactor was heartily condemned yes, condemned in Washington and the United Nations, even though U.S. sources disclosed that the facility, according to the Associated Press, might have been operational "within two weeks."

As it turned out, what Israel did in 1981 was a service not merely to itself or to other democracies but to the Arab world as well. For with atomic weapons at his command, Saddam Hussein could have conquered Iran, seized Saudi Arabia (let alone Kuwait) and made himself master of the Persian Gulf.

On July 15, Israel's deputy defense minister, Ephraim Sneh, said in different words what Israel had stated 19 years ago:

"When such a regime has a long-range capacity combined with a tremendous effort to combine it with nuclear projects, it's of great concern to Israel."

Mr. Sneh told the Associated Press, without giving details, that Israel is prepared to forestall "the dangers of Iran's weapons technology."

Iran's dictatorship today is mired in a pre-revolutionary crisis in which people, especially university students, are turning out almost daily in protest parades. Iran's economy is in shambles despite increased oil revenues. Internal terror against the Iranian people is routine despite seeming democratic practices like elections whose results are ignored. The results of the last presidential election in 1997 showed that an overwhelming 70 percent of the voters wanted reform and a liberalized government.

The Iranian missile threat is a calamitous event, the dangers of which cannot be exaggerated. Iran has already developed or will soon develop, with help from Russia, China and North Korea, weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivery within 800 miles of the launch site. Iran's xenophobic rulers are fanatics think of the fatwa against the novelist, Salman Rushdie who combine ancient belief systems with ultramodern weaponry. They are ready to sacrifice 65 million Iranians and the rest of the Middle East in their quest for sectarian domination.

Israel knows all this; Saudi Arabia knows all this. The White House knows all this; the national security adviser, the secretary of state, Congress everybody knows that Iran's Supreme Spiritual Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 61, is Hitler in a turban. Or is that too impolite to say?

Wake up, Mr. Clinton, and let's hear the true story of how this administration has in eight years created a crisis which need never have happened. Is Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, to be sacrificed on the altar of Clintonian diplomacy?



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