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As a backdrop to these activities, our reinforcing measures must include nuclear forces as well. Although we should not threaten to use nuclear weapons on Iran, they provide fearsome, credible support for our conventional forces. Because they’re so devastating and unique, nuclear weapons are the real power in our deterrence. Our reinforcing measures with nuclear forces should include immediate resumption of underground nuclear weapons testing, as well as accelerated design, testing and production of new nuclear weapons with very low yield, great accuracy, reduced collateral damage and increased security and control. Individual designs should be tailored for earth penetration, chemical-biological agent defeat and reduced residual radiation — all with no attempt at secrecy.

Look back at our proven track record of deterrence. For half a century deterrence kept us safe. We’re all here today because it works. Throughout 40 years of the Cold War — the most deadly confrontation of nuclear-armed superpowers in history — deterrence worked. Those decades saw hundreds of crises, dozens of hot wars, yet America’s bold, firm, unwavering policy of deterrence was 100 percent effective in preventing use of a single nuclear weapon. We won the Cold War.

Iran today represents a whole spectrum of threats. A rogue state — irresponsible and belligerent — is about to acquire the capability to produce nuclear weapons. Iran has already threatened to use them to destroy Israel, and may well give them to proxies such as Hezbollah, Hamas and al Qaeda for use anywhere. Worst of all, Iran is triggering a global cascade of proliferation that will make nuclear weapons and material easily available to terrorists and criminals, leading to a world of nuclear horror and chaos from which there can be no return.

Diplomacy and sanctions have failed for two decades. It’s time for action: We must use the immense power of deterrence. We’re at a critical moment in history, and our president has just failed the red line test. This is no time for timidity, weakness and indecision. America needs the clear-eyed courage and boldness of a Teddy Roosevelt, Harry Truman or Ronald Reagan.

Retired Vice Adm. Robert R. Monroe was director of the Defense Nuclear Agency