- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 9, 2004

In the year since it acknowledged construction of two facilities that could be used to develop fissile material for a nuclear weapon, Iran has done little to comply with its obligations as a signatory of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

This is in marked contrast with Libya, which has chosen full disclosure and active cooperation. In December, the regime of Moammar Gadhafi admitted it had been seeking nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons for more than 20 years and agreed to let International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors dismantle these programs. In addition, the Libyans have since provided the IAEA with information on the nuclear-arms black market and the activities of A. Q. Khan, the Pakistani scientist who reportedly supplied components and designs for nuclear weapons programs to Libya, North Korea and Iran.

This week, the IAEA Board of Governors is meeting to discuss the progress made by these two countries in coming clean about their nuclear-weapons programs. The discussion will serve as a case study of the difference between cooperation and obstruction.

IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei has praised Libya for its “complete openness and transparency” and predicted that Libya could be declared free of all aspects of its nuclear weapons program by this June — six months after its initial decision to come forward.

Following meetings with the foreign ministers of Germany, France and the United Kingdom — and in the face of an IAEA deadline — Iran said it would cooperate fully with IAEA inspectors, allow snap inspections of its nuclear facilities and suspend its uranium enrichment program.

In October, Iran provided the IAEA with what it described as “a complete and final” declaration about its past nuclear activities. It turns out to have been a fraud. Since then, IAEA inspectors have uncovered designs and equipment that could produce enriched uranium in great quantities, traces of highly enriched uranium at two facilities and traces of polonium, a chemical used to start chain reactions in nuclear explosions.

Further, Iran asserts that its decision to suspend uranium enrichment is only temporary. It continues to buy components, assemble centrifuges and test equipment for uranium enrichment. And it intends to sell nuclear fuel internationally.

Leaders in Tehran hide these efforts behind the claim that its nuclear program exists solely for energy development, but such an assertion is ludicrous given its plentiful oil and gas reserves.

While it continues its nuclear weapons development, Iran directly supports terrorist organizations such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah, and calls for the destruction of the state of Israel. According to the State Department’s most recent report on international terrorism, Iran remained “the most active state sponsor of terrorism.”

Last June, Iran also made some advances in its development of conventional weapons, conducting a successful test of the 800-mile range Shahab-3 missile. If operational, this weapon could alter the strategic balance in the Middle East, placing Israel and U.S. bases in Turkey within Iran’s reach. Iran is also seeking to produce a 1,200- mile Shahab-4 missile.

Such behavior is very troubling. Coupled with its efforts to develop nuclear weapons, it constitutes a serious threat to peace and security. And make no mistake — how we handle this situation will be closely watched by other rogue states.

It is past time for the IAEA to declare Iran in violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and refer the matter to the U.N. Security Council for further action. Failure to do so would undermine the credibility of the IAEA, discourage other states from cooperating with the international community and allow the continued spread of nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons technology. In addition, any delay will only give Iran more time to work on its clandestine nuclear weapons program.

To prod our leaders to act on this issue, we have introduced a Senate resolution calling on President Bush and the U.N. Security Council to increase pressure on Iran. The resolution urges the president to work with our allies in requiring Iran to disclose its nuclear weapons program, calls on the Security Council to consider enacting diplomatic and economic sanctions against Iran, and insists that Iran cease all efforts to acquire nuclear fuel cycle capabilities.

Only a few years ago, Iran seemed headed on a new path of moderation and engagement with the outside world. The election of reform candidate Mohammad Khatami to the presidency in May 1997 signaled the potential for a dramatic change from the repressive rule of Iranian clerics. Yet, the clerics have barely loosened their grip on Iranian society, as demonstrated by last month’s sham elections, which excluded thousands of reform candidates.

When you consider the laundrylist of other recent Iranian actions — support for terror, human rights abuses against religious minorities, suppression of the student-led pro-democracy movement and the continued influence of unelected hardliners and the military in the nation’s affairs — it’s clear that we cannot allow Iran to become an even greater threat.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is a Democrat from California. Sen. Jon Kyl is a Republican from Arizona.

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