- The Washington Times - Monday, October 18, 2004

U.S. in talks with Europeans on a nuclear deal with Iran

New York Times, Oct. 12.

G-8 nations to meet on Iran

The Washington Post, Oct. 15.

Well, the talks and meetings will go on and on to the next Ramadan and the Ramadan after that and Iran will go on working on its nuclear arms program until it has the Bomb. There will be no deal with Iran no matter how costly nuclear bomb manufacture might be. With oil prices going through the roof, money is not a problem now nor in the foreseeable future.

The Washington Post report said the Group of Eight countries — the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Russia and Canada — would threaten punitive measures if Iran refused to abandon its nuclear arms program. The New York Times reported the U.S. was talking with its European allies on “a possible package of economic incentives for Iran” if only Iran would suspend its uranium enrichment activities.

Incentives? Hah. Iran is the second-largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and holds 10 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves and the second-largest (after Russia) natural gas reserves.

Incentives? Hah. Iran earns an estimated $900 million for every $1 per barrel increase in the price of its oil. And with oil up in the $50+ per barrel range, Iran is awash in cash and can do what it wants as bomb maker and bomb supplier.

Incentives? The only incentives that might matter would be the threat of sanctions. Who has the will to push for sanctions? France, Germany? Hah. Who has the power, let alone the will, to enforce sanctions if they ever came to a Security Council vote?

There will be no deal with Iran no matter how much they talk the talk and promise the promise. Iran is awash in money that Western Europe, particularly France, covets.

As far as I can see, it’s all going Iran’s way. Iran is stronger today than a decade ago. Iran emerged bloody and very unbowed in 1988 from its eight-year war with Iraq, a war that cost 1 million lives. Henry Kissinger supposedly said during that war “too bad they can’t both lose.” It didn’t work out that way. Iraq lost and Iran won right up to this very minute.

Iran is today the dominant land power in the Middle East militarily and economically. As leader of Shi’ite Islam, Iran must be delighted at the war in Iraq, which is killing off the rival Sunnis. With its new missiles, Iran has shown it could project its power far from home, and not only by financing the Hezbollah terror squads. The Iranian people may be unhappy with the clerical dictatorship but there is little they can now do about it.

Far more serious, Iran undertook its nuclear program in September 2002 under a decree of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and is on its way to being a nuclear power if not one already. And as far as I can see, nobody can stop Iran despite a resolution by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) adopted last September which called upon Iran “immediately [to] suspend all enrichment-related activities.”

According to an Iranian exile resistance group, Iran has secret sites all over the country engaged in nuclear activity. One secret site at Arak, about 154 miles southwest of Tehran, produces heavy water and plutonium. A sufficiently powerful heavy water reactor can be used to turn uranium into bomb-usable plutonium without requiring enrichment facilities. In Isfahan, there is the Center of Nuclear Research. There are other sites about which little is known. These plants are capable of producing three nuclear weapons a year.

Iran seems unstoppable. It has lots of scientific talent at home and abroad for hire, lots of theological-imperial ambitions, lots of money, lots of eager sellers and money lenders in the European Union and in Russia.

And that’s how wars begin.

Arnold Beichman, a Hoover Institution research fellow, is a columnist for The Washington Times. His updated biography “Herman Wouk, the Novelist as Social Historian,” has just been published.

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