- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 27, 2005

If anyone had any doubts about the danger posed by a potential nuclear-armed Islamist regime in Iran — and the need for the West to develop a more realistic approach to the ruling mullahs — the Iranian president’s call for Israel’s destruction should dispel them.

Speaking Wednesday at a conference in Tehran titled “The World Without Zionism,” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed that a wave of Palestinian attacks would wipe Israel off the map. “There is no doubt that the new wave in Palestine will soon wipe this disgraceful blot from the face of the Islamic world,” he said. “Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation’s fury, [while] any [Islamic leader] who recognizes the Zionist regime means he is acknowledging the surrender and defeat of the Islamic world.”

Just hours after that declaration to an audience of 3,000 students chanting “Death to Israel” and “Death to America,” Palestinian Islamic Jihad, one of the numerous terrorist groups funded by Tehran, killed five Israelis and wounded approximately 30 more in the bombing of an Israeli marketplace.

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s brazen call for the destruction of another country drives home once again the utter bankruptcy of the European Union’s diplomacy-only approach to dealing with the current Iranian regime and its bid to acquire nuclear weapons. It should also spur the United States to revisit the decision made in March to defer to the Europeans and adopt a softer approach to Iran.

In his 2005 State of the Union address, President Bush noted Iran’s role as “the world’s primary state sponsor of terror” and demanded that Tehran “give up its uranium enrichment program and any plutonium reprocessing and end its support for terror.” But shortly after that speech, Washington announced that it would support the easing of some sanctions on Iran and would throw its support behind the efforts of the EU 3 — Britain, France and Germany — to persuade Iran to negotiate away its nuclear-weapons programs.

Since that time, Iran has responded with defiance and contempt. In August, it broke the protective seals at the Isfahan nuclear facility and resumed uranium-conversion efforts. Last month, Iran’s chief negotiator on nuclear affairs warned that it would consider other countries’ reaction to its atomic program in deciding how to allocate energy contracts and threatened to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty if its case is referred to the United Nations.

Iran also has stepped up its efforts to foment unrest in Iraq and has remained energetic in supporting terror groups to challenge the authority of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The Iranian president’s call for Israel’s destruction is the latest illustration of the fact that the West’s current approach to Iran has failed.

The effort to work with the Europeans was worth trying. But the Europeans’ unwillingness to consider stronger steps against Iran, combined with the likelihood of Russian and Chinese vetoes at the Security Council, made the European plan unworkable. These developments should be sobering for those who have relied on diplomacy that is not backed up by a credible coercive threat.

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