- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 15, 2005

During his U.N. visit yesterday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad played a dangerous double game. On the one hand, he spoke of a willingness to present unspecified “new proposals” to resolve the diplomatic stalemate over Iran’s illicit nuclear-weapons program. On the other, he made a very disturbing new threat: suggesting that Tehran is prepared to transfer nuclear technology and knowhow to other Muslim countries. While Iran’s defiance continues, President Bush is working to persuade India not to cooperate with Iran’s nuclear-weapons programs. He is right to do so, and it should be one of the United States top foreign-policy priorities.

According to the state news agency IRNA, the Iranian president, after making the dubious assertion that Iran “never seeks weapons of mass destruction,” declared yesterday that “with respect to the needs of Islamic countries, we are ready to transfer nuclear knowhow to these countries.”

Despite Iran’s assertions that any transfer will be limited to “peaceful” nuclear technology, the fact is that the regime has acquired more than enough uranium and plutonium through ostensibly peaceful nuclear activites to produce atomic weapons.

Mr. Ahmadinejad did not specify which Muslim countries he plans to transfer nuclear technology to. But given the fact that most such nations are non-democratic and include terrorist havens (such as Saudi Arabia, Syria and Pakistan), Mr. Ahmadinejad’s comments must be seen for what they are: a threat to international peace and stability. His remarks cannot and should not be glossed over by the civilized world. It must be made clear to Mr. Ahmadinejad and his boss, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that any such technology transfer would have serious consequences for the Islamist dictatorship in Tehran.

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s comments should cause India to rethink its own troubling courtship of Tehran, particularly in the nuclear arena. In July, Mr. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed an agreement that effectively gave India an exemption from longstanding rules of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and Washington agreed to share peaceful nuclear technology with India despite the latter’s possession of nuclear weapons. But last month, India played host to Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani (the two sides met again the following week). And India says it will oppose U.S. efforts to censure Iran when the International Atomic Energy Agency holds its board meeting next week.

On Wednesday, Mr. Bush met with Mr. Singh in an apparently unsuccessful effort to persuade India to end any nuclear collaboration with Tehran so long as it continues to cheat. If India refuses, we urge Congress and the administration to take a long, hard look at the U.S. relationship with India and the nuclear accord signed two months ago.

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