Sunday, January 8, 2006

If anyone has any doubt about the kind of nuclear work Iran has been doing for the past 18 years, it must be a case of naivete compounded by gullibility.

Nor should there be any uncertainty about what Iran’s mullahocracy would do with a nuclear weapon. All of Iran’s leaders since the Ayatollah Rohollah Khomeini replaced the shah in February 1979 have made it clear the objective is Israel’s destruction.

In Iran’s last presidential race, Western governments and media favored Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. He was a “known” quantity and a “moderate.” Michael Rubin, editor of the Middle East Quarterly and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, burst that soap bubble.

Four years ago, when he took the podium at Tehran University to deliver the Friday sermon, Mr. Rafsanjani predicted the Islamic world one day would be equipped with nuclear weapons only Israel possesses in the Middle East. At that point, he explained, “the strategy of the imperialists will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything.” And, added the “moderate” former president of Iran, “It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.”

Another prominent “moderate,” courted by Europe’s democracies, was former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami. “In the Koran,” he declared in a homily Oct. 24, 2000, “God commanded to kill the wicked and those who do not see the rights of the oppressed.”

The Bush administration argues a small minority of terrorists that have perverted the meaning of Islam has hijacked the religion. But didn’t Ayatollah Khatami speak for Shi’ite Islam when he said, “If we abide by the Koran, all of us should mobilize to kill.” This is not Osama bin Laden or sidekick Ayman al-Zawahiri or Abu Musab Zarqawi speaking for militant Islam, but a man, who when he invoked the Koran to kill infidels, was regarded in the West as the “moderate” president of Iran.

Having a nuclear weapon is fundamental to Islamist belief. No odes to world peace if they do this, or dirges to world catastrophe if they do that, will deflect the mullahs’ core belief as dictated by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Fundamental to Israeli defense doctrine is that no weapon of mass destruction can be tolerated in any Middle Eastern arsenal. Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, the geopolitical sage of the Orient, said in a UPI interview three months before September 11, 2001, the biggest threat on horizon 2010 is “an Islamist bomb and mark my words, it will travel.”

Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, now controlled by pro-Western President Pervez Musharraf, was developed by the same man who began assisting Iran’s nuclear efforts 18 years ago. A.Q. Khan, also known as Dr. No for the nuclear black market he created to benefit U.S. enemies, began imparting his nuclear know-how to Iran in 1988. Israel believes if Iran resumes weapons-grade uranium enrichment, March 2006 becomes a critical month for acquisition of Iran’s first nuclear weapon.

All is not well in Pakistan either. Radical clerics won a major victory against Mr. Musharraf by refusing to expel foreign students in madrassas, the Koranic schools where hatred of America and Israel is still taught.

Tehran started the new year by announcing it doesn’t like a Russian compromise proposal and soon will resume nuclear fuel research. Iranian agents have also scoured Europe for missile parts, says a 55-page intelligence assessment dated July 1, 2005. Leaked to the Guardian in Britain, it draws upon material gathered by British, French, German and Belgian agencies.

Iran, says this report, has developed an extensive web of front companies, official bodies, academic institutes and middlemen dedicated to obtaining in Western Europe and former Soviet republics, the expertise, training and equipment for nuclear programs, missile development, and biological and chemical weapons arsenals.

The document, says the Guardian, lists scores of Iranian companies and institutions involved in the arms race. It also details Tehran’s determination to perfect a ballistic missile that can deliver warheads far beyond its borders. Iran is trying to extend the range of its Shahab-3 missile, now almost 1,000 miles and capable of reaching Israel.

Taking their cue from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who declared Israel “should be wiped off the map” and the World War II Holocaust was a figment of Zionist propaganda, Iranian commentators push the envelope to nauseous absurdity.

Tehran TV political analyst Hosein Rouyvaran said Nazi concentration camps were “detention centers” where no more than 250,000 Jews died and where “for hygienic reasons, they used to burn the bodies of those who died of typhus or contagious diseases [in crematoria].”

Gas chambers, this moron explained, were “for disinfecting the clothes and the possessions of the prisoners.”

Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor at large of The Washington Times and of United Press International.

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