By Kenneth R. Timmerman
Published November 4, 2005
Senior U.S. officials will tellSecretary of State Condoleezza Rice today it is not yet time to referIran's case to the U.N. Security Council for further action.
They will suggest the Iranian leadership has been taken aback by thestrong international reaction to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad'srecent statements that Israel should be "wiped off the map" and isready to compromise.
As a sign the leadership is moving in this direction, they will noteformer president Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani's "conciliatory"comments in Tehran last week. (Mr. Rafsanjani argued that instead ofwiping Israel off the map directly, Iran should support the "right"of return of Palestinians to Israel and let them do the job by votingIsrael out of existence -- a freedom neither he nor Iran's rulingclerics is willing to grant their fellow Iranians.) Given these signsof "moderation," the United States should allow the European Union"more time" to negotiate with Tehran, these officials will urge.
These arguments not only wrong; they are dangerous.
(1) Mr. Ahmadinejad's comments on Israel are the consensus view amongIran's leadership, not an extremist view.
The Revolutionary Guards Corps, from which Mr. Ahmadinejad emerged,regularly parades Shahab-3 missiles in Tehran with large banners thatread, "Israel must be wiped off the map."
Photos of these displays have appeared repeatedly in the Iranianpress and the international media. Until now, they have beenvirtually ignored.
Iran designed the Shahab-3 with Israel in mind. Iran did not need a800-mile range missile to hit Iraq, where shorter-range Oghabs andSCUDs on hand in 1988 did the trick quite well. Nor does Iran haveany reason to design a longer-range missile capable of hitting Turkeyor the Central Asian Republics.
This regime has consistently put the destruction of Israel and itsmain ally, the United States, at the very center of its ideology andpolicies.
(2) Mr. Rafsanjani's "moderate" views are exaggerated. Iran analystshave consistently misrepresented Mr. Rafsanjani as a "moderate" andas "pro-Western," a man we can "deal with."
In fact, Mr. Rafsanjani restarted Iran's nuclear weapons program in1986, by hosting a nuclear technology conference and personallyinviting Iranian nuclear scientists in exile to return. He continuesto be the program's staunchest supporter.
On Dec. 14, 2001, Mr. Rafsanjani gave the Jerusalem Day sermon atTehran University, and openly boasted Iran could wipe Israel off themap with an atomic bomb. "The use of an atomic bomb against Israelwould destroy Israel completely, while [the same] against theworld of Islam [i.e., Iran] would [only] causedamage," he said.
March 6, Mr. Rafsanjani told a two-day international nucleartechnology conference in Tehran that Iran would not give up itsnuclear technology under any condition. "Definitely we can't stop ournuclear program and we won't stop it. You can't take technology awayfrom a country already possessing it."
(3) The Iranian regime has used the negotiations to complete itsnuclear facilities.
Just as Iran said it was preparing to remove International AtomicEnergy Agency (IAEA) seals on its nuclear plants in August 2005,former Iranian negotiator Hosein Musavian revealed on Iranian TV thenegotiations with Europe were a sham from the start, meant to "buytime" for Iran to complete its nuclear facilities: "Thanks to ourdealings with Europe, even when we got a 50-day ultimatum, we managedto continue the work for two years. Today, we are in a position ofpower."
Allowing Iran to buy more time will only guarantee its additionalprogress toward nuclear weapons capabilities. The U.S. cannot riskallowing the world's most flagrant international terror sponsor tobecome a nuclear weapons-capable state.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice should instruct the U.S.ambassador to the IAEA, Greg Scholte, to strongly urge the IAEA Boardof Governors on Nov. 24 to refer Iran's case to the U.N. SecurityCouncil, where further steps can be taken to compel compliance withits nonproliferation obligations.
Referring Iran to the U.N. Security Council is no guarantee but it isthe necessary next step if the world community is to get seriousabout enforcing treaty obligations and stopping the spread of nuclearweapons to terrorist states.
Kenneth R. Timmerman is author of "Countdown to Crisis: the ComingNuclear Showdown with Iran," Crown Forum.
Copyright2005, Kenneth R. Timmerman