The Washington Times

Showdown with Iran

By Kenneth R. Timmerman
Published February 8, 2006

Saturday's resolution by the International Atomic Energy Agency inVienna reporting Iran to the U.N. Security Council for further actionis not just a slap on the wrist, as skeptics of the United Nationsmight legitimately suspect.

On the contrary, it demonstrates aremarkable consensus among nations few would consider as U.S. alliesthat Iran's nuclear weapons program poses a clear and present dangerto the world at large.

Only three countries voted againstthe strongly worded resolution: Syria, Cuba and Venezuela. Considerthem newly-minted allies with Iran in an axis of insanity. (And holdon to your wallet when Venezuela's anti-gringo President Hugo Chavez,who exports 2 million barrels of oil daily, joins Iran in efforts toratchet up the price of oil to chill our resolve.

Voting with the United States werenot only Russia and China, whose agreement was essential toratcheting up the press on Iran, but Egypt and Yemen and India.Getting these five to join us and the Europeans was a majoraccomplishment. It has required extraordinary diplomatic efforts --from an administration ridiculed by Democrats for its "unilateral"approach to world affairs.

Three individuals and two pieces ofinformation have been key to this success.

Secretary of State CondoleezzaRice. Just two days before the IAEA board met in Vienna, MissRice won agreement from the foreign ministers of Russia, China,France, Britain and Germany to send Iran's case to the U.N. SecurityCouncil for possible sanctions.

The U.S. ambassador to the UnitedNations, John Bolton. Behind closed doors, Mr. Bolton has made itclear the Bush administration will watch and judge the U.N. SecurityCouncil performance very closely as it takes on Iran's case.

If the Council cannot rally to punisha regime that has openly called for destroying two U.N. member states(Israel and the United States), the U.N. may not be worth preserving.The notion the United States could pursue "other venues" besides theU.N. for international crisis management and cooperation -- such as aCouncil of Democracies --

The U.S. ambassador to the IAEA,Gregory Schulte. This low-key Bush appointee had dedicated hisevery waking moment to convince members of the IAEA board ofgovernors of the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran, and is personallyresponsible for winning support from unlikely corners. He has provedto be the right man at the right time.

Two critical pieces of informationalso helped convince world leaders that "no reasonable doubt" couldremain as to Iran's nuclear intentions.

(1) The walk-in's laptop.Around 18 months ago, an Iranian missile technician walked into aU.S. Embassy. For once, the CIA responded as spy movies would have usbelieve is the norm: They actually listened to him, instead ofrejecting his "stories" as "fabrications" that

The defector's information wasconsidered credible because it was limited and highly detailed, U.S.officials revealed. Documents on his laptop showed the Iranians wereredesigning the re-entry vehicle of the Shahab-3 missile -- the onethe Revolutionary Guards parade in Tehran with banners vowing it will"wipe Israel off the map" -- to carry a nuclear payload.

(2) The Khan documents. Thehead of the IAEA's safeguards division, Ollie Heinonen, told the IAEAboard about the second smoking gun during a briefing last Thursday.It was a 15-page document the Iranians obtained from the nuclearblack market of Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan that detailed theprocess of "casting and machining" highly enriched uranium into"hemispherical forms." That turned the heads of all but the comatose.As Undersecretary of State Robert Joseph said last week, "We know ofno application for such hemispheres other than nuclear weapons."

Mr. Heinonen detailed these and otherfindings in a remarkable four-page report to the IAEA board.Diplomats in Vienna called it a "bold departure" from earlier IAEAreports because it "explicitly referred twice to nuclear weapons"activity in Iran.

It has taken the world 19 years towake up to what should have been obvious the minute Iran signed itsfirst consulting contract with A.Q. Khan in 1987. Now the showdownover what to do about it begins.

My advice: Fasten your seatbelts, because we're in for a rough ride. And don't think for aminute all the threats out of Tehran are mere bluster.

Kenneth R. Timmerman is presidentof the Middle East Data Project Inc. and author of "Countdown toCrisis: the Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran."

Copyright2006, Kenneth R. Timmerman