Reprinted from
Sen. JonKyl: Iran Nukes 'Biggest Challenge' to UnitedStates

Kenneth R. Timmerman

Saturday, May 27,2006

 WASHINGTON -- Senator Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., told a group initiallyformed to educate the American public about Soviet aggression duringthe Cold War that the "Iranian nuclear crisis . . . is the biggestchallenge in the near and immediate future" the United States willface.

 In a May 25 speech before the Committee on the Present Danger,Kyl urged Americans from all political backgrounds to agree on "firstprinciples" about Iran that "can win the adherence of decent peopleeverywhere."

 He described seven concepts he felt should guide U.S. andinternational policy-makers in confronting the aggressive behavior ofthe Iranian regime led by hard-line president MahmoudAhmadinejad.

1) Recognize that inaction also hasconsequences.

Doing nothing about Iran's nuclearprograms amounts to acquiescence to a nuclear Iran, Kyl argued.

2) Take Ahmadinejad at his word.

Claims by Iran's president that Iranwill wipe Israel off the map and attack America "may be mere bluster. . . However, the more prudent assumption to make is thatAhmadinejad is a dangerous man, bent on doing us harm and seeking thecapability to act on his oft-stated intentions," Kyl said.

Comparing threats by the Iranian president to the famous incident atthe United Nations in New York when Soviet leader Nikita Khruschevvowed to "bury" the United States, Kyl noted that "Ahmadinejad is notsimply banging his shoe on the podium . . . Given the tremendouscosts – financial and diplomatic – that the regime isbearing, it is safest to assume" that it sees advantages to becominga nuclear power.

3) Assume worst case estimates on Iran'snuclear weapons capability.

The U.S. intelligence community "hasa terrible record predicting when countries will ‘go nuclear,'Kyl said. In fact, "in nearly every case other than the most recentpre-war Iraq intelligence, our estimates have underestimated thecapacity of determined regimes to secretly develop theirprograms."

 The CIA was surprised by Soviet nuclear tests in 1949, Chinesetests in 1964, Indian tests in 1974 and 1998, and again with Pakistanand North Korea. "Given this uncertainty, it is wise to act as if themore pessimistic estimates of Iran's nuclear timeline are warranted,"he said.

4) Use Iran as a "litmus test" with friendsand allies

"The abuses of international lawperpetrated by the Tehran regime have been flagrant and repeated, andattempts to use diplomacy alone have failed," Kyl said. "The time hascome for us and our allies to impose targeted sanctions and penaltiesagainst Iran. The Europeans need to ratchet up the pressure in theU.N."

The U.S. should use Iran as a "litmus test for responsibleinternational citizenship," specifically with Russia and China."There need to be consequences for their continued intransigence. Weneed to look at options such as organizing boycotts of the July G-8meeting in St. Petersburg, or the 2008 Olympics in Beijing."

5) Reach out to the Iranian people.

"By and large, the people of Iran areyounger, better educated, and more pro-Western than theircounterparts elsewhere in the region," Kyl said. "They are thegreatest hope for regime change, which in turn, is the only hope fora moderate Iran. The West must build connections with the Iranianpublic, and signal that our gripe is not with them but strictly withthe regime in Tehran."

6) Target the Iranian leadership.

Noting that most economic activity inIran "is controlled by the State," Kyl favored sanctions targetingstate-run businesses and Iran's economy in general, because theywould "disproportionately hit the leadership."

The IMF has been tracking "significant outflows of internationalcapital from Iran," he said. "Coordinated sanctions will make foreigninvestors still more skittish, and make the regime's businessinterests less profitable."

Kyl adopted other suggestions from a recent paper on Iran by theCommittee on the Present Danger, in particular: "bringing a casebefore the International Criminal Court, charging Ahmadinejad withinciting genocide," because of his repeated threats to wipe Israeloff the map. "Doing so would isolate the Iranian leadershipinternationally," Kyl said.

7) Keep force on the table should diplomacyfail

"It is hard to believe thatAhmadinejad could be deterred from using nuclear weapons onceacquired," Kyl said. Because of this, the United States shouldconsider pre-emptive military action, should current diplomaticefforts fail.

Along with Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., Kyl called on nationalsecurity experts from both political parties two years ago toreconstitute the Committee on the Present Danger, which had beendisbanded at the end of the Cold War.

Lieberman also addressed the Committee last night, and called for"rational" discourse on national security affairs, including theIranian nuclear crisis.

 "We cannot deal with such issues on a partisan basis,"Lieberman said.