Thursday, April 06, 2006

Iran's Lethal Ambitions

Telegraph: Opinion
Defying the UN, Iran seems hell-bent on becoming a nuclear-armed state. As reported in The Daily Telegraph today, American intelligence believes that the nose cone of the Shahab-3 ballistic missile has been modified to carry a nuclear bomb, while the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) suspects the existence of a secret uranium enrichment project at closed military bases. These revelations confirm that Teheran is working both to produce a nuclear device and to ensure its delivery. READ MORE

Such has been the goal of the greatest Gulf power since the time of the Shah, suggesting that the end of clerical rule would not necessarily mean its abandonment.

If a successor government were benign, that might cause no more problem to the West and its allies than the nuclear arming of India and Pakistan. But, in their sponsoring of terrorism and call for Israel's destruction, the heirs of the 1979 Islamic revolution present a threat to international stability that the UN Security Council cannot ignore.

Counter-measures to date have been snail-like. Numerous resolutions passed by the IAEA, mediation by Britain, France and Germany and now referral to the Security Council have all failed to curb Iran's defiance. On March 29, the council could agree only to threaten Teheran with further consideration of the matter in 30 days' time, following a report on compliance by the agency.

Over sanctions, the five permanent members are divided between America, Britain and France, which are in favour, and China and Russia, which are against. John Bolton, the American ambassador to the UN, hinted yesterday that a coalition of the willing could penalise Iran were it impossible to reach consensus within the council.

This might entail using the Proliferation Security Initiative to prevent trafficking in weapons of mass destruction and related materials. Beyond that, administration members have not ruled out military strikes, though these have apparently been subordinated to efforts to change the nature of the regime, and may well be left for George W. Bush's successor to decide. The confrontation over Iran's nuclear ambitions is set to run for years.