Sanctions haven’t slowed Iran’s nuclear efforts

When CIA Director Leon Panetta said this week that Iran could have nuclear weapons within two years, it confirmed what many people already feared and it highlighted several disturbing facts.

First, a U.S. intelligence estimate from just three years ago that concluded Iran had halted its effort to develop nuclear armaments was wrong. Intelligence officials in Europe and other countries disputed that assessment, with good reason, as is now apparent.

Second, options are rapidly decreasing for means to prevent the Islamic clerics who rule Iran, and their political puppet, President Ahmadinejad, from getting their fingers on the trigger of the world’s most destructive weapons.

Since Ahmadinejad has pledged to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth, many Israelis expect their small country to be the first target if Iran goes nuclear. No one should be surprised if Israelis decide not to wait for that to occur, and take pre-emptive action to block the threat.

If they do, you can be sure other nations — particularly Arab countries in the Middle East — will condemn Israel for its efforts. But secretly, many Arab leaders will breathe a sigh of relief. For a nuclear-armed Iran will be a threat to all independent nations in the region, not just Israel.

Additionally, it is now clear how ineffective attempts at direct negotiations and limited economic sanctions have been in halting Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Panetta admitted that sanctions probably would not stop Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons during a television interview this week. This has been a failure for both the Obama administration and that of President George W. Bush.

It’s clear that President Barack Obama has begun to realize how little is accomplished in trying to negotiate with Iran. His administration successfully pushed for renewed sanctions against Iran in the United Nations last month. But, unless economic sanctions are significantly more severe than they are now, there’s little indication they’ll have any effect.

We’re not about to argue for a troop-based military effort to block Iran’s plan. We already have enough U.S. military personnel in danger in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But Iran represents a dark and menancing cloud to this planet. The United States and our allies need to make it clear to Iran’s Islamist leaders that any credible threat to use nuclear weapons — against anybody — will result in swift and severe retaliation.


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