Saturday, December 10, 2005

ElBaradei Begs Israel Not to Attack Iran

Iran continues to ratchet up the rhetoric against Israel, openly stating this week that the country should be moved to Europe. Iran also vowed to produce nuclear fuel, further inflaming the situation. In response, Israel warned yesterday that they must now prepare for "non-diplomatic methods" to prevent Israel from obtaining nuclear technology. Worried that Israel is preparing to attack Iran, ElBaradei today begged them not to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities. Said ElBaradei, "You cannot use force to prevent a country from obtaining nuclear weapons. By bombing them half to death, you can only delay the plans. But they will come back, and they will demand revenge." (The Jerusalem Post: ElBaradei: Don't bomb Iran's nuclear facilities).

ElBaradei is wrong on several counts. First of all, it is Iran, not Israel, that is escalating the war of words. Everything Iran has said and done for the last three months appears intended to provoke Israel into a war. Given what's at stake for Israel, Iran will likely not have to push much further. It is a given that Israel cannot afford to allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.

Secondly, you can indeed prevent a country from obtaining nuclear capabilities through the use of force. In fact, Israel did just that when they bombed Iraq's nuclear research facilities in the late 1980s. If the nation in question is not willing to halt the research on their own - as did Libya and South Africa - then force is the only option remaining. Iran has made it clear that they have no intentions of abandoning their nuclear programs. That does not leave Israel with any options. Sanctions are clearly ineffective in this regard. Iraq lived with sanctions for 12 years. In Iran's case, they would have nuclear weapons long before any sanctions could have an impact. Israel doesn't have time for that.

As to ElBaradei, as the head of the IAEA, he should be at the forefront of any attempts to prevent nuclear capability from falling into Iran's hands. As usual, however, he, the IAEA, and the UN in general are totally useless in this regard. They could not prevent Pakistan or India from gaining nuclear weapons, they stood idly by while North Korea developed nuclear capability, and they will be incapable of preventing Iran from doing so.

The biggest problem facing Israel is that they do not have any weapons (that we know of) that can penetrate the bunkers housing Iran's nuclear research. For that they will have to rely on the US. There's little doubt that such a strike will have to occur, however. Nothing short of a military strike is going to halt Iran's nuclear program. Will it end it? Probably not. But we can certainly set their program back a decade or more, and there's no reason the same technique cannot be used again.

As to Iran wanting retaliation for such a strike, they would be wise to think more than twice before attempting it. The US and allies now control three of Iran's borders. Dismantling Iran, should they move on Israel, would not take much longer than dismantling Iraq did. Come to think of it, that's a score that we still need to settle with Iran. We have not forgotten their holding US hostages for over 400 days in the late 70s. That debt must still be paid.

If ElBaradei wishes to issue warnings, they'd best issue them to Iran. They're talking trash and may soon pay the price for it.


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