US leadership needed to disarm Iran

We should not fear negotiation. But the true test of Iran’s intentions will be whether they are willing to give up their nuclear program.

By LUKE MESSER
October 13, 2013 22:15
3 minute read.
Protesters against an Iran-US thaw carry Obama and Rouhani puppets in New York, Sept. 24, 2013.

Obama and Rouhani puppets UN 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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President Reagan’s policy of peace through strength won the Cold War. FDR mobilized an unprecedented American response to Pearl Harbor. The buck stopped with President Truman.

Ike commanded the world’s allied fight against evil. JFK stared down Nikita Khrushchev. George W. Bush put terrorists on notice that their evil acts would not stand.

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In contrast, President Barack Obama’s indecisive foreign policy has most Americans longing for the good old days. This president’s mistakes are undermining our preeminent role in foreign affairs and making the world more dangerous. His handling of Syria was a debacle.

We can’t afford a repeat with Iran.

It’s time for the United States to start acting like the United States again.

Syria’s use of chemical weapons was morally reprehensible, and that nation’s chemical weapons stockpile could threaten our national security if it fell into the wrong hands. But, a nucleararmed Iran is a game changer that would alter the world as we know it.

That danger is closer than you might think. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports that Iran already has 186 kg. of enriched uranium. It only takes 250 kg. to make a nuclear bomb. If nothing is done, most experts believe Iran is somewhere between six months and 18 months from obtaining a nuclear weapon. We cannot let that happen.



Despite recent happy talk, there is substantial evidence to suggest that Iran is accelerating its nuclear ambitions.

Tehran continues its large-scale installation of advanced, higher-speed centrifuges that will enable significantly more rapid production of weaponsgrade uranium. Iran is also pursuing the plutonium path and has begun production of heavy water to feed its Arak reactor.

Recently, the president called Iran’s new leader, Hassan Rouhani. This historic phone call marked the first time in more than three decades that the leaders of these two nations have spoken.

Indications are that they instructed their respective diplomats to work toward an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. The president should listen to diplomatic overtures coming from Tehran. But he should resist unnecessary delay.

I met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on a recent trip to Israel.

His sobering assessment of Iran’s nuclear ambitions and analysis of the potential consequences of a nuclearcapable Iran would strengthen anyone’s resolve. In his October 1 speech to the United Nations General Assembly, the prime minister was clear that “the only diplomatic solution that would work is the one that fully dismantles Iran’s nuclear weapons program and prevents it from having one in the future.” I agree.

We should not fear negotiation. But the true test of Iran’s intentions will be whether they are willing to give up their nuclear program. Given the high stakes of delay, we cannot allow insincere overtures to buy Iran more time to achieve nuclear capability.

Our negotiations must be backed by real resolve. We should strengthen construction and foreign exchange penalties to prevent Iran from offsetting existing energy and financial sanctions.

Most importantly, we must make clear that the use of military force is an option if Iran fails to reverse its nuclear program. Iran must know that we will not allow them to obtain a nuclear bomb under any circumstances.

That’s not just my view. It’s one shared by 78 Republican and Democratic freshman members of the US House who recently signed a letter I wrote with Representative Brad Schneider (DIllinois).

The letter urges the president to broaden and strengthen the enforcement of sanctions against Iran until Tehran takes verifiable steps to reverse its nuclear activities.

These are challenging times. The president’s indecisive response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons has made the world more dangerous and unpredictable. Russia has been elevated on the world stage with President Vladimir Putin so emboldened that he recently lectured the American people in The New York Times, saying that we ought not to consider ourselves exceptional.

But we are exceptional. The US doesn’t use its military might for territorial conquest. America has sacrificed its sons and daughters and sought nothing in return except to preserve our security and promote peace and freedom around the globe. We’ve saved the world more than once because we were bold and brave, not timid.

President Obama must embrace America’s unique leadership role and make clear to Iran that we mean what we say. The world will be a safer place if he does.

The author, a Congressman, is president of the Republican Freshman Class and serves on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and its Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa.

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