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Only the US Can Effectively End the Iranian Nuclear Threat

January 14, 2013 12:34 pm 6 comments

Israelis are concerned with the Iranian threat. Photo: Algemeiner

With Iran stubbornly spinning its nuclear centrifuges, despite nearly a decade of diplomatic efforts and sanctions, time is short to avoid another Middle East conflict that could spin disastrously out of control, leave many dead, and send oil prices skyrocketing. But the U.S. can still resolve this combustible crisis by using much bigger carrots and sticks to convince Iran to change course before it’s too late.

Only a credible threat of devastating force against Iran will peacefully prevent a potential doomsday scenario from becoming reality, and only the US can deliver such a threat. Unlike the Israeli military, the overwhelming power of the US military can completely destroy — rather than merely delay — Iran’s nuclear program and Iran’s ability to retaliate.

Unfortunately the signals of weakness out of Washington have only emboldened Iran.

Last August, Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, sent a dangerously counterproductive message to Iran when he said, referring to an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear program, “I don’t want to be complicit if they choose to do it.” According to reports last summer, the US used diplomatic back channels to ask Iran not to attack the US should Israel choose to strike unilaterally.

More recently, President Obama has nominated former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense. The Senior Republican Senator from Texas, John Cornyn, detailed Hagel’s abysmal voting record and stated positions when it comes to Iran and Israel in a CNN op-ed titled “Why I can’t support Hagel.” Senator Cornyn concludes that “the president has sent the worst possible message to our closest Middle Eastern ally and our greatest Middle Eastern enemy.”

Thus, rather than projecting unity and strength, the US has signaled division and weakness to Iran.

If Israel must act alone, the odds are far higher that a regional conflagration will result because Iran’s retaliation will be that much more easily supported by one or more of its regional allies: Hezbollah in Lebanon, Islamic Jihad and Hamas in Gaza, and possibly even Syria. Such an explosive regional war would undoubtedly draw in the US, notwithstanding its meek diplomatic requests to the contrary.

Paradoxically, if Iran believes that the US is about to launch a massive attack, it will back down, and no force will be needed. But if Iran doubts American resolve, the Islamic Republic will continue on its nuclear warpath.

The threat of force should be used to achieve something far more effective than the illusory “arrangement” settled on with North Korea in 1994. The goal with Iran must be a Libya-style total disarmament, removing equipment and material from Iran’s nuclear weapons program, with independent verification by the IAEA.

Such a disarmament is the only way to eliminate the many risks posed by the Iranian nuclear program. These dangers potentially include: (i) nuclear proliferation, because other countries in the volatile Middle East will feel threatened into wanting their own nuclear programs; (ii) the transfer of nuclear materials from Iran — the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism — to terrorist organizations and/or states; (iii) bolder attacks by terrorist groups protected by an Iranian nuclear umbrella; and (iv) an even more belligerent Iran that flexes its nuclear arsenal to: export its radical Islamic ideology, acquire disputed territories and resources from neighboring countries, and/or undertake actions like blocking the Strait of Hormuz to increase the price of oil.

Iran violently quelled the democratic aspirations of its citizens in 2009 and has actively supported the brutal crackdown on Syrian protesters. The Islamic Republic directly and through its proxies threatens stability in Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, Iraq, and the Gulf area. Iran is also responsible for many deaths of American and coalition troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As clear as it is today that a nuclear weapon in the hands of the Third Reich would have spelled catastrophe, so should it be clear with the Iranian theocracy. Even reformers with the best of intentions would need time to transform Iran’s governing system and political culture. The world must wait for major changes before concluding that Iran can be trusted with the world’s most dangerous weapons.

In the interest of fairness and good faith, the threat of overwhelming military force for non-compliance should be complemented by generous rewards for co-operation. In exchange for the verifiable dismantling of Iran’s entire nuclear program, the US should compensate Iran financially for related losses, offer adequate guarantees for Iranian security (adopted by the Security Council if needed), and provide economic benefits (like replacing economic sanctions with US and EU free trade agreements) that are collectively far more advantageous than a nuclear weapon would be. If the Iranian regime is peaceful (or rational), then it should readily accept such an attractive bargain. Otherwise, the regime clearly has bellicose intentions for its nuclear activities and must be stopped by the only world power that can do so swiftly and decisively.

Iran has frequently called for the destruction of Israel and has — despite the sanctions against it — actively worked to acquire the means to annihilate Israel whenever it chooses. Thus, every day the Middle East moves closer to an Armageddon-type showdown that could force Israel’s hand. Only the U.S. has the power to resolve the matter peacefully, with a grand bargain, and decisively, if necessary, with overwhelming force. Our world depends on such an intervention, and history is watching.

Noah Beck is the author of The Last Israelis, a doomsday novel about the Iranian nuclear threat. His editorial is largely based on the epilogue to that book.


  • This article by Noah Beck reflects my thoughts exactly. If Iran gets the nuclear weapon, they can cause untold damage by using it, or have their terrorist pawns, Hezbollah or Hamas, use it. Or just by the threat of using it they can destabilize the oil rich Arab states, and the whole western world.If Israel attacks, it is not fully likely that the whole Iranian nuclear weapons development will be halted, but even if it would be, there would be tens of thousands missiles aimed at Israel for months on end, causing enormous death and destruction in Israel, and to the people from amongst whom these terror groups fire their deadly missiles.
    The best solution is to scare the Ayatollah Khamenei into dropping the nuclear weapon program. Only the USA could do do this. But with the military run by people like Gen. Dempsey, and a Sec. of Defense like Sen. Hagel, and a President who appoints people who have their attitude, it is unlikely that the Ayatollah will be scared enough to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

  • iran will never attack Israel . a country with so much history and wealth would never and never has attacked any neighboring countries . unless it is attacked directly . it may how ever and has supplied to groups like hezbola and others military arsenals to pursue and show that she has to be taken seriously once in for all. 8 years of war with iraq which was financed partially if not entirely by the west! so many people died because of it . it wasn’t necessary .so when as a country as a mother as a father as a whole country you were told and it becomes clear that west who once was a closest allied of iran all of a sudden becomes its enemy by funneling money either direct or indirect to Sadam to use chemical weapons against iran and its own people …then off course it is only logical to make sure it doesn’t happen again !! don’t you think? after all what is the sole purpose of a any arsenal nuclear or other wise ? to make sure if a power beyond an ordinary (chemical) happen to be in the hands of enemy they think twice about using make all the sense .if iran was a culture of attacking barberians like most arab countries’ you can be sure they already had attacked so many neighboring counties like some of the arab counties we know of . so here is the message …if two rich guys are in business and one don’t want the other to be the one who dictates the who say what in the economic world the other or others will doctor up any propaganda just to brain wash the world and making it to believe in anything evil..having said that . that doesn’t make the regime look nice in it’s own internal affairs . it need to change ..for sure . people of iran want it changed and that is sufficient enough! ok i am tired of writing ..come on guys i would say nuclear iran with out its current regime . what do you think? in the right hand every body sleep better.

  • William L Hansen

    I am wondering why a beautiful nation such as Israel, with good, kind, and productive world citizens as you all are continues to put up with such unprovoked hatred and threats of annihilation. Snipers have always been a viable resource for any country that is threatened by leaders bent on destruction. Why do you not take out as many leaders of hate in Iran when they are all gathered together by a larger bullet? What is the difference between a rifle round armed at an antagonist leader and a very small, undetected smart bomb that will take out Ahmadinejad and his closest group of hate mongers? My gosh people you have the best military in the world, use your heads. Rabid dogs do not respond to kindness and reason. Just make sure when the bomb blows up it does not leave any trace of it’s country of origin. The whole world will wonder where it came from but who could prove it? Then let us hope that the next in line for leadership will be more moderate and in tune with western progress and prosperity. Godspeed and may peace be yours.

    William Hansen

  • Jeff Blankfort

    Oh please, not that comparison of Iran with Nazi Germany again! Ahmadinejad, the so-called modern day Hitler, is a lame duck president about to leave office,the Iranian army is not either in skills or armament in the same league with the German Wehrmacht and the US has Iran totally surrounded by land and sea. An attack by the US on Iran, when that country has attacked no one and offers no threat to the US would be “a crime against peace” according to international law which would no way justify a US attack.

    Should the US actually launch such an attack, the result would be Iranian sponsored terrorist attacks which would be only different in scale from America’s terror attack on Iran and the world would have little sympathy for the US launching a third unprovoked war on a Muslim country. Let us not forget, Afghanistan and the Taliban, whatever else it has done did not attack the US on 9/11.

  • Nervier again without retaliation!

    The Iranian government know this. The assumption that the US will always back Tel Aviv, especially after Netanahu, in a pre-emptive bombing is a stupid assumption. Iran is evolving demographically and her younger generation want western culture more than jihad with the Jews.

    Yes the world is watching!

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