Topic: Nuclear Terrorism
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In a recent editorial, The Wall Street Journal analyzed the Kerry-Edwards nuclear arms control policies. The policy as to North Korea is laughably naive. The policy as to Iran is flat- out insane:
Mr. Edwards recently said that a Kerry Administration would allow Tehran to fire up its Russian-built nuclear reactors, and even provide them with fuel, so long as the mullahs agreed to let the international community repossess the weapons- usable byproducts.
This too is the triumph of hope over experience. Just yesterday the member countries of the International Atomic Energy Agency were meeting in Vienna to discuss the next steps in response to nearly 20 years of Iranian deception. Two years ago an Iranian resistance group alerted the world to Iran's previously undeclared nuclear sites, and subsequent inspections have provoked a familiar pattern of bluster and lies that practically screams "bomb program."
Henry Sokolski of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center points out that the fresh nuclear fuel that Messrs. Kerry and Edwards want to give the mullahs is already halfway along the enrichment process toward being weapons-usable. With sophisticated and hidden enrichment capabilities of the type we know Iran already has, the country could be within days of having a bomb core were it to seize and divert the reactor fuel. In any case, the mullahs are currently ruling out the possibility of a Kerry-Edwards type deal, demanding to be recognized as a normal nuclear nation with a right to control all stages of its nuclear fuel cycle.
IAEA member states are increasingly frustrated by the mullahs' deceptions and may be ready to refer them to the U.N. Security Council for sanctions by next time the IAEA meets in November. We wish we could be more confident that the Bush Administration was working on pre-emptive military options should they become necessary. But at least it has refused to accept the inevitability of a Persian nuke. "We're determined that they're not going to achieve a nuclear-weapons capability," says Undersecretary of State John Bolton.
The essence of the Kerry-Edwards proposals, by contrast, is that if Iran and North Korea have a history of dealing in bad faith it's because we Americans aren't being cooperative enough. "The idea that there's a big bargain out there that the Iranians will live up to is nutty in light of the last six months," says the Nonproliferation Center's Mr. Sokolski.
So Americans really are getting a proliferation policy choice presented to them this November. If voters think that arms-control agreements like those in the 1970s and during the Clinton years are the best way to rein in rogue states with nuclear ambitions, they should vote for the Kerry-Edwards ticket.