Oil-rich, Islamist Iran says it is pursuing nuclear power for peaceful purposes--energy and cancer treatment. But the scale of the Iranian nuclear program--and the location of the underground Iranian reactors--only make sense if Iran's real purpose is to produce nuclear weapons.
Experts disagree about Iran's ability to produce an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Some analysts say Iran is close to or already capable of attacking the United States with an ICBM; others say Iran is several years or even decades away from having this capability.
Unfortunately, Iran doesn't need an ICBM to attack the U.S. homeland. Iran can use so-called scuds in buckets--seemingly civilian freighters flying flags of convenience--to strike U.S. coastal cities with ballistic missiles. The missiles can be fired from specially designed launch pads that on the outside look just like ordinary shipping containers. Such systems are readily available to nations and terrorists. Iran and its partner in proliferation, North Korea, have test-fired missiles from cargo vessels. There is no known defense against a sea-launched missile attack on a U.S. coastal city. (Nor is there any known defense against a sea-launched EMP attack on the U.S.--detonation of a nuclear warhead high above the country's heartland in order to destroy all computerized and electronic and most electrical systems.)
Iran isn't a run-of-the-mill tyranny. It isn't even a run-of-the-mill fascist dictatorship--like Franco's Spain, for example. Iran is a clerical fascist power that is overtly pursuing a foreign policy of imperialism, meaning, a policy that is aimed at radically altering the status quo, or power relationships among nations. History has shown that countries committed to imperialist foreign policies cannot be appeased. In the 1930s, the European powers learned this lesson the hard way by appeasing Nazi Germany. Not only did appeasement fail to preserve the peace; the policy made war inevitable--on Germany's terms.
At a minimum, Iran intends to destroy Israel and to drive the U.S. out of the Middle East for once and all. At a maximum, Iran intends to destroy the U.S., too. Not for nothing has Iran's president mused openly about a "world without America and Zionism."
In spite of Iran's apocalyptic, Islamist ideology, it could be argued that the totalitarian country could be deterred from directly attacking the U.S. with nuclear weapons. Be that as it may, there is no reason to assume that a nuclear-armed Iran could be deterred from indirectly attacking the U.S. through terrorist proxies and allies. The only truly meaningful deterrence against an anonymous and deniable atomic attack on the U.S. would be an iron-clad pledge by a U.S. administration to automatically obliterate Iran and other suspect nations should a nuclear device of any kind ever be detonated on or above U.S. soil. Barack Obama will never make such a pledge; he has been committed to nuclear disarmament and arms control since his undergraduate student days at Columbia University. Among Obama's Republican opponents, Newt Gingrich is arguably most likely to adopt a policy of meaningful deterrence, and to enunciate it in a way that will cause Iran to refrain from even thinking about plotting the ultimate terrorist strike on "the Great Satan."
ENDNOTE: In sharp contrast with U.S. policy, there can be no doubt that Israel has put in place fail-safe systems for the automatic obliteration of its enemies in the event of an atomic attack of any kind--direct or indirect--against the Jewish State.
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