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To: seamole; DoctorZIn; McGavin999; Eala; piasa; Valin; nuconvert; Texas_Dawg; kattracks; RaceBannon; ..
If Iran is building the bomb: Deter, don’t attack

In recent weeks, there have been many reports that Iran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons and is close to building a nuclear bomb. The Iranians deny any military nuclear ambitions and insist that their nuclear program is merely designed to meet increasing electricity demands. Skeptics, of course, question why Iran ­ with the third largest known oil reserves in the world and the second largest proven natural gas reserves ­ needs nuclear electrical power plants that would cost billions of dollars to build.
The skeptics have reason to doubt Iran’s true intentions. But the real question, from an American perspective at least, is whether Iran represents a threat to US national security.
It’s easy to understand why Iran would be interested in acquiring nuclear weapons. In his January 2002 State of the Union address, US President George W. Bush named Iran, Iraq and North Korea as “an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world.” In September 2002, the Bush administration published a new National Security Strategy that highlighted pre-emptive action “to act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed.” At the time, it was clear that the rhetoric was aimed mainly at Iraq, but the Iranians could read the tea leaves. If there was uncertainty that Iran would be on Washington’s “regime change” hit parade, not long after the US dispatched former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein’s regime, the rhetoric turned to neighboring Iran.
The subsequent US military action in Iraq also revealed the vulnerability of countries that lack nuclear weapons in the face of overwhelming American conventional military superiority. The lesson not lost on the Iranians is that they should accelerate acquiring nuclear weapons because that may be the only way to prevent a fate similar to Saddam Hussein’s. Indeed, one reason the US is currently taking a more measured approach to North Korea is because of Pyongyang’s credible claim to possess nuclear weapons. Thus, there is every reason to believe that Tehran’s interest in nukes has more to do with deterring Washington from engaging in regime change than with attacking the United States.
Even if the Iranians acquired nuclear weapons, they do not have any long-range military capability to deliver them against the continental United States (and they are believed to be 10 years or more away from developing an intercontinental ballistic missile capability). Further, there is no substantive evidence that a nuclear-armed Iran would be undeterred from attacking the US. That does not mean that Washington would be able to deter Tehran from taking action that could run counter to American wishes. But deterrence is about preventing countries from taking catastrophic action against the US. Even the mullahs in Tehran understand that a nuclear attack against the US is an invitation to certain destruction, courtesy of the American strategic nuclear arsenal of more than 8,000 warheads. Because long-range missiles (which Iran does not currently have) carry a return address, one would have to believe that Iran’s leaders are suicidal terrorists to think they could lob a nuke at the United States with impunity.
A legitimate concern is that Iran might secretly give a nuclear weapon to terrorists. This was the concern expressed about Iraq when Bush said: “Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof ­ the smoking gun ­ that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.” And a better case can be made for Iran’s support of terrorism than Iraq’s. Whereas Iraq supported low-level anti-Israeli Palestinian groups ­ such as the Arab Liberation Front, the Palestine Liberation Front and Abu Nidal’s organization ­ Iran backs Hizbullah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, all of which have a history of terrorism against Israel.
But as atrocious as their attacks against Israeli civilians are, the terrorist groups supported by Iran do not currently attack the United States (previous attacks by Hizbullah occurred in Lebanon in the 1980s in retaliation for the US military presence there). And it is a leap of faith to assume that if Iran acquired nuclear weapons, it would give them away to terrorists. Indeed, the evidence is to the contrary ­ Iran is thought to possess chemical and biological weaponry, but it has not given such weapons to groups fighting Israel. In fact, Israel’s estimated 100 or more nuclear weapons likely serve as an effective deterrent against nuclear attack and against Iran giving nukes to anti-Israeli terrorists.
It is not unreasonable to assume that the US nuclear arsenal would have a similar effect on Iran. Indeed, perhaps the ultimate deterrent against Iran providing nuclear weapons to terrorists might be for Washington to explicitly declare that such action would be a certain regime-ending event (and that Iran would be at or near the top of a very short list of suspects).
More importantly, although Iran may be a fundamentalist Islamic regime, this does not necessarily make it an ally of Al-Qaeda ­ the true national security threat to the United States. Osama Bin Laden’s stated goal is to establish a new Islamic caliphate based on his twisted interpretation of the Koran, and it is unclear how the current regime in Tehran would fit into his vision. But it’s easy to see how harsh American rhetoric against Iran, including implied threats of military action, could give reason for Iran and Al-Qaeda to form an alliance of convenience.
To be sure, nuclear weapons in the hands of the Iranian regime would not be a welcome development, and the US cannot afford to ignore Iran’s quest for such weapons. But Washington needs to do better than an “either or” strategy, where Iran either gives up its nuclear ambition or faces pre-emptive US military action. Another war against a Muslim nation after Afghanistan and Iraq will be interpreted as a holy war against Islam by much of the Muslim world. That is what bin Laden wants but has been unable to accomplish on his own.
During the Cold War, the wizards of Armageddon thought about the unthinkable: nuclear war with the Soviet Union. The current situation with Iran also requires thinking about the unthinkable ­ in this case, the possibility of a nuclear-armed fundamentalist Islamic state. While seeking to prevent this possible outcome, the US must also be prepared for its eventuality. As in North Korea, the remaining member of the axis of evil, Washington should be more focused on ensuring that Iran will not proliferate nuclear weapons technology should it acquire nukes.

Charles V. Pena is the director of defense policy studies at the Cato Institute, www.cato.org. He wrote this commentary for THE DAILY STAR

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/26_08_03_e.asp
13 posted on 08/26/2003 3:50:44 AM PDT by F14 Pilot
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To: DoctorZIn; McGavin999; Eala; piasa; Valin; nuconvert; Texas_Dawg; kattracks; RaceBannon; seamole; ..
Aug. 26, 2003. 01:00 AM
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Two face trial in Iran beating

MARY GORDON
STAFF REPORTER

OTTAWA—Two Iranian officials have been detained and ordered to stand trial in the beating death of Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, Tehran's prosecutor's office said yesterday.

The Islamic Republic News Agency reported the two "interrogators" have not been named in what Iran's criminal court inspector is calling a "quasi-intentional murder."

Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham welcomed the news as "a very positive step," although he said he had yet to confirm the details of the charges.

"This is the beginning of understanding why she died ... and who will be held responsible," he said after a speech in Los Angeles, adding: "We expect access to the trial process."

France Bureau, a spokesperson for Graham, said more details might emerge today when Javad Esmaeili — the judge who has been leading the inquiry into Kazemi's death — is expected to deliver a report.

"The charges levelled against the interrogators, who are said to be members of the intelligence ministry, are announced as complicity in semi-intentional murder," the Iranian news agency said, quoting the Tehran prosecutor's office.

Kazemi's son indicated he had little confidence in the way the Iranians are handling the case.

"The Iranians do it as they want it," Stephan Hachemi said in a phone interview from his Montreal home. "They arrest a few people that are minor."

Hachemi said he believes those responsible for his mother's death go beyond the two suspects.

Iranian authorities had said earlier that five intelligence and prison officials were arrested in connection with Kazemi's death. It was not clear whether the two now ordered to stand trial are among the five arrested.

Kazemi, a Montreal-based freelance photojournalist, was arrested June 23 while taking photos outside Tehran's notoriously harsh Evin prison. She was interrogated for more than three days and later transferred to a hospital, where officials said she died July 10 of a brain hemorrhage from a blow to the head.

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, whose reformist government has clashed with the religious clerics who control the judiciary, security and intelligence forces, ordered an investigation into her death.

Kazemi's violent death and quick burial in Iran outraged Canadians and caused a rift in relations between Ottawa and Iran.

Iran's foreign minister, Kamal Kharazzi, had said he would listen to the wishes of the Canadian government and Kazemi's family, who wanted her body returned to Canada. But the 54-year-old's remains were buried July 23 in her southern Iranian birthplace of Shiraz.

As an act of diplomatic protest, Canada recalled its ambassador, Philip MacKinnon. He remains in Ottawa and no date has been set for his return, Bureau said.

A statement from the prosecutor's office that was faxed to IRNA said the investigation into Kazemi's death included reviewing an earlier presidential report, "viewing and inspecting all locations where Zahra Kazemi was" and "questioning all persons who had responsibilities in those locations and were in touch with (her)."

Other activities included "getting the professional opinion of forensic experts where necessary," "investigating Zahra Kazemi's mother," "investigating the medical background of Zahra Kazemi sent from the hospital" and "establishment of a medical commission with the presence of specialist doctors."

The statement said the investigation involved questioning at the intelligence ministry, Evin prison and all prisons of Tehran province, "inspecting all records related to locations where Zahra Kazemi was" and "getting expert opinion of official justice experts on the signatures and writings of Zahra Kazemi in her final interrogation."

Finally, the statement said "there were other investigations that were effective in terms of the final decision, but, due to legal limitations, their publication at this stage is not possible."

An intelligence ministry official, speaking to IRNA, said claims the two officials were involved in Kazemi's death are "sheer lies." The intelligence ministry intended to release details surrounding Kazemi's death soon, the official added without elaborating.

Sharam Golestaneh, president of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran, said he's not surprised Iran has not released the names of the two interrogators, and laughed at the description of the crime as "quasi-intentional."

"Suppose that a judge says in a court, `Well, he quasi-murdered someone.' What does that mean? Nothing."

He said Iran's officials have made similar pronouncements before, including after bloody police raids on dormitories at Tehran University in 1999. "We know now, those who have been actually condemned and sent to prison, they showed up again this year in the student demonstrations and were beating them."

He said that if names were to be released, they likely wouldn't belong to anyone high-ranking, such as Saeed Mortazavi, the Tehran prosecutor who many reformists believe delivered the fatal blow to Kazemi.

Wayne Cox, an international relations professor at Queen's University who specializes in the Middle East, said the Islamic clerics will likely want to get to the bottom of the case, but disclosing the details would probably not occur without a major political shift in Iran.

"We may find out precisely what happened in more detail in a couple of years from now, just like after the (Berlin) Wall fell down, then we started to hear things years later about what went on in the Soviet Union," he said.

Kazemi's son complained again yesterday that Ottawa hasn't pushed hard enough to have his mother's body brought home. But Graham insisted Ottawa has been "keeping pressure" on Iran.

http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1061849412371&call_pageid=968332188492&col=968793972154
14 posted on 08/26/2003 3:58:51 AM PDT by F14 Pilot (Don't Get Off The Boat...)
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