Deciphering the Iranian Nuclear Red Line Controversy

Of late, the mainstream media and the U.S. Administration have been attacking Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s demand that President Obama set a specific “red line” which, if crossed, would trigger an immediate U.S. military response against Iran’s nuclear facilities. The common theme is that such a demand is an intrusion into U.S. presidential politics and contrary to American interests.

But is it in America’s interests to risk the establishment of a nuclear-armed fanatical Islamic regime theologically committed to the destruction of Western civilization? Given that Iran’s messianic apocalyptic regime is considered to be the largest exporter of terrorism in the world today according to U.S. State Department reports, allowing such a country to develop a nuclear shield under which it will export its Islamic revolution world-wide is madness.

Both the August 30th International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report and the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) have agreed that Iran has amassed a stockpile of low and medium-enriched uranium that, with further enrichment, could fuel as many as six nuclear weapons. Simply stated, Iran has progressed 70% of the way towards a bomb by enriching all of its uranium to a level of 3.5%. However, once it has enriched the uranium to a level of 20%, it will be 90% of the way towards the completion of a nuclear weapon. The President’s reasoning seems to be that only when the ayatollahs have actually decided to assemble a nuclear weapon will the final “red line” be crossed.

Problem is, his determination to set a red line at the 12th hour creates a situation where the Iranian decision to build a bomb may neither be timely detected nor effectively reversed, and the track record of America’s intelligence agencies leaves much to be desired……..

  • the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor
  • the Russian atomic bomb
  • the outbreak of the Korean War
  • the Cuban Missile Crisis
  • the 1973 Yom Kippur War
  • the 1979 Iranian Revolution
  • the failure to act on warnings from Egyptian authorities that could have prevented the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993
  • the failure to act on intelligence reports received prior to the 1998 al-Qaeda bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya
  • the failure to “connect the dots” and the low priority given to human intelligence prior to the 9-11 attacks
  • Saddam’s “weapons of mass destruction”
  • the intelligence failures relating to North Korea’s 1998 three-stage rocket launch and its surprise October 2006 underground nuclear weapons test
  • the failure to anticipate the results of the “Arab Spring” (or more accurately the “Islamist Winter”)
  • the deadly al-Qaeda attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and
  • the belief that the intolerant, aggressive, conspiracy-minded, virulently anti-Western and anti-Semitic, zero-sum, honor-shame culture of the Arab world that continues to wallow in its own sense of inferiority and totes a self-destructive primal rage against Western civilization would embrace liberal Western principles and produce an Arabic-speaking Jefferson or Lincoln – are just a few examples.

Moreover, while U.S. intelligence knew about India’s nuclear program, it was caught off guard by its May 1998 underground nuclear test which was followed by a surprise Pakistani nuclear test emerging from a program U.S. intelligence agencies had been monitoring for years. It should also be noted that Western intelligence discovered Iran’s Fordo underground nuclear facility in mid-2009 – a full eighteen months after secret construction on the site had begun.

Taking these intelligence failures into account, it is more than possible that Iran’s detonation of a nuclear bomb may well be the first indication that it has already crossed the nuclear threshold in which case it will be too late. This scenario is even more likely given Iran’s history of nuclear deception. (1) As has been said by the former deputy head of the IAEA, Ariel Levite, the U.S. approach has been “too early, too early, oops, too late.” The Iran Project, an independent study group of dozens of American experts, has concluded that, conservatively, it would take Iran a year or more to build a military-grade weapon, with two years or more to create a nuclear warhead that could be reliably deliverable by missile.” But if they are wrong, the result would be a nuclear Iran and an irreparable loss of U.S. regional power, prestige and credibility, not to mention the global expansion of Sharia law enforced by fear and intimidation from Iran’s terrorist surrogates.

From a strategic perspective, if Iran develops the bomb, Egypt, the Saudis and the Gulf Emirates would not doubt seek their own nuclear arsenals easily purchased from China, North Korea or Pakistan and the Strait of Hormuz – the gateway for a third of the world’s oil supply – would no longer become a viable waterway.

Given that no less than six “red lines” have been allowed to pass during the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations, the Iranians, no doubt, have concluded that there are no “red lines” that will elicit an American military response against them – which is why they have accelerated their work on uranium enrichment at the Natanz and Fordow facilities, their uranium conversion work in Isfahan, their heavy-water production at Arak, their weapons and munitions production at Parchin, and their light-water production at Bushehr.

The Iranians know full well that once they have obtained an atomic bomb, any and all “red lines” will become irrelevant.  And when U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey told a group of British reporters on August 30 that the U.S. “did not want to be complicit” in an Israeli strike on Iran, he was stating publicly what the Pentagon has already signaled to Tehran. The U.S. wants no part of an Israeli strike and will do everything possible to stop it.

What U.S. administration officials fail to realize is that Iran is not just an existential threat to Israel and a regional threat to the oil-rich Arab sheikdoms of the Middle East, but a global threat that is aimed at Western civilization led by the “Great Satan” (U.S.) to quote Iranian President Ahmedinejad. Islamists cannot reconcile with a secular system of laws. His hatred of America is not because of what it does; it’s because of what it is. His goal is to reduce U.S. influence in the Middle East, leading eventually to the eviction of America from the region. His fanatical comments and efforts to develop an atomic bomb are part and parcel of his concerted effort to destroy the West.

His theology is directly related to our liberal Western values which he perceives as depraved and dangerous. Jihadists like Ahmedinejad abhor U.S. civil liberties such as freedom of religion, association, expression, movement, economy and equality for women. In fact, all of the issues that Americans, Europeans, and Israelis fight over – such as the best way to achieve the greatest amount of equality for men, women and religious and ethnic minorities – are precisely the issues which the Iranians believe the Quran is telling them to eradicate and replace with Shariah law. In short, his demands cannot be reconciled with the modern world, so to believe that the Iranians can be dissuaded from this mission or from their nuclear quest through which they intend to further this mission is the height of folly.

Can any rational person believe for a moment that a nuclear Iran propelled by a fanatical, messianic religious belief in its final divine victory over Western civilization can be “contained” once it has developed an atomic bomb and secured a nuclear shield for itself and its murderous Islamist proxies? As we saw during the Cold War, jihadists react very differently from secular Marxists like the Russians. Scholar Bernard Lewis has written: “For the Ayatollahs of Iran, mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent. It’s an inducement. Iran’s apocalyptic leaders believe that a medieval holy man will reappear in the wake of a devastating Holy War, thereby insuring that their brand of radical Islam will rule the earth. That’s not just what they believe; that’s what is actually guiding their policies and their actions.”

As a result, destroying the Iranian reactors is not only in Israel’s interest; it is necessary in the interests of Western civilization. Britain, France, Germany, the U.S., Russia and China have been negotiating with Iran for almost a decade to dissuade it from pursuing its nuclear program in exchange for both political and economic incentives, but all efforts have proven futile, and it is becoming increasingly apparent that neither economic sanctions, nor military threats, nor assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, nor covert activities, nor cyber-viruses like “Stuxnet” and “Flame” will stop Iran’s nuclear quest.

Consequently, rather than attacking Netanyahu for demanding a specific U.S. “red line” for military action against the Iranian reactors, the U.S. would be better advised to work with the Israelis and Europeans to eliminate this global threat before it’s too late. Iran’s missiles can reach not only Israel, but Western European capitals and even Moscow, and America’s Arab allies have been just as adamant in private as is Israel in public in wanting the U.S. to use all means necessary to prevent a nuclear Iran.

Netanyahu’s demand for a “red line” is not about elections in America. It’s about centrifuges in Iran and the global ramifications of a nuclear-armed fanatical Iranian regime that had no qualms in sending a hundred thousand Iranian children scurrying through Iraqi minefields in the 1980s. Nor would it have any qualms in transferring nuclear dirty bombs to its global terrorist proxies to attack West capitals with the same regard that it exhibits in supplying thousands of missiles to Hezbollah to attack Israel.

The U.S. is assuming that the Iranians will not move to build their bomb – something we won’t know until after they’ve conducted their first nuclear test (as was the case with Russia, India, North Korea and Pakistan) by which time, if past intelligence failures are any indication, it will be too late. Unfortunately, the idea that the most powerful weapon on Earth is in the hands of the most dangerous nation on the planet doesn’t seem to elicit the same degree of urgency on the part of the U.S. that it does with the rest of the Western world, so Netanyahu’s determination to pin down President Obama to take action against Iran makes perfect sense and is fully justified.

If European leaders had denied Hitler the Saar, the Rhineland, the Sudetenland and ultimately Czechoslovakia, World War II and the deaths of over fifty million people could have been averted. Hitler told his generals: “Our enemies are little worms. I saw them at Munich.” No doubt the Iranian mullahs are telling their generals the same thing. Unfortunately, Washington’s pathetic display of weakness towards a fanatical terrorist Islamist regime that uses negotiations to buy time for nuclear weapons development signifies the unmistakable sound of a superpower in retreat, and both our allies and our enemies recognize it. Nature abhors a vacuum and Iran is now moving quickly to fill that vacuum and declare its ascendancy. The President dismissed Israel’s concerns about Iran as mere “noise” that he prefers to “block out”, but he fails to realize that keeping the peace requires strength. Later will be too late, and there will be no second chance.


  1. Dore Gold, “Iran and Nuclear Deception”, Israel Hayom, October 5, 2012

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