Getting serious with Iran

Published 1:22 am Monday, April 24, 2006

By By Tray Smith
Global tensions over Iran's nuclear program have increased dramatically in the past two weeks in the aftermath of the country's announcement that it had successfully enriched uranium. Uranium enrichment is the process that creates the fuel required to produce nuclear power or build a nuclear warhead. Iran contends that its efforts are peaceful and are intended only for energy production. However, the United States and its European allies suspect that Iran secretly intends to use its nuclear technology to build an atomic bomb, which intelligence experts estimate will only take four years.
Iran is a strategically located country in the world's most unstable region. In his 2002 State of the Union Address, President Bush dubbed it as part of an axis of evil that also included Iraq and North Korea. Since then, our relations with Iran have gotten substantially worse, and it is believed that the Iranian government may be contributing to the Iraqi insurgency. Iran also supports the terrorist organization Hezbollah, which launches regular attacks against Israel. It is the world's fourth largest exporter of oil and it sends about 2.5 million barrels of petroleum abroad every day. It also controls important oil trade routs in the Middle East.
Because of Iran's vast energy resources, I am skeptical of the claim that their nuclear program is intended only for energy production. Given their extensive petroleum reserves, they have no need for any form of nuclear power. I am also weary of their clerical leaders and their recently selected President, who is beyond a doubt crazy. He has recently vowed to the destruction of Israel and denied that the Holocaust ever occurred.
These events have led to concerns among Western nations, who have stated that Iran may not have a nuclear weapon. The United Nations Security Council has also mandated that Iran suspend all activities related to uranium enrichment. That organization is currently awaiting a report from the U.N. nuclear watchdog that will detail Iran's compliance with the council mandate.
However, there is little consensus among the world's major powers on how to move forward. While Great Britain, Germany, France, and the United States favor tougher sanctions against Iran, Russia and China are threatening to veto any such measures from enactment by the Security Council. The United States remains the only country that has not yet ruled out the military option.
In order for diplomatic efforts to succeed, Iran must indeed believe that it will face a military attack if it does not cooperate. Yet, it is clear that the United States cannot feasibly attack Iran. We have already invaded and overthrown the governments of Iran's two neighbors. A huge insurgency has revolted against our presence in Iraq. If we were to attack Iran, we would loose all of our remaining shreds of credibility in the Middle East. Terrorist like bin Laden would be able to use our actions to paint us as a global superpower with imperialistic intentions. They would claim that we were seeking to take over "their Holy Land." The terrorist would also be able to recruit more Muslims to bomb more targets. Such an attack would make us much less secure.
Our country also lacks the resources to fight a third war. President Bush does not have near the political capital he needs to begin another strike on another country, especially while public opinion is as negative on his handling of Iraq as it is now.
Therefore, we should encourage Israel to station its military forces as close to Iran as possible. We should also pledge to fully support Israel should Iran confront the nation. Finally, we should encourage Israel to demand that Iran cooperate with the international community or face an Israeli strike.
Israel would not experience more terrorism because most Arabs already hate the country. They are also a feared power in the Middle East, and Iranian's could easily expect Israel to be able to conduct such a strike. Support would be given to such efforts from the Israeli people as well, because they understand the danger of Iran gaining an atomic weapon.
In the meantime, we should devote all of our available resources to promoting regime change from within Iran. We should support and encourage Iranian's who are willing to fight for their freedom, with the eventual goal of bringing the Iranian regime down without any U.S. military involvement. After several failures on Iraq, I am confident the administration will not make the same mistakes with Iran. I am confident that Secretary Rice along with President Bush will be able to make the right decisions and keep America safe. They key will be Secretary Rice.
That is the bottom line.
Tray Smith is a freshman at Escambia Academy. He can be reached for comment at His column appears weekly.

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