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Iranian nuclear threat deserves greater attention, concern

On a recent episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the host and his guest, former Security Advisor Richard Clarke, discussed the possibility of a U.S.-led invasion of Iran in response to the country’s claims that it is rapidly developing technology that would enable the construction of nuclear weapons.

Stewart joked, “When the Bush administration invaded Iraq, they were only off by one letter,” implying that President George W. Bush invaded the wrong country.

Stewart’s quip, while funny, is also eerily true.

Just across Iraq’s eastern border, Iran is, without a doubt, nearly capable of building nuclear weapons. We didn’t even need inspectors or spy planes to know; they admitted it.

On Sept. 21, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, announced in Vienna that Iran had begun converting uranium into gas, a critical step in producing fuel for reactors and bombs. United States analysts now conclude that Iran is only about a year away from gaining nuclear self-sufficiency.

Iran, however, claims their intentions are nonviolent.

“We have made our choice,” Iranian president Mohammad Khatami said. “Yes to peaceful nuclear technology and no to nuclear weapons.” It is worth noting that Khatami made this statement while attending a military parade featuring missiles draped with signs that read “Crush America” and “Wipe Israel Off The Map,” according to the Associated Press.

Right. Peaceful.

The Bush administration has since denounced Iran’s peaceful intentions and believes Khatami aims to create nuclear weapons technology.

But all this sounds too familiar. Does anyone recall when Bush described another Middle Eastern country and its ability to build nuclear weapons; how it disallowed inspectors and must be stopped with or without the blessings of the United Nations to intervene?

Now, though, there is a peculiar difference. During an interview Monday on The O’Reilly Factor, President Bush said he “hopes that we can solve this diplomatically. We are working our hearts out so that (Iran) doesn’t develop a nuclear weapon, and the best way to do so is to continue to keep international pressure on them.”

Even with worldwide attention to the matter, Iran has no plans to halt the development of their nuclear program, with Khatami going as far as to say, “Iran is determined to obtain peaceful atomic technology even if it causes the stop of international supervision.”

When Iraq’s nuclear potential was nothing more than speculation, the Bush administration invaded without the blessing of the United Nations. Now, with proof that Iran is swiftly becoming capable, they morph into diplomats, saying that they are not pursuing an “Iraq-style” U.N. Security Council resolution.

It is important to note that this is not Iran’s first run-in with nuclear laws and treaties. For example, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has violated the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty numerous times. In June 2003, elements of highly enriched uranium were discovered in a nuclear facility in Iran. In Feb. 2004, it was uncovered that Iran secretly possessed blueprints for a centrifuge design that made uranium enrichment possible.

It is also important to note that this is not the first time the United States has noticed these transgressions. For instance, The United States continues to lobby the IAEA and the U.N. Security Council to further their investigations of Iran’s multiple violations of the NNT.

With the Iraq situation becoming worse everyday (1,051 U.S. casualties as of Sept. 27) and the president up for reelection, the Bush administration has painted itself into a corner and is now demonstrating an inconsistent method of dealing with nuclear-defiant countries. Suddenly, diplomacy is a valuable tool in confronting threats such as Iran, and the resulting stench of hypocrisy is overwhelming.

In his 2001 State of the Union address, Bush lumped Iraq, Iran and North Korea into an “axis of evil.” By focusing solely on Iraq, the president has limited his diplomatic leverage and weakened his military might. When he invaded Iraq, he picked the least of three evils. It may cost him the election, but it may cost the world much more than that.

John Calkins is a junior majoring in mass communications.