Now here’s a strategy to achieve this. First, smile a lot. Smiling never hurts. Second, pay lip service to peace, democracy and tolerance. Third, offer meaningless concessions in exchange for lifting sanctions. And fourth, and the most important, ensure that Iran retains sufficient nuclear material and sufficient nuclear infrastructure to race to the bomb at a time it chooses to do so.
You know why Rouhani thinks he can get away with this? I mean, this is a ruse. It’s a ploy. Why does Rouhani think he — thinks he can get away with it? Because — because he’s gotten away with it before, because his strategy of talking a lot and doing little has worked for him in the past.
He even brags about this. Here’s what he said in his 2011 book about his time as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, and I quote: “While we were talking to the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in Isfahan.”
Now, for those of you who don’t know, the Isfahan facility is an indispensable part of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. That’s where uranium ore called yellowcake is converted into an enrichable form. Rouhani boasted, and I quote, “By creating a calm environment — a calm environment — we were able to complete the work in Isfahan.” He fooled the world once. Now he thinks he can fool it again.
You see, Rouhani thinks he can have his yellowcake and eat it too. And he has another reason to believe that he can get away with this. And that reason is called North Korea. Like Iran, North Korea also said its nuclear program was for peaceful purposes. Like Iran, North Korea also offered meaningless concessions and empty promises in return for sanctions relief.
In 2005 North Korea agreed to a deal that was celebrated the world over by many well-meaning people. Here’s what the New York Times editorial had to say about it, quote: “For years now, foreign policy insiders have pointed to North Korea as the ultimate nightmare, a closed, hostile and paranoid dictatorship with an aggressive nuclear weapons program. Very few could envision a successful outcome, and yet North Korea agreed in principle this week to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, return to the NPT, abide by the treaty’s safeguards and admit international inspectors.”
And finally, “diplomacy, it seems, does work after all. Ladies and gentlemen, a year later, North Korea exploded its first nuclear weapons device.”
Yet, as dangerous as a nuclear-armed North Korea is, it pales in comparison to the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran. A nuclear-armed Iran would have a choke hold on the world’s main energy supplies. It would trigger nuclear proliferation throughout the Middle East, turning the most unstable part of the planet into a nuclear tinderbox. And for the first time in history, it would make the specter of nuclear terrorism a clear and present danger. A nuclear-armed Iran in the Middle East wouldn’t be another North Korea. It would be another 50 North Koreas.
Now, I know that some in the international community think I’m exaggerating this threat. Sure, they know that Iran’s regime leads these chants, “death to America, death to Israel,” that it pledges to wipe Israel off the map. But they think that this wild rhetoric is just bluster for domestic consumption. Have these people learned nothing from history? The last century has taught us that when a radical regime with global ambitions gets awesome power, sooner or later its appetite for aggression knows no bounds.
That’s the central lesson of the 20th century. And we cannot forget it. The world may have forgotten this lesson. The Jewish people have not.
Iran’s fanaticism is not bluster. It’s real. The fanatic regime must never be allowed to arm itself with nuclear weapons. I know that the world is weary of war. We in Israel, we know all too well the cost of war. But history has taught us that to prevent war tomorrow, we must be firm today.
And this raises the question, can diplomacy stop this threat? Well, the only diplomatic solution that would work is one that fully dismantles Iran’s nuclear weapons program and prevents it from having one in the future.