Sunday, February 13

IRAN PERSISTS IN CHALLENGING THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION

As if North Korea's intransigence were not enough of a handful for the Bush Administration, Iran has announced that it intends to continue its construction of a heavy water nuclear reactor, a clear indication of its determination to build nuclear weapons capabilities. President Bush is already on record as having warned of consequences should they proceed, but that implicit threat of a U.S. knockout punch has gone unheeded. Thus far, and citing (as did his Democratic challenger John Kerry) nuclear proliferation as the #1 threat to America's peace and security, the president has been unable to make any headway, and particularly as it relates to the thorny issues of North Korea's known capability and Iran's aspirations for one.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has stepped up the heated war of words in recent days, warning somewhat ambiguously of "next steps" for the United States to take should Iran obstinately persist in its nuclear program, but then reinforcing in the same breath that the U.S. is intent on using diplomatic measures, rather than force -- the use of force being "not on the agenda at this point in time." Those words may have been designed more to allay the fears of European allies, than to signal to Iran that the U.S. is softening its hard line. Most think it improbable that the United States would ultimately acquiesce and watch Iran develop and grow a nuclear arsenal. Surely Israel could not countenance that.