Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Iran’s Peaceful Annihilation Program

by Elliott Abrams
February 22, 2012


The “peaceful nature” of Iran’s nuclear program has taken a curious blow. The wife of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan Behdast, an Iranian nuclear scientist killed in Tehran in January, has told the press that “Mostafa’s ultimate goal was the annihilation of Israel.”

Roshan worked at the enrichment facility at Natanz, a key part of Iran’s “peaceful” nuclear program. His widow apparently did not get the message from the authorities in time, so she told the truth. In dictatorships like Iran that is almost always a mistake, but viewed from the Supreme Leader’s offices her heart was of course in the right place.

Her praise of her husband should help inform our debate over the nature and objectives of Iran’s nuclear program. The official U.S. position is that it is “unacceptable” for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, and this is a reminder that that should be our actual policy as well. The risks of preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state are not as great as those we will incur if we back away from that clear goal.

Post a Comment 5 Comments

  • Posted by Dean Smallwood

    The Obama administration continues to look like the impotent adult admonishing a child for its “unacceptable” behavior even as the brat proceeds to knock over the furniture and pull the cat’s tail .

    Obama relishes refering to himself as “the adult in the room” but seems deathly afraid of the brat in the room .

  • Posted by Mrs MM Reynolds

    Is this going to be published, prominently, in all newspapers? Those with a free press. That would be a good thing. It is about time people become informed of the realities.

    If that were the case, then people may be less likely to castigate those in power who try to fight that which is wrong, wherever on the globe.
    President Obama is, no doubt hampered by the fact that he has not got the backing of both houses, plus the fact that if he goes into any country he cannot promise an exact date when he will come out. And if anyone thinks that a president is not effected by the death of his own countries young people in a war-zone, then you have not thought through the whole question. Would you be able to say, “Go”?

  • Posted by Mark Woodworth, Ph.D.

    Obama, and Progressive Foreign policy in general, is a much like Neville Chamberlain Appeasement strategy prior to WWII. One can not successfully negotiate with another party that is in bad faith. North Korea, Iran, Taliban all are driven by ideologies that do not permit compromise. Their ‘negotiations’ prey on the West’s tendency toward wishful thinking and western values that suggest rationality among all players. It would be devastating to Western interests for Iran to have nuclear weapons, so we must act now, before too it is too late, not by useless sanctions but by the application of military force.

  • Posted by D. Scott

    The accompanying article in this issue concerning Iraq as a failed state is demonstrative of the results of the wild bets placed when the dogs of war are loosed.

    Just as we assumed that 1. Saddam would soon have nuclear weapons, and 2. he would use them against us as soon as he got them, and 3. he would be effective in delivering them through his allies in al-Queda, so also is the argument about Iran’s nuke full of miscalculations.

    Israel, quite understandably, wants to hold on to its illegal monopoly on nukes in the ME. But to think that the leaders of iran would essentially become suicide bombers willing to destroy their country and cripple its religion in order to strike a blow against Israel is to buy into Israel’s brand of paranoia as well as to support its resistance to negotiating a state for Palestine.

    But Obama is no George Bush nor are we in a position to support yet another war in the almost prostrate ME. Israel may well take its shot, but find that US support is mainly from the grandstands.

  • Posted by Anon

    Not sure it’s ever been all that relevant a consideration to those of you who unquestioningly assume the UNC Article 2(4) prohibition against the threat or use of force does not apply to the self-annointedly exceptional America, but you may find it more difficult to assemble a “coalition of the willing [to overlook the illegality of military adventurism for the benefits of alliance]” this time around.

    Australia’s new Foreign Minister, for instance, went on TV a couple of weeks ago (admittedly, when no rational observer could or would have predicted his ascension to the office), and announced, in response to the criminally irresponsible campaign-trail war-mongering of Gingrich and Santorum (balanced against an admiring assessment of Ron Paul’s consistent rationality):

    “I’m really settled on this view; after the last two wars, Afghanistan and Iraq, I think the world is entitled to distrust and not trust American intelligence – American assessment of these situations. I don’t think the great democracy, of whom we generally feel so fond, has got it right in a way that can persuade us that, this time, they’ll pull it off.”

    He also, 5 days before his shock appointment late in the week, posted a link to Fareed Zakaria’s statement of “The Case Against Attacking Iran” to his wordpress blog.

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