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Another View: We cannot afford more nuclear threats

Published: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 11:52 p.m. CDT

As Iran continues to advance its nuclear weapons program, Barack Obama and his allies seem to be negotiating against themselves – easing sanctions and volunteering concessions in exchange for talk.

This is a terribly counterproductive posture for American diplomacy.

The most recent slippage came from Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman. Iran, she said last weekend, may need a small nuclear program for “practical needs,” and while she “would like there to be zero enrichment,” that is an “unlikely” expectation.

No. Iran, an energy-rich state, has no practical need for nuclear power. Zero. It is transparently negotiating to buy time to reach breakout capability to weaponize uranium, and such declarations make that outcome likelier.

When America betrays such lack of discipline, its allies are that much likelier to follow. In Jerusalem last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel sounded resigned to seeing Iran continue to enrich uranium.

“We will take it step by step and see which compromises can be made and which are the ones that cannot be made,” she said. “We have set out on the path of lower enrichment, but enrichment does take place.”

Standing beside her, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, offered the sort of stark declaration that is the only sensible negotiating posture:

“The goal is to prevent Iran from having the capability to manufacture and deliver nuclear weapons,” he said. “I believe that means zero enrichment, zero centrifuges, zero plutonium, and of course an end to ICBM development. Because none of these elements – none of them – is necessary for developing civilian nuclear energy, which is what Iran has claimed that it wants.”

He continued: “We cannot have a world in which fanatic regimes, irresponsible regimes, have atomic bombs. We cannot afford to have that replicated by a regime that I say is the equivalent of 50 North Koreas – having weapons that could threaten not only the security of Israel and the security of Germany, but the security of the entire world.”

Heed those clear words. Use every ounce of leverage to force total disarmament.

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