Hold Iran accountable for nuclear pursuits
By Joshua Block
South Florida Sun Sentinel
December 4, 2014
Read the full article at: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/opinion/commentary/fl-jbcol-oped1205-20141204-story.html
an unrepentant sponsor of terrorism that abhors Western values, Iran just successfully circumvented another deadline surrounding its negotiations with the P5+1 world powers in Vienna. With another diplomatic deadline calendared, it is imperative world leaders finally hold Iran accountable after having exhausted diplomatic efforts and hit the pause button on effective economic sanctions. The clock continues to tick, and the world simply cannot afford to gift more time to an intransigent regime with so much blood on its hands.
Another interim deal in the absence of new pressure would be very dangerous, allowing the Iranians to drag out negotiations indefinitely while continuing to amass more material for nuclear weapons, working to ready their plutonium reactor, and advancing their ability to break out rapidly in the future.
Over the last few months alone, Iran has made headlines in the Arab, Western and Iranian press tracking its footprints of terror. Whether reporting on the new branch of Hezbollah that Iran created in Syria, the fighters and ammunitions it sent to Iraq, the arms deals it made with ISIS in return for oil, or its threats to send millions of fighters to the Gaza Strip to join the "struggle" against Israel — the news just keeps getting worse.
These headlines bear witness to the fact that Iran is the top sponsor of terrorism in the world. But make no mistake — Iranian terrorism is not just a current event.
Historically, the majority of terror attacks that have taken place over the past 35 years have been connected in one way or another to Iran. Tehran has systemized terror as a primary mechanism for accomplishing its goals and exporting its extremist ideology.
Indeed, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, numbering more than 150,000 members is the largest terror organization on the planet, even bigger than al-Qaida and the Taliban. Iran has also committed innumerable terrorist attacks through semi-independent "proxy" organizations — such as Hezbollah and Hamas — who in turn execute terror attacks to advance Iranian interests.
Iran has important reasons for supplying weapons and money to terrorist proxies. The use of terrorism against its rivals is an important element of its military strategy, helping to create fear and deterrence among Iran's enemies. Aid to terrorist organizations also serves Iran's desire to influence the Middle East — in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, the Palestinian territories, Yemen, Bahrain and even Saudi Arabia. And Iran's use of terror comes at little cost to itself.
The focal point of Iranian terrorism in recent years has been Syria. Since the Syrian people rose up against Bashar Assad in March 2011, Iran has supplied comprehensive aid to the regime, effectively saving it from destruction.
On the military front, Iran has deployed IRGC and Basij militia forces to help Damascus put down the rebellion. Diplomatically, Tehran works to frustrate any possible action against Assad at the United Nations, often with the aid of Russian influence. Economically, Tehran gives Damascus billions of dollars to stabilize its economy, which is collapsing because of the civil war and Arab boycotts.
Arab states readily acknowledge the aid Iran gives to terrorist groups. Recently, Arabic-language media has used the expression "the four capitals of Iran" as a reference to the capitals of four states essentially ruled by Tehran — Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sana'a. "Yemen Under Iranian Rule," announced Arab newspapers several weeks ago, after Iran-supported Houthi rebels took control of Sana'a. The Iranian media did not hesitate to refer to this takeover as a "victory for the revolution." That is, the Islamic revolution.
With the breakdown of talks in Vienna and their subsequent extension, Iran has gained more time to surge forward in its nuclear pursuits while retaining the dangerous infrastructure needed to stockpile more uranium. Should Iran succeed in achieving nuclear arms, it could use them to coerce its neighbors or pass them along to its global terrorist network.
Tehran already possesses ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Iran's continuing defiance of the world directly threatens U.S. security interests and the security of America's allies. If Iran goes nuclear, then terrorism goes nuclear.
Joshua S. Block is president and CEO of The Israel Project