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Prepare For Iran, Get Out of Iraq

By Ed Koch

The President of Iran has threatened the very existence of the United States and its ally Israel, and will soon be capable of using nuclear weapons to carry out his threat.

According to the April 29 New York Times, reporting on the recent statement of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has "fail[ed] to comply with the United Nations Security Council deadline to freeze all nuclear fuel enrichment."

Further, according to The Times, Iran "has refuse[d] to answer questions about suspected links between its civilian program and its military one. For the first time, the agency had begun enriching uranium on a small scale confirming Tehran's boasts." The Chairman of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization stated "the facts on the ground have changed" and uranium enrichment was "irreversible." To create a nuclear bomb, uranium must be enriched to a greater degree than is necessary to operate a nuclear power plant.

China, which has rejected even the modest sanctions against Iran proposed by the U.S. and Great Britain at the Security Council, is expected to do so again when Great Britain introduces a new resolution under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter seeking, according to The Times, "a mandatory order to Iran to stop enriching uranium." China has become Iran's protector at the Security Council. Now the world's number two consumer of oil, having replaced Japan in that position, China is enhancing its position with oil-producing Iran.

Russia too has opposed sanctions against Iran. Russia is even helping Iran to build its nuclear facilities. Russia has offered to do the enriching of uranium for Iran in Russia for Iran's nuclear energy facilities, but Iran has declined the offer. Russia and China, according to The Times, argue that "in the absence of hard evidence that Iran is pursuing a weapons program -- evidence the atomic agency said it had been barred from searching for -- this is not a matter of war and peace for the Security Council."

Iran obviously has no intention of using its nuclear bombs against China or Russia, its protectors, so those two countries are not worried. But Iran has made clear its intention of destroying the U.S. and Israel. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said, "They [ask]: 'Is it possible for us to witness a world without America and Zionism?' But you had best know that this slogan and this goal are attainable, and surely can be achieved..." Do we wait until Iran has launched nuclear bombs against us? President Bush has stated, "The Iranian government's intransigence is not acceptable...but diplomacy is just beginning."

We can be certain that the same groups and individuals who blame the President for launching a war against Iraq will expand their efforts to include in their opposition any preemptive strike against Iran's nuclear bomb capability. War was launched against Saddam Hussein by the U.S. and Great Britain in March 2003 after the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1441, warning Iraq that unless it accounted for and destroyed its weapons of mass destruction, it would be a cause for war. The resolution stated "Iraq has been and remains in material breach," referring to an earlier Resolution 687 requiring it to disarm and assist UN agencies, etc. Finally, 1441 "warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations." That is UN language referring to the use of military force.

We had every right to go to war to protect the people of the U.S. from being the victims of an attack by Iraq using WMD. That Saddam's own generals believed Iraq had WMD and found to their amazement and distress that they did not, three months before the war began (reported by The Times) -- the generals expected to use them -- reinforces the reasonableness of world leaders like Bush and Blair acting upon the information provided by their respective intelligence agencies. The intelligence agencies, we later learned, were wrong in their assessment and advice. But the leaders of the U.S. and Great Britain were correct in relying on the advice -- "a slam dunk" was the description used by Director of the CIA, George Tenet.

Those who opposed the war against Iraq and who will oppose a preemptive strike in an effort to destroy Iran's nuclear bomb facilities are as concerned about our country and its future as those of us who want to make certain by taking military action that the country's future is assured. But in the opposition's ranks there are the usual crazies, pacifists, dreamers and self-haters of the U.S. who believe we are evil in aspirations and actions and our opponents are virtuous and worthy of support, whoever they may be.

Senator John McCain put it succinctly, "There's only one thing worse than the United States exercising the military option, that is, a nuclear-armed Iran."

Because I believe that Iran is our most dangerous enemy, and most analysts expressing an opinion believe that, I also believe we should leave Iraq. We have done what we originally sought to do: we have deposed Saddam Hussein, permitted the Iraqi people to elect a new government and adopt democracy for their governance. While they continue to be harassed by terrorists and insurrectionists and civil war, it is not our obligation to continue to stay and suffer casualties. Further, because of our newest and greater danger -- war with Iran being imminent -- we cannot afford being bogged down in Iraq exposing our armies there to assault by Iranian forces. However, if our NATO allies and our regional allies now agree to come in and sacrifice their young men and women on the fields of combat and are willing to share the costs with us, we should stay and do our share. If they will not choose to come in now, President Bush should put them on notice that we will start our withdrawal by July 4th of this year.

What a celebration we will have if that occurs.

Ed Koch is the former Mayor of New York City.

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