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Argument: Diplomacy will not work with a nuclear Iran

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Mortimer Zuckerman. "The World Cannot Live With the Threat of a Nuclear Iran". US News and World Report. March 23, 2009 - Every U.S. administration since 1979—yes, including the past one—has reached out to the Iranians. To adopt President Obama's inaugural metaphor, every open hand has met a clenched fist. Jimmy Carter could not obtain the release of American hostages illegally seized in Tehran. Ronald Reagan's national security adviser, Robert McFarlane, failed in a secret mission to release the American hostages held by Iran's Hezbollah agents in Beirut. Brent Scowcroft, George H. W. Bush's national security adviser, made no progress. The Clinton administration's dozen gestures in 1999 were spurned. Clinton even lifted some sanctions in the interest of a "grand bargain," to be made public through an "accidental" meeting between Clinton and the Iranian president in the corridors of the United Nations, only to have it canceled at the last minute.

It is the same dismal story with five years of efforts to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions. "We haven't really moved one inch toward addressing the issues," said Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The lie to the Iranian pretense that this oil-rich country needs nuclear power is manifest in every action: It has refused every compromise, including Russia's offer to provide enriched nuclear material for use in civilian nuclear plants.

It is not that the Iranians don't want to talk—they do. That's how they play for time. Quite simply, they seek the technical know-how that will enable them to produce nuclear weapons in a short period. They are in the midst of building stockpiles of low-enriched uranium from which they can produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear device in a matter of months—a breakout capability. They are adding centrifuges faster than the U.N. Security Council can step up the pressure and are learning about the intricate art of connecting a large number of centrifuges to a vast amount of pipe work, while maintaining everything in a vacuum. Getting centrifuges to run is not the challenge; getting them to run as a single entity is, and they are mastering it. Simultaneously, they are enhancing their ability to launch long-range ballistic missiles, a potential delivery system of nuclear weapons. Alas, this is also a living testimony to the failure of the world community to curb the trade of missile technology that Iran lacks on its own. What madness it is to empower Iran to do what it most likes to do—hold hostages, in this case, the entire region. The clock is ticking inexorably, a race against time that Iran is winning, getting nearer every day to presenting the world with an Iranian bomb as a fait accompli.

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