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Reining in Iran
The U.S. and other leaders of the United Nations Security Council have launched a new round of discussions about sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. The Iranian president's "political theater" this week made it clear he believes the
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he U.S. and other leaders of the United Nations Security Council have launched a new round of discussions about sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. Diplomats are holding a second day of talks on Thursday. A day earlier, the U.S. Senate approved a resolution urging President Bush to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization, ratcheting up the heat on Tehran on the heels of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s controversial trip to New York.

There was a “brazen underlying message” to Ahmadinejad’s “political theater” this week, said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. The Iranian president, who told U.N. delegates that he considered discussions over his country’s nuclear program to be closed, “believes that the world lacks the will to stop Iran from pursuing its nuclear program, and that the U.S. also can't stop his country from killing GIs in Iraq.” The question is, what will President Bush do with his remaining 16 months in office to “stop Iran from gaining a bomb”?

Branding Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as terrorists would be a start, said Clifford May in National Review Online. It would provide a way to “economically pressure Iran’s elites.” And a bill in the House—the Iran Counter-Proliferation Act—“aims to strengthen U.S. tools to cut off funds to Iran’s nuclear weapons program.” If Washington “stay focused” with efforts like these, it can “thwart the grand ambitions of the aggressive, malevolent, Islamist regime ruling Iran.”

Pressure is one thing, said Jay Bookman in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but suggestion that the U.S. should go to war with Iran “is crazy talk, the rhetoric of fools.” We’re “already fighting two wars” with “mixed results” and no victory in sight. Our military is overstretched, and our international stock is low. Iran’s nuclear dreams and its “meddling in Iraq’s affairs” are serious problems. But the Bush administration officials who want to attack Iran as their time in office runs out “would hand the next administration an even bigger catastrophe in the Middle East.”

The “crazies” who want war—both in Tehran and in Washington—seem to be gaining momentum, said The New York Times in an editorial (free registration). And Mohamed ElBaradei, the chief nuclear inspector for the U.N.—gave them fresh ammunition with the deal he cut to get Iran to answer old questions about its nuclear program. The agreement gave Tehran room to drag out the inspection process without addressing its “very public refusal to stop enriching uranium” it could use for a bomb. “The further along the Iranians get,” the more likely President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are to “decide that one more war isn’t going to do their reputation much harm.”

Threats, “in Iranian eyes,” only “justify” the Islamic republic’s quest for the bomb, said Joe Conason in The New York Observer. The right way to deal with Iran is to “engage the regime,” and “penetrate its closed borders peacefully to strengthen its civil society and weaken its overgrown theocratic state. Stop making heroes of the villainous mullahs” who really run the country, “and their puppets” -- like Ahmadinejad -- “and start dividing the pragmatists and reformers from the fanatics.” 

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