Feature

Iran

Dwindling options in a nuclear crisis.

The saber rattling over Iran's nuclear ambitions just keeps getting louder, said The Economist in an editorial. Last week, after spurning European diplomatic efforts, Tehran abandoned its eight-month-old pledge to suspend nuclear fuel production and 'œsymbolically broke' U.N. seals at its uranium plant in Isfahan. The facility could produce reactor-grade uranium for energy purposes or the weapons-grade variety. Either way, said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran has the 'œright' to process the material. Tehran is believed to be a decade away from making nuclear warheads. Nevertheless, President Bush signaled that the U.S. views such a prospect with the utmost alarm. Responding to Iran's vow to pursue a nuclear program, Bush declined to rule out a military response. 'œAll options are on the table,' he said. 'œAnd you know, we've used force in the recent past to secure our country.'

Talk about hollow threats, said Fareed Zakaria in Newsweek. With U.S. forces bogged down in Iraq, it's obvious to all that the U.S. won't be invading anyone else anytime soon. Attacking Iran's nuclear facilities from the air is not much of an option, either. Those plants are 'œscattered, reasonably well hidden, and could be repaired within months.' Besides, U.S. aggression would only 'œstrengthen local support for the nuclear program and bolster an unpopular regime.' The solution to this crisis still lies in diplomacy. Iran 'œwill never give up its right to a nuclear program.' But in exchange for 'œnormalization of relations with the West,' it could see the virtue in allowing international monitoring. And that's the best means we have to assure that its nuclear program 'œdoesn't morph into a weapons project.'

Richard Chesnoff

New York Daily News

The Dallas Morning News

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