The Threat of the Current Regime in Iran

Chairman Coburn, Ranking Member Carper, and members of the subcommittee:

I appreciate the opportunity to testify today about the extraordinary challenge that the current regime in Iran poses to the safety of the United States and the safety of our democratic allies. The extraordinary scope of the threat requires that we take extraordinary measures to meet it.

Not since the failure of the League of Nations in the 1930s to confront the aggression of the dictatorships in Japan, Italy, and Germany have we seen the willful avoidance of reality which is now underway with regard to Iran.

In the 1930s Winston Churchill read Hitler’s Mein Kampf and came to understand that Hitler meant exactly what he said. Churchill found himself isolated and alone among British political leaders as the British government refused to recognize the depth of Hitler’s evil and the seriousness of his statements.

The League of Nations found itself able to issue press releases and diplomatic condemnation but unable to do anything effective about the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and later China, the Italian invasion of Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) and later Albania, Germany breaking the Versailles Treaty by remilitarizing the Rhineland and then absorbing Austria and occupying Czechoslovakia.

Each weak, paper response of the democracies simply increased the contempt and boldness of the dictators.

There are lessons to be learned from the 1930s and those lessons apply directly to the current government of Iran.

Indeed, the new Iranian President does not even require us to read a book like Mein Kampf to understand how serious he is. He enthusiastically makes speeches proclaiming to the world his commitment to genocidal annihilation of another nation. Furthermore his senior foreign policy leader has endorsed his vicious threats. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki confirmed to Iranian state run television that "the comments expressed by the president is the declared and specific policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran..."

Meanwhile the civilized world wrings its hands and the United Nations acts with contemptible weakness.

It is in this context that your hearing on what the United States policy on Iran should be is so important.

The central proposition of this testimony is this: the combination of two elements--the virulence of the ideology of Iran’s current regime and advanced military capabilities it is working energetically to acquire--when added to Iran’s inherent endowment--its strategic location, natural resources, population, and proximity to the vital resources of other nations in the region and the seaways through which these sources reach the rest of the world--poses a threat of such scope and magnitude which leave us with no choice but to take it with the utmost seriousness. We must prepare and take actions of the same intensity and seriousness as the threat.

Yet, time is not on our side.

By word and deed for the last 25 years, the tyrannical ruling class of the Islamic Republic of Iran has shown itself willing to murder Americans, murder Israelis, and murder anyone who threatens its illegitimate and corrupt rule, including Iranians who wish to live as free men and women.

And just last month we had the extraordinary speech by the new President of Iran who openly called for the destruction of the United States and Israel.

These threats should worry the entire world coming as they do from a regime that is actively developing and deploying an intermediate range missile capability, and that has reportedly conducted a ballistic missile launch off of a merchant ship in the Caspian Sea. An Iranian merchant ship ballistic missile launching capability should worry every American, especially those living along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States.

But even more worrying is that these public threats to destroy the United States and Israel, and any country allied with them, come from a country that is widely suspected of carrying on a clandestine nuclear weapons program.

In short, a country with a track record of carrying out its murderous ideology may soon have the capability to deliver on its publicly declared and unambiguously stated intentions to inflict mortal harm on the United States on a massive scale. A nuclear tipped intermediate-range Iranian missile launched from a merchant ship off the coast of the United States could do just that. That, or Iran could simply supply its terrorist handmaidens with a small scale nuclear device to use against U.S. targets here at home or abroad.

As every member of this subcommittee knows, the suspicions that Iran is developing nuclear weapons capability are not held by the United States alone.

Just two months ago on September 24, 2005, the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)--the international organization whose responsibility it is to administer safeguards designed to ensure that the use of nuclear energy technology is not used in such a way as to further any military purpose--has found Iran to be in "non-compliance" with its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by virtue of its non-compliance with its safeguard agreement with the IAEA pursuant to this treaty.

In particular, the IAEA Board of Governors found in its September 24 resolution that "given the history of concealment of Iran’s nuclear activities...and the resulting absence of confidence that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes have given rise to questions that are within the competence of the Security Council, as the organ bearing the main responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security." (emphasis added)

The nature and twenty five year history of the Iranian regime, including the recent statements by Iranian President Ahmadinejad, along with the ongoing Iranian missile development and the September 2005 finding by the IAEA that Iran is in non-compliance with its commitments under the NPT, provide an appropriate basis to draw some conclusions about the threat the current Iranian regime poses to the United States and what we should do about it.

And those conclusions are straightforward, which I outline below and elaborate on in the sections following along with recommendations:

  1. The current Iranian regime is the most dangerous in the world and is the single most urgent threat to American national security.
  2. The threat posed by Iran can only be properly understood in the context of the Long War Against the Irreconcilable Wing of Islam, which is a worldwide war in which the United States and its allies are unavoidably engaged, and in which the U.S. has active campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  3. While the U.S. should pursue holding Iran accountable for its treaty obligations through international bodies such as the IAEA and the U.N. Security Council, the United States cannot let the ineffectiveness and delay of these international bureaucracies become an excuse for our stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The fact that the IAEA Board of Governors failed in its September 24 resolution to refer Iran’s non-compliance to the U.N. Security Council--which is called for by Article XII C. of the IAEA governing statute--is a troubling indication that American national security may be threatened by the inaction of an international organization which was designed to help safeguard it. And the fact that the strongest term that the Secretary General can muster in response to the Iranian President’s threat against Israel is "dismay"-- instead of, for example, pointing out that a sitting head of a government has openly violated the 1949 Genocide Convention--may tell us all we need to know about the current seriousness of the United Nations with respect to Iran. The utter ineffectiveness of the League of Nations to respond to threats to international peace and security in the 1930s is a lesson we should heed if we think that words alone can protect us from the threat posed by Iran.
  4. One key to preventing and/or severely degrading Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons is persuading Russia that it is in its own interest to stop helping Iran with its nuclear program.
  5. Iran is a member of a small group of nations whose behavior is so indefensible and at odds with norms of the civilized world (North Korea and Sudan being two others) that the only moral and practical policy objective of the United States government towards these governments is regime change.
  6. While we must preserve a strong military capability to deter and/or remove the threat posed by the current Iranian regime, there is an extraordinary opportunity for every peace loving and civilized country in the world, led by the United States, to support a democracy movement within Iran to achieve regime change short of armed conflict. Indeed, the most significant allies in a U.S. policy of regime change in Iran are likely to be the Iranian people themselves. This when combined with victory against the terrorists in Iraq and the formation of a democratic government in Iraq, is the best strategy for regime change in Iran.

The Current Iranian Regime Poses the Single Most Significant Threat to American Safety

Shortly following the 1979 Iranian revolution led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran was transformed into a theocratic state and quickly drafted a constitution that is still in place today. Its preamble sets forth the mission of the post-revolutionary theocratic state:

[I]t is the mission of the Constitution to materialize the ideology of the Movement and create such conditions under which Man may grow according to the noble and universal values of Islam.

With due consideration to the Islamic content of the Iranian Revolution, which was a movement for the victory of all the oppressed people over their oppressors, the Constitution paves the way for the perpetuation of this Revolution in and outside the country, particularly in the area of expansion of international relations with other Islamic and peoples' movements; it tries to prepare the ground for the creation of a single world community... and the perpetuation of the struggle for delivering all the deprived and oppressed nations of the world...[emphasis added]
Ideological Army

In establishing and equipping the defense forces of the country, it shall be taken into consideration that faith and ideology are the basis and criterion. Therefore, the Army of the Islamic Republic and the Revolutionary Guard Corps will be formed in conformity with the above objective, and will be responsible not only for protecting and safeguarding the frontiers but also for the ideological mission, that is, Jihad. For God's sake and struggle for promoting the rule of God's law in the world. [emphasis added]

Thus dedicated to spreading the goals of the 1979 revolution to other nations, Iran has engaged in a 25 year campaign of terror and murder.

Among the highlights:

(i) Inventing, creating, funding, training, and operating to this day Hezbollah in Lebanon, arguably the most dangerous terrorist organization in the world;
(ii) Financing Hezbollah to the tune of approximately $100 million a year, although some analysts think the figure is closer to $200 million a year;
(iii) Ordering and financing the attack on the U.S. Marine barracks in October 1983 that resulted in the death of 241 American servicemen. It was the largest non-nuclear explosion that had ever been detonated on earth, with a force of between 15,000 to 21,000 pounds of TNT;
(iv) Providing support for the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996 that killed 19 American Servicemen and one Saudi national;
(v) Funding Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and incentivizing the murder of hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings;
(vi) The assassination of four leaders of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, an Iranian dissident group;
(vii) The bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish community center in 1994; and
(viii) The registration of more than 25,000 "martyrdom seeking" volunteers to take part in the attacks on U.S.-led forces in Iraq.

It is against this backdrop that we must consider Iran’s drive to develop nuclear weapons and its ability to deliver such weapons. It is also only against this backdrop that we can properly understand the seriousness of Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s threat to wipe Israel off the face of the map.

The proof of Iran’s direct and indirect complicity in terrorist activity against the United States and Israel is exhaustively chronicled elsewhere and need not be repeated here.

The simple point is that even without nuclear weapons, the Iranian regime poses the greatest threat to American lives and interests and to the lives and interest of our democratic allies.

With nuclear weapons, Iran would have the ability to inflict massive loss of life on American soil, along with massive disruption to the American way of life; it would also pose an existential threat to Israel.

Postponing for a brief moment the question before the IAEA of whether Iran is actually engaged in the development of nuclear weapons, let us consider whether Iran has the capability and intent to use nuclear weapons if it had them.

First, as to capability, in the last several years Iran has been systematically developing its intermediate range missile systems. Attached to this statement as Appendix 1 is a chronicle of Iran’s missile testing. Iran now has missiles that can hit Israel. And ominously for the United States, Iran has missiles that can hit U.S. installations in Iraq and Turkey. There has also been one report that Iran tested launching a ballistic missile from a merchant ship, which means that Iran may be testing the capability to launch a surprise attack on the United States from a merchant ship off our coasts.

An attack by a single Iranian nuclear missile could have a catastrophic impact on the United States by causing an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) over a portion of the country. Such an attack could quickly turn a third or more of the United States back to a 19th Century level of development.[1] Electrical transformers and switching stations would fail. Without electricity, hospitals would fail, water and sewage services would fail, gas stations would be unable to provide petroleum, trucks would not be able to distribute food supplies, and essential services would rapidly disintegrate.

This is not idle speculation but taken from the consensus findings of 9 distinguished American scientists who authored the "Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack", which was delivered to Congress on June 22, 2004, the same day that the 9/11 Commission report was published.

In its executive summary, the EMP Commission Report noted that "terrorists or state actors that possess relatively unsophisticated missiles armed with nuclear weapons may well calculate that, instead of destroying a city or military base, they may obtain the greatest political-military utility from one or a few such weapons by using them--or threatening their use--in an EMP attack."

Such an approach might even be deniable by the Iranians. After all, such an attack could be launched from the middle of the ocean and not from a specific country.

In the immediate aftermath of Katrina, we got a small preview of what the impact of such an EMP attack could be like.

Contemplating an EMP threat makes more troubling reports that certain Iranian missile tests resulted in missiles that have detonated in flight at or near apogee, which the Iranian press has reported as successful events. Normally, it would be expected that that the ability to target specific locations would be the standard for success for ballistic tests. However, if the ability to launch an EMP attack was being tested, detonation at apogee would be the measure of testing success.

As noted by the EMP Commission, a country with limited nuclear capabilities and few choices as to delivery platforms has only a few options to deliver a deadly blow. An EMP attack would be one such strategy.

A nuclear Iran would have the capability to inflict a brutal and vicious attack on the United States. A nuclear Iran would certainly have much more capability to do so than Japan did in 1941.

This leaves us with the question of intent.

It would be difficult for the Iranian leadership to be any clearer about their intentions, especially in the case of the Iranian President’s October 26, 2005 threats against the U.S. and Israel. In addition to threatening to "wipe [Israel] off the map" and insisting on the possibility of a world without the U.S. or Israel, the Iranian President made his remarks in front of a poster backdrop entitled "The World without Zionism". And in case anybody was still unsure about Iran’s intention, the Iranians decided to make it abundantly simple to understand by also providing a poster with two glass balls representing the United States and Israel. This poster showed an Israeli glass ball hurtling through an hourglass--on its way presumably to join the fate of the U.S. glass ball, which already lies shattered on the ground.

Previous statements by Iranian leaders are every bit as vicious and direct in their implications, such as former President Rafsanjani’s threat in 2001 to use nuclear weapons against Israel.

A catalog of Iranian regime threats against the U.S. and Israel is attached as Appendix 2 to this statement.

The Iranian track record in supporting and abetting the murder of Americans and Israelis makes it clear that we have to take their current threats with absolute seriousness.

A failure to take the Iranians seriously could have catastrophic consequences for both the United States and Israel.

Let one outcome of this hearing be that this subcommittee has taken sober note of the Iranian message telegraphed to us by the Iranian president’s speech and that we take the Iranian president’s threats deadly seriously.

Iran and the Long War Against the Irreconcilable Wing of Islam

It is not possible to adequately understand the threat posed by Iran unless the current Iranian regime and its ideological underpinnings are understood within the larger struggle in which the civilized nations of the world are--in varying degrees--unavoidably engaged. In the United States we currently refer to this struggle as the "Global War on Terror". Yet, this label fails to capture the nature of the threat faced by civilization.

The nature of the threat--with Iran at the epicenter--is at its core ideological. The threat to the United States is an ideological wing of Islam that is irreconcilable to modern civilization as we know it in the United States and throughout most of the world.

Four years ago, these ideological adherents killed almost 3,000 innocent people in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

Thousands of other innocents have been murdered and maimed since by such enemies in London, Madrid, Beslan, Bali, Jerusalem, Baghdad, Istanbul, Sharm-el-Sheikh, New Delhi, Amman, and many other cities.

The terrorist Ayman Al-Zawahiri is explicit about Al Qaeda’s "right to kill four million Americans---two million of them children--and to exile twice as many and wound and cripple hundreds of thousands."

The Irreconcilable Wing of Islam believes in a strikingly different world then the one we believe. It is an uncivilized and barbaric world. This wing of Islam, and its adherents and recruits, are irreconcilable because they cannot peacefully coexist with the civilized world. Their views on the role of women, on the application of medieval religious law (the Sha’ria) and religious intolerance (prosecuting Christians) make them irreconcilable with civilization in the modern age.

This ideological wing of Islam is irreconcilable because it does not accept freedom of conscience.

It does not accept freedom of speech.

It does not accept that women are equal in dignity and equal under the law, but instead accords them an inferior status in the life of society.

It does not accept the existence of the United States, with the Iranian regime adherents of the Irreconcilable Wing of Islam constantly fomenting a cheering chorus calling the United States the "Great Satan" and calling for its destruction. Their constantly declared goal is to either destroy or dominate the United States.

It does not accept Israel as a legal state.

It does not accept the inherent dignity of every human life. Instead, it supports the taking of innocent lives--in the name of its ideology--of anyone or any group that disagrees with its world view.

Dutch citizen Theo van Gogh dared to criticize certain practices of the Irreconcilable Wing of Islam and an adherent of this wing killed him in cold blood on the streets of Amsterdam. After first shooting and then standing over a still alive van Gogh who was begging for his life, the killer slit his throat and then stabbed a knife into his chest with a letter attached. The letter contained the following threat: "I surely know that you, O America, will be destroyed. I surely know that you, O Europe, will be destroyed. I surely know that you, O Holland, will be destroyed."

Should we not assume the fervor of this cold blooded killer is matched by the fervor of the current President of Iran? Should we not then take the Iranian president seriously when he threatens to destroy the United States and wipe Israel off the face of the map?

Because this war is at its core an ideological war, it is more accurate to think of and identify this war as the "Long War".

It is stunningly hard to win a war of ideology where the enemy is religiously motivated to kill us.

To put this into perspective, if the people of the United States were to suddenly decide that a particular concept was inherently wrong in our educational system, it could easily take 20 to 30 years to change that concept, rewrite all the text books, and retrain all the educators. That example is one completely within our culture. If one includes intercultural communication difficulties, the problem grows exponentially harder. If we use every tool at the disposal of the American people in support of a coherent theory of victory, the Long War might only last 50 – 70 years. Yet, it will probably last much longer.

This is a societal war of identity so there are no holds barred, no rules, and no real accommodations (only tactical maneuvers) or potential for compromise solutions on their part that would be culturally acceptable to us, or to them.

Given the existence of nuclear and biological weapons and the efforts of enemies to secure them, the Long War is potentially an existential threat to our survival as a free country, and the survival of other free countries. The leaders of Iran have made this potential consequence quite clear in both their words and in the deeds that have given them an intermediate range missile capability.

Four years after 9/11 and with active military operations first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq, it is also difficult for the American public to appreciate that this war for civilization is still only in its early stages. And it is not just about Iraq. Were it only so, but it is not. The Long War is at once a global military fight and a battle of ideas between those who would defend civilization and those who would destroy it. The startling fact that all of the London subway bombers were British citizens strongly implies that the Bush Doctrine is only partly right. In other words, spreading democracy may be essential to win this war, but by itself it may not be sufficient. This poses a new and extraordinarily difficult challenge for America’s security.

If the London bombings were not enough evidence, one need only consider the murderer of Theo van Gogh, who has vowed to kill again if he could. From his viewpoint, this is completely rational. After all, nothing the state can do to him in this world could possibly outweigh what God can do for him in the next.

The Long War is 90% intellectual, communications, political, economic, diplomacy, and intelligence focused. It is at most 10% military. We have not yet developed the doctrine or structure capable of thinking through and implementing a Long War (30 to 70 years if we are lucky) on a societal scale. This challenge is compounded because it is fundamentally different from waging the Cold War against the Soviet Union. The Cold War was essentially a grand siege in which a defensive alliance could contain the Soviet Union until it collapsed.

This is an inherently offensive war in which we have to actively defeat our opponents. Furthermore this war resembles the Reformation-era wars of religion in which fellow nationals may be traitors serving the other side (examine Elizabethan England and the origins of the English secret service as an example).

Analyzing this societal reality, designing strategies that first avoid defeat and then achieve victory, communicating these strategies to the Congress and the American people so they understand and support them, and then communicating them to our allies and neutrals around the world in terms which they can support is a challenge dramatically more complex and difficult than the development of the containment strategy from 1947 to 1950. It is also central to our survival and to our ability to lead the world. As is set forth in more detail below, persuading Russia of the nature of this threat and the danger that it poses to Russia should be a key part of our efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

In summary, the Irreconcilable Wing of Islam is the enemy we face in the Long War. And this enemy is not confined to one country or geographic area, although the current Iran regime is at the heart of this Irreconcilable Wing of Islam, and through the Iranian state apparatus--and oil wealth--is one of its central bankers. The Long War has a particular focus in the Middle East where Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan are all potentially flash points of great danger. Within the Middle Eastern focus there are currently campaigns underway in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Responding to Iran Through International Organizations

This hearing occurs one week prior to the IAEA Board of Governors meeting that will presumably decide whether to refer Iran’s non-compliance with its safeguards agreement to the Security Council.

President Ahmadinejad’s Statements and the 1948 Genocide Convention

Before discussing the IAEA’s next step, should we not take a moment to ask in the context of looking to international organizations for a coordinated response to the challenge of Iran whether anyone has noticed that with his recent comments about wiping Israel off the face of the earth, the President of Iran has openly violated the 1949 Genocide Convention? Article 3(c) of the Convention makes punishable the "direct and public incitement to commit genocide", with genocide itself defined in part as killing, in whole or in part, members of a national group. Perhaps a sophisticated lawyer can explain why the Iranian President’s call to wipe Israel off the face of the earth is not a violation of the Genocide Convention, but it sure seems to be one based upon a plain reading of the Convention.

If this were not enough, consider the 2001 statement by Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former President of Iran:

If one day, the world of Islam comes to possess the weapons currently in Israel's possession -- on that day this method of global arrogance would come to an end. This is because the use of a nuclear bomb in Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam.

The Genocide Convention has an additional definition of "deliberately inflicting on the [national] group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction." Again, it would seem quite clear that the use of a nuclear bomb in Israel, as called for by a former Iranian president, would inflict upon Israel a condition of life that would bring about the physical destruction of a national group. The current Iranian President’s recent remarks should be understood in this context.

Make no mistake, the use of one or more nuclear weapons against Israel would constitute a second genocide of the Jewish people.

President Ahmadinejad’s Statements and the International Criminal Court Treaty

It is also worth noting at this hearing that the new International Criminal Court (ICC) also has some very specific provisions relating to genocide. Article 25(3)(e) of the Rome Statue of the ICC provides individual criminal responsibility for any individual who directly and publicly incites others to commit genocide.

The President of Iran made his statements in public--before 4,000 people. His poster props were in English. He made no attempt to hide his remarks. The Iranian foreign minister explicitly and publicly endorsed the remarks as the policy of the Iranian government. Ahmadinejad quite clearly made public incitements to commit genocide against the nation of Israel. Given its support of Hezbollah, financial and otherwise, Iran has an apparatus in place to carry out the Iranian President’s wishes.

Article 27 of the Rome Statue also makes clear that its provisions for individual criminal responsibility apply "equally to all persons without any distinction based on official capacity" such as a head of state or government.

Article 77 of the Statue authorizes the ICC to imprison individuals for committing crimes defined by the Statue.

Iran has signed but not ratified the Rome Statue and is therefore not a State Party to the ICC. Therefore, the only mechanism by which to provide the ICC with jurisdiction in the case of President Ahmadinejad’s public incitement to genocide against Israel is to have the U.N. Security Council refer the matter to the ICC. Because the United States is not a State Party to the ICC treaty and may therefore not consider itself the appropriate country to bring this matter up in the Security Council, it would be a reasonable expectation that a European member of the Security Council will bring this matter before the Council. After all, European countries in particular have consistently vowed that we shall "never again" have another holocaust. The referral of this matter to the Security Council by a European country will make a strong statement that State Parties to the ICC treaty take the ICC seriously and intend to enforce its provisions designed to deter genocide.

President Ahmadinejad’s Statements and Reaction of the U.N. Secretary General and the U.N. Security Council

While the United States should advocate a much tougher stance by the United Nations in the wake of Ahmadinejad’s remarks, the immediate reaction by the U.N. Secretary General and Security Council has been quite limited. Secretary-General issued a statement through his spokesman that indicated that the Secretary-General had read the remarks "with dismay". The Secretary-General then went on to remind all member states that Israel is a member of the United Nations.

The Security Council was a bit better. It issued a press statement through the President of the Security Council in which the members of the Security Council condemned the remarks.

The two statements are strikingly similar to the weak paper protests that issued from the League of Nations.

The IAEA and Iran’s Suspected Nuclear Weapons Program

On September 24, 2005, the IAEA found Iran in "non-compliance" with its safeguard agreement by a vote of 22-1, with several abstaining votes, which notably included Russia and China. Article XII C. of the IAEA governing statue indicates that a finding of non-compliance triggers a referral to the Security Council, a step that the Board of Governors did not take in its September 24 resolution.

There is speculation that the IAEA Board of Governors will take this action to formally refer Iran’s non-compliance to the U.N. Security Council at its upcoming meeting next week. An article in the New York Times this past weekend describes U.S. efforts to convince certain governments represented on the IAEA Board of Governors of Iran’s intentions to develop nuclear weapons, which involves in some cases sharing knowledge learned from a recovered laptop computer that contains Iran nuclear weapons plans.

Whether or not these efforts result in a formal referral to the Security Council, let us not for a moment fail to focus on the goal to be achieved, which is the prevention--or, in the near term, the severe degradation--of Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons.

The primary way that this can be achieved is through the active cooperation of Russia, which is the primary supplier of nuclear technology equipment and know-how to Iran, which knowledge and equipment can be used develop nuclear weapons.

It will not serve our purposes to have a referral to the Security Council only to have Russia veto measures designed to thwart an Iranian nuclear weapons program.

Somehow Russia must be convinced of the urgency to end its support for Iran’s nuclear energy program.

This is no small task. Russia derives significant economic benefits from its assistance to Iran. And in the grand scheme of power politics, Russia surely derives benefits from being a thorn in the side of the United States by causing us to expend treasure and influence in dealing with Iran. Such a posture also requires the United States to give much greater consideration to Russian needs and desires.

Yet, we should make every effort to explain to Russia that it is playing with fire if it thinks it can neatly inoculate itself from the blowback to its interests that would surely develop if Iran developed nuclear weapons. Russia need not be lectured about the dangers of terrorism. It has already suffered grievously. It has had planes blown out of the sky and endured the unbearable tragedy of having hundreds of its school children massacred. And while the perpetrators of these crimes against Russia may have no connection to the Iranian regime, Russia knows the ruthlessness of those who hold views irreconcilable with modern civilization and kill innocent children.

But a nuclear Iran would accelerate the fervor of the Irreconcilable Wing of Islam, which adherents would eventually challenge the authority of the Russian state, whether or not such adherents had any formal relationship with the Iranian regime. Just this past weekend we learned that al-Qaeda has challenged the legitimacy of the Queen of England, calling her one of the severest threats to Islam. Can it really be that long before some armed group of this Irreconcilable Wing of Islam denies the legitimacy of the Russian president and begins suicide bombing campaigns in the Russian heartland? A nuclear armed Iran financing the spread of its irreconcilable ideology would surely come eventually to harm Russia itself.

In the Long War, we need Russia as an ally and we need Russia’s cooperation to deny Iran nuclear weapons.

The Lessons of the 1930s

Whether or not we secure Russia’s help to deny Iran a nuclear weapon, there is no question that a referral of Iran’s nuclear intentions to the Security Council would provide an important venue in which to organize a national and international debate about Iran’s intentions and capabilities. This debate could be vital to awaken international public opinion to the threat we face from the current Iranian regime and its long standing support for terrorism.

The world has been focused on Saddam Hussein and a liberated Iraq the past three years while Iran has escaped focused attention. This must change.

As we pursue a debate in the Security Council, let us always be mindful of the lure of words as a substitute for the necessary actions that may save American lives. In the 1930s, words were all that could be mustered by the League of Nations to respond to a set of aggressions that ultimately led to World War II. A brief outline of three actions by tyrannical regimes in the 1930s is attached as Appendix 3 to this statement, along with the empty words of the League that responded to these aggressions. It should serve as a cautionary reminder of what may happen if we fail to back words with actions.

If we cannot persuade Russia and other influential states to curb Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, the United States will either have to take action outside of the United Nations system to prevent Iran from acquiring weapons--which will not be easy and which will surely involve deadly counter-strikes from Iran--or the United States and other countries will have to respond to Iranian aggression after what may be tragically a massive loss of innocent lives in a surprise attack.

As is often the case when confronted with the need to soberly see the world as it is, the words of Winston Churchill are instructive. Speaking in the House of Commons following the Nazi annexation of Austria in 1938, Churchill spoke about what could still be done to forestall the approaching war:

It seems to me quite clear that we cannot possibly confine ourselves only to a renewed effort at rearmament. I know that some of honourable friends on this side of the House will laugh when I offer them this advice. I say, "Laugh, but listen." I affirm that the Government should express in the strongest terms our adherence to the Covenant of the League of Nations and our resolve to procure by international action the reign of law in Europe.....There must be a moral basis for British rearmament and British foreign policy. We must have that basis if we are to unite and inspire our people and procure their wholehearted action...

Our affairs have come to such a pass that there is no escape without running risks. On every ground of prudence as well as of duty I urge His Majesty's Government to proclaim a renewed, revivified, unflinching adherence to the Covenant of the League of Nations. What is there ridiculous about collective security? The only thing that is ridiculous about it is that we have not got it. Let us see whether we cannot do something to procure a strong element of collective security for ourselves and for others....Why not make a stand while there is still a good company of united, very powerful countries that share our dangers and aspirations? Why should we delay until we are confronted with a general landslide of those small countries passing over, because they have no other choice, to the overwhelming power of the Nazi regime?

If a number of States were assembled around Great Britain and France in a solemn treaty for mutual defence against aggression; if they had their forces marshalled in what you may call a Grand Alliance; if they had their Staff arrangements concerted; if all this rested, as it can honourably rest, upon the Covenant of the League of Nations, in pursuance of all the purposes and ideals of the League of Nations; if that were sustained, as it would be, by the moral sense of the world; and if it were done in the year 1938-and, believe me, it may be the last chance there will be for doing it-then I say that you might even now arrest this approaching war. Then perhaps the curse which overhangs Europe would pass away. Then perhaps the ferocious passions which now grip a great people would turn inwards and not outwards in an internal rather than an external explosion, and mankind would be spared the deadly ordeal towards which we have been sagging and sliding month by month....

Is not Churchill’s prescription in 1930 for checking Nazi aggression apt today for checking Iranian efforts to develop nuclear weapons?

Civilized countries still have an opportunity to work through international organizations that have a degree of worldwide legitimacy to strengthen and support real change in Iran and endorse actions to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.

Regime Change is the only Moral and Practical Foreign Policy Objective of the United States Government Toward Iran

While the United States should actively work bilaterally with Russia and multilaterally through international institutions to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, let us keep our eye on what should be our overall objective – regime change in Iran. We must actively work toward the day when Iranians can have free elections and a government that is accountable to the people.

As a moral matter, regime change should be our objective as the current Iranian regime’s internal repression and external support of terror is so beyond the norms of civilization as to not be tolerated by the world community.

As a practical matter, regime change should be our objective because the current Iranian regime is by its own definition a non-status quo power which is dedicated to exporting revolution and destroying the United States and Israel. There is no compromising with a regime that puts the choice like that. And if that is the choice that is put to us by the current Iranian regime, then our strategy for dealing with it should be crystal clear: we win, they lose. There is no détente with a regime committed to killing you.

Lastly, if regime change is achieved in Iran through a democratic revolution, the question of Iranian nuclear weapons is automatically lessened because everything we know about the Iranians' attitudes suggests that they will be pro-western and peaceful.

U.S. Military Readiness, Victory in Iraq, and a Coordinated, Vibrant, and Consistent Democratization Program Offer the Best Chance for Regime Change in Iran Short of Armed Conflict

A policy of regime change in Iran does not mean that our first step is military invasion or air attack.

It is not.

Nevertheless, ensuring the readiness of our armed forces and conveying quite clearly to the current Iranian leadership our willingness to use military force in an overwhelming manner to protect American lives--and to protect our democratic allies--from Iranian actions is the first step.

This means that we require a defense and intelligence budget capable of meeting the threat posed by Iran.

While we may be heavily engaged on the ground in Iraq, the current Iranian regime should understand that the United States has more than ample air and naval forces to defend its interests.

The following are a set of additional thoughts on how to bring about regime change in Iran:

1. Victory in Iraq. We have no other choice but to see our efforts in Iraq through to victory. A democratizing Iraqi neighbor that is accountable to its people and respects their human rights will put enormous pressure on the Iranian regime.

2. Recognize the Weakness of the Iranian Regime and Let it Be Known Far and Wide. Iran’s experience since 1979 has not been a happy one. Notwithstanding the oil-led growth of the 1990s, individual incomes are 2/3 of what they were before the fall of the Shah, while during the same period of time individual incomes almost doubled in the rest of the world. Iran produces large numbers of highly educated, unemployable young people who are neither allowed to pursue fulfilling and productive lives in Iran nor seek opportunities abroad. Their existence is precarious. The regime hangs people in very public ceremonies at the drop of a hat to make examples for everybody else, including the case of a 16 year old girl for "acts incompatible with chastity." There are summary executions, torture and arbitrary arrests and detention. In 2002, in an effort to combat "un-Islamic behavior", the Iranian regime formed a new "morality" force to complement the existing morality police by assisting in the enforcement of the regime’s strict rules of moral behavior, which apparently has includes offenses such as listening to music, or in the case of women, wearing makeup or clothing regarded as insufficiently modest. All of these conditions and many more help to explain why the current Iranian regime has not won hearts and minds and instead engages in internal repression. What if the Iranian people began to understand more and more that the regime has failed them in other ways besides simply denying the vote or free expression? Wouldn’t it be interesting if these facts and other ugly social phenomena were exposed more broadly to the Iranian people to demonstrate that the state fails to deliver on its stated social welfare goals or that it conspires against its own people? It would be more interesting still if such practices were to become the stuff of international headlines.

3. Have Confidence in the Power of American Values and the Words of the American President to Change History. The United States should have every confidence that freedom and democracy is hungrily desired by vast numbers of the Iranian people. And there is no more powerful civil office on the face of the planet to give voice to the aspirations of the Iranian people for freedom than the American presidency. America can never forget the lesson we learned from former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky about the impact of Ronald Reagan’s words. Sitting in an eight by ten prison cell in Siberia, Sharansky remembers the ecstasy that overcame the dissident prisoners as word spread--through tapping on the walls in code and talking through toilets--that the American President Ronald Reagan had called the Soviet Union an "evil empire". As Sharansky wrote, "finally, the leader of the free world had spoken the truth--a truth that burned inside the heart of each and every one of us." Sharansky also recalled how the morale of the jailers dropped. No wonder, calling things by their rightful names clarifies personal responsibility and the choices that confront individual conscience.

The United States must use the power of the spoken word to condemn the leaders of the current Iranian regime, keeping in mind what President John F. Kennedy said about Winston Churchill in making him an honorary American citizen, "[h]e mobilized the English language and sent it into battle."

We also should remember the lessons in the art of liberation taught by one of the other towering giants of the 20th Century. When Karol Wojtyla set down in Warsaw, Poland on June 2, 1979 as Pope John Paul II, he began a nine day visit that triggered a revolution of Polish conscience that changed the world. By helping the Polish people to reclaim their authentic cultural identity through a direct challenge to them to live lives of dignity, he allowed them to disenthrall themselves from the walls of lies that Communism had built. And in hearing the truth about who they were, the people of Poland soon realized how many of "us" there were in comparison to the few of the "them"--the artificial regime that governed them.

As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn argued in his 1970 Nobel lecture, the communist culture of the lie and communist violence were closely linked, such that when the lie was exposed, the violence "will come crashing down."

Iran is obviously not a Christian country, but the day will come when the Iranian people are collectively roused to understand that they are not to be associated with a twisted ideology that sends off a Muslim married couple as suicide bombers to bomb the wedding party of another Muslim couple, as we saw in Amman this past week. And when that revulsion happens, we will see the tide turn sharply against the Irreconcilable Wing of Islam.

Michael Rubin and Patrick Clawson write in their new book Eternal Iran that there is a common understanding dating back centuries between Iranian leaders and the people that when leaders overstepped their boundaries, the Iranian people rose up to demand their rights.

The U.S. government should be doing everything it can to hasten this happening again, by magnifying Iranian voices and interests who wish to press their demands for the crashing down of this violent Iranian regime.

The Iranian people will be soon marking in 2006 the 100th anniversary of the Constitutional Revolution. This is an ideal anniversary period for the U.S. to stress in advancing these themes.

In this spirit, all level of the U.S. government should also champion the cause and extol the courage of Iranian dissidents. Prominent among them is Akbar Ganji who, despite pleas this summer from President Bush, members of congress, the EU, European governments, U.N. agencies, Secretary-General Annan and virtually every major international human rights organization, was not released after his 50+ day hunger strike. He remains in solitary confinement and being tortured presently, according to Human Rights Watch. Ganji is Iran’s most prominent investigative journalist, who exposed the regime’s rampant corruption and organized killing of dissidents. He is a clear, popular voice for democracy. Despite his confinement, Ganii remains an inspiration for other dissidents, as was evidenced by the pro-Ganji demonstration outside the Milad hospital in September where hundreds of supporters congregated. It is not surprising why the Iranian regime wants Ganji incarcerated.

4. Support Iranian Democracy Movements. The United States should aggressively reach out to those Iranians who want a democratic transformation of their country and be ready to help finance their activities. In this regard, we should support Senator Santorum’s bill that is aimed at supporting a transition to democracy in Iran and providing $10 million as a start to fund this effort. If Iran can finance Hezbollah with $100 million a year to kill and terrorize the innocent, surely the United States can spend at least $10 million a year to help bring freedom to the oppressed and stop the terror masters in Tehran.In fact the United States should commit as many resources as can usefully be spent in both open and covert activities to maximize the ability of the Iranian people to gain control over their government and replace the dictatorship.

5. We Must Think Creatively on How To Make It Easier for Russia and China to Opt Out of their Support for the Iranian Government. As we know, Russia needs the hard currency Iran will pay out upon completion of the Iranian nuclear reactor at Bushehr and China needs Iran for its oil. And both enjoy Iran as a market for weapons. Russia is critical because it is the source of workers, planners and ultimately, nuclear fuel for the plant at Bushehr. China also was critical for supplying nuclear materials to Iran, although China now find Iran far more important for the relatively hassle-free oil purchases and the high-end weapons (anti-ship missiles) it can sell Iran . The question is how to sour Iran’s relations with Russia and China or convince the latter two to isolate Iran if only until regime change is effected. Perhaps U.S. tax credits for oil companies willing to exploit Siberian reserves that depress oil prices and make it easier for China (and everyone else) to buy oil on world markets with a corresponding loss of revenue to Iran and a net employment and oil sales gain for Russia could be part of the equation. In this regard, recall the Reagan Administration’s successful effort to increase Saudi oil production in the 1980s that led to lower oil prices worldwide and a dramatic drop in Soviet hard currency reserves owing to decreased Soviet oil revenues. Along these lines, what about guarantees by the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation for joint consortiums with Chinese or Russian companies to exploit reserves in Russia or Afghan gas fields? I am not specifically endorsing these measures but suggesting them as a way of thinking about different creative solutions we should debate to achieve our goal of stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons development.

6. Avoid Broad Economic Sanctions, Especially Avoid Oil Sanctions. American-led economic sanctions have consistently been shown to be an imprecise and normally ineffective instrument of policy. And in the case of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, where multilateral oil sanctions were enforced, they served as a dictatorship-support instead of a dictatorship-weakening program, corrupted the implementers of the policy (the U.N.), and hurt the Iraqi people whom it was designed to help. Given that Iran is the world’s second largest supplier of oil, a multilateral oil embargo would be replete with cheating and end up being hopeless. We should not spend any diplomatic energy going down this path. There may be opportunities for very targeted sanctions that exacerbate internal Iranian tensions. For example, Iran’s already high (approx. 20%) unemployment rate is made worse by China’s increasing textile exports to Iran. Might we facilitate entry of finished goods from China across Iraq’s border into Iran to further displace local industry? Iran is dependent on the export of carpets and some agricultural goods for an important part of its rural economy. Might they be disrupted? Depending on Iranian behavior, could the European Union be persuaded to place a targeted ban on the imports of these goods?

7. Announce Formation of Special Tribunals for Members of the Iranian Republican Guard Corps and the Basij. Active public discussion and planning for the trials of the worst of Iran’s human rights violators or its leaders might restrain some or compel a few to provide evidence of what goes on in the political prisons across the country. Could we not start a program here in the U.S. to collect evidence of human rights violations among the Iranian expatriates? Could we facilitate legal activities against the violators by making it easier to sue the current Iranian regime just as we have done with terrorism cases?

8. Develop and frequently revisit a ballistic missile and EMP Intelligence Military Plan for Iran. This effort should pay particular attention to what key indicators would reflect Iranian actions to attack regional allies with ballistic missiles and to attack the United States, U.S. forces, or regional allies with a ballistic missile or an EMP weapon. Specific items to be developed during this effort could be:


a. A list of specific and observable; via imagery, signals intelligence, or other intelligence tools as appropriate; steps that Iran must take to launch a ballistic missile or nuclear attack against a regional ally such as Israel or against the United States. Some examples of these steps might include movement of long range missiles to launch sites, marshaling special convoys to move nuclear material to launch or preparatory sites, or, perhaps, special preparations for placing a ballistic missile on a merchant ship.
b. An intelligence collection plan applying at least on intelligence discipline against each of the specific and observable steps that Iran must take to conduct a ballistic missile or EMP attack against the United States or regional allies. This collection plan should include the likelihood of successful collection for each intelligence discipline applied to each indicator.
c. Upon detection, a means to disseminate each of these indicators in a rapid means to key decision makers and to potentially threatened allies.

9. Develop Contingency Plans In Case Iranian Government Collapses or Civil War Breaks Out. As a reaction to President Ahmadinejad’s remarks, there has been an acceleration of capital flight from Iran, which had already begun upon his taking office. This combined with the vast amounts of oil revenue spent on Iranian defense and other areas such as supporting terrorism abroad and the growing hunger for democracy in the Middle East may result in mass demonstrations, a collapse of government services, or perhaps even a civil war. While not probable, such a scenario is clearly in the realm of the possible. As such, it would be prudent to develop an integrated governmental group to plan the United States response to such an event and to coordinate with, as appropriate, multinational organizations such as NATO and the U.N.

As the Congress moves forward to consider its next moves in meeting the deadly serious challenge from Iran, consider the dramatically different epitaphs of the two great struggles of the 20th Century.

Speaking in Fulton, Mississippi on March 5, 1946, Winston Churchill, in warning about the Iron Curtain that was descending upon Europe and the deadly serious threat that was arising from the Soviet Union, lamented that the horrors of WWII could have been avoided: "There never was a war in history easier to prevent by timely action than the one which has just desolated such great areas of the globe. It could have been prevented, in my belief, without the firing of a single shot...but no one would listen and one by one we were all sucked into the awful whirlpool."

Fortunately for mankind, somebody was listening and upon his death in 2004, another British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, summed up his contribution: "Ronald Reagan had a higher claim than any other leader to have won the Cold War for liberty and he did it without a shot being fired."

In facing down the threat from Iran, we know which outcome we wish for the world.

Newt Gingrich is a senior fellow at AEI and the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Notes

[1] "The high-altitude nuclear weapon-generated electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is one of a small number of threats that has the potential to hold our society seriously at risk and might result in defeat of our military forces. The damage level could be sufficient to be catastrophic to the Nation, and our current vulnerability invites attack."

"Briefly, a single nuclear weapon exploded at high altitude above the United States will interact with the Earth’s atmosphere, ionosphere, and magnetic field to produce an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) radiating down to the Earth and additionally create electrical currents in the Earth. EMP effects are both direct and indirect. The former are due to electromagnetic "shocking" of electronics and stressing of electrical systems, and the latter arise from the damage that "shocked"--upset, damaged, and destroyed--electronics controls then inflict on the systems in which they are embedded. The indirect effects can be even more severe than the direct effects."

"The electromagnetic fields produced by weapons designed and deployed with the intent to produce EMP have a high likelihood of damaging electrical power systems, electronics, and information systems upon which American society depends. Their effects on dependent systems and infrastructures could be sufficient to qualify as catastrophic to the Nation."

"Depending on the specific characteristics of the attacks, unprecedented cascading failures of our major infrastructures could result. In that event, a regional or national recovery would be long and difficult and would seriously degrade the safety and overall viability of our Nation. The primary avenues for catastrophic damage to the Nation are through our electric power infrastructure and thence into our telecommunications, energy, and other infrastructures. These, in turn, can seriously impact other important aspects of our Nation’s life, including the financial system; means of getting food, water, and medical care to the citizenry; trade; and production of goods and services. The recovery of any one of the key national infrastructures is dependent on the recovery of others. The longer the outage, the more problematic and uncertain the recovery will be. It is possible for the functional outages to become mutually reinforcing until at some point the degradation of infrastructure could have irreversible effects on the country’s ability to support its population." (Overview, Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack, Volume 1; Executive Report, July 22, 2004, Dr. William R. Graham (Chairman))"

Appendices

Appendix 1 - Chronology of Iran Missile Testing
Appendix 2 - Threatening Statements of Iranian Regime
Appendix 3 - Three Failures of the League of Nations in the 1930s
Appendix 4 - Iran's Declared Foreign Policy in Images

Appendix 1

Iranian Missile Capability
Milestones

Largely with foreign help, Iran is becoming self sufficient in the production of ballistic missiles.

Shahab-3. Two of its first three tests of the 800-mile range Shahab-3 (July 1998, July 2000, and September 2000) reportedly were inconclusive or unsuccessful, but Iran conducted an apparently successful series of tests in June 2003. Iran subsequently called the Shahab-3, which would be capable of hitting Israel, operational and in production, and Iran formally delivered several of them to the Revolutionary Guard. Iran publicly displayed six Shahab-3 missiles in a parade on September 22, 2003. Despite Iran’s claims, U.S. experts say the missile is not completely reliable, and Iran tested a "new" [purportedly more accurate] version of it on August 12, 2004. Iran called the test successful, although some observers said Iran detonated the missile in mid-flight, raising questions about the success of the test. On November 17, 2004, then Secretary of State Powell said there is some information that Iran might be working to adapt that missile to carry a nuclear warhead.

Shahab-4. In October 2004, Iran announced it had succeeded in extending the range of the Shahab-3 to 1,200 miles, and it added in early November 2004 that it is capable of "mass producing" this longer-range missile, which Iran calls the Shahab-4. If Iran has made this missile operational with the capabilities Iran claims, large portions of the Near East and Southeastern Europe would be in range, including U.S. bases in Turkey. Iran’s new claims would appear to represent an abrogation of its pledge in November 7, 2003, to abandon development of a 1,200 mile range missile. On May 31, 2005, Iran announced it had successfully tested a solid-fuel version of the Shahab-3. The PMOI asserts Iran is secretly developing an even longer range missile, 1,500 miles, with the help of North Korean scientists.

Other Missiles. On September 6, 2002, Iran said it successfully tested a 200 mile range "Fateh 110" missile (solid propellant), and Iran said in late September 2002 that it had begun production of the missile. On March 18, 2005, the London Financial Times reported that Ukraine has admitting [selling?] 12 "X-55" cruise missiles to Iran in 2001; the missiles are said to have a range of about 1,800 miles. Iran also possesses a few hundred short-range ballistic missiles, i

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