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Jewish World Review March 13, 2003 / 9 Adar II, 5763

Michael Ledeen

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Iran: Nuclear suicide bombers? | The story of Iran's mad dash to develop nuclear weapons is finally attracting attention. The most recent alarm is in Time magazine, quoting various experts to the effect that Iran is far more advanced than previously believed.

Much of this information has been in the hands of the United States government, including some that has not been made public - including reports of a clandestine heavy water project, and the identities of numerous nuclear physicists and technicians from the former Soviet empire, above all Ukraine.

Just a few weeks ago, Georgia's President Eduard Shevardnadze warned the world that top Georgian atomic experts had gone to Iran to work, and he was greatly alarmed at the discovery.

As we contemplate the significance of this "breaking news," keep two main points in mind.

1) The relationship between Iran and North Korea is still underappreciated. Many people laughed at President Bush when he included North Korea in the Axis of Evil. They are not laughing today, but they still have not understood the intimacy of the relationship between Pyongyang and Tehran.

Iran has had many teams working with the North Koreans for years now. Iran has tested North Korean missiles, while North Koreans have dug a tunnel network around the west and north of Tehran, so that the Iranians can conduct activities safe from the prying eyes of our spy satellites. And the North Koreans have helped the Iranians with their nuclear program as well, which is one of the reasons Iran has advanced so rapidly.

Moreover, the Iranians have fully appreciated the effect of "going nuclear." They think the North Koreans have buffaloed the United States, and they believe Iran will only be able to stand up to American power if they possess nuclear weapons.

2) The mullahs are determined to obliterate Israel. Former President (and actual strongman) Hashemi Rafsanjani gave a speech many months ago in which he said that the moment Iran obtained nuclear bombs, they would be used to destroy Israel. He added that even if Israel responded in kind, and wiped out Iran in its entirety, it would still be an enormous net gain for Islam: Nearly half the Jews in the world would be killed, but only a small percentage of the world's Muslims would die in a nuclear exchange.

Many will say that this is sheer bravado, but not so long ago suicide terrorism was inconceivable to most of the experts. Remember that international airline security was based on the premise that nobody would get on an airplane if they knew it was sabotaged. Thus, the key to security was insuring that every suitcase on the plane was accompanied by its owner.

That guaranteed safety - unless a new kind of terrorist emerged, a killer prepared to sacrifice his or her own life in order to kill large numbers of infidels.

Suicide terrorism was not invented in Iran (I believe it was first used in India and Bangladesh), but the Iranians took it to a new level of effectiveness when they sent trucks into the American Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon in the mid 1980s. The cult of suicidal "martyrdom" was openly embraced by the Ayatollah Khomeni's regime, and as recently as last autumn, government-sponsored rallies in Tehran had sign-up tables for suicidal volunteers.

All of this brings us back to the fundamental, unanswered questions about our war against terrorism: Why are we doing nothing to support the Iranian people's efforts to rid themselves of their monstrous regime? How can it be that Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage publicly claims that Iran is a "democracy"? Why are we making deals with Iranian-sponsored Shi'ites regarding the future government of Iraq?

The true nature of the Iranian regime is obvious to anyone with a minimum of curiosity: It tops the State Department's list of countries that sponsor terrorism. It is now public knowledge that the mullahs are literally hell-bent on producing nuclear weapons.

Will we finally move against all the components of the Axis of Evil, or must we wait until President Bush's analysis is confirmed by a new act of horror?

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JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of, most recently, ""The War Against the Terror Masters," Comment by clicking here.


03/11/03: A Theory: What if there's method to the Franco-German madness?
03/05/03: The Iranian-Election Revolt: The people speak. The West won't listen
02/19/03: The willful blindness of those who will not see
02/12/03: The Europeans Know More Than They Now Pretend? They choose to dawdle and obstruct
02/03/03: Monumental failure: Nelson Mandela had promise
01/30/03: Elevation: The president knows what it's all about
01/29/03: No Leader: France's Chirac is all about personal interest
01/28/03: The Axis of Evil Redux: Same place, a year later
01/27/03: The Return of the Ayatollah: Washington could afford a little more attention on Iran
01/13/03: How we could lose
01/09/03: Fish are Better than Women: Gauging U.S. priorities
01/07/03: The Shape of Things to Come: The terror masters are now waiting for us
12/20/02: A Prophecy for the New Year --- Faster, please!
12/16/02: Scud Surrender: The "W" factor
12/13/02: The Heart of Darkness: The mullahs make terror possible
12/12/02: The Real War
12/09/02: Tom Friedman's Reformation: His Iran
11/26/02: How Tyrannies Fall: Opportunity time in Iran
11/22/02: The Blind Leading the Blind: The New York Times and the Iranian crisis
11/13/02: The Temperature Rises: We should liberate Iran first --- now
11/05/02: End of the Road: Iran's Mohammed Khatami, on his way out
10/29/02: The Angleton Dialogues, Contnued: What George Tenet doesn’t know
10/24/02: The Iranian Comedy Hour: In the U.S., the silence continues
10/16/02: Sniper, Saboteur, or Sleeper? Channeling James Jesus Angleton
10/01/02: The real foe
09/27/02: The Iranian String Quartet: The mullahs get increasingly nervous
09/25/02: The Dubya Doctrine
09/23/02: Intelligence? What intelligence?
09/12/02: America's revenge: To turn tyrannies into democracies
09/10/02: Iran & Afghanistan & Us: We'll have to deal with the mullahcracy, sooner or later
09/04/02: Iran, according to the Times: All the nonsense that's fit to print
08/21/02: Life and death of Abu Nidal tells us a great deal about our enemies
08/08/02: Can You Keep a Secret?: The media silence on Iran
08/06/02: Fantasy Reporting: The latest disinformation from the Washington Post
08/02/02: Propping Up the Terror Masters: Europe's Solana on tour
07/16/02: Bush vs. the Mullahs: Getting on the side of the Iranian freedom fighters
07/12/02: The State Department Goes Mute: It's official: State has no message
07/09/02: History being made, but the West appears clueless
06/05/02: Is George Tenet endangering peace in Israel?
06/03/02: Ridiculous, even for a journalist
05/20/02: So how come nobody's been fired yet?
05/14/02: Open doors for thugs
04/20/02: Iran on the Brink … and the U.S. does nothing
04/16/02: It’s the war, stupid … someone remind Colin Powell
04/08/02: Gulled: In the Middle East, Arafat doesn't matter
04/02/02: Faster, Please: The war falters
03/26/02: The Revolution Continues: What's brewing in Iran
03/18/02: Iran simmers still: Where's the press?
03/05/02: We can't lose any more ground in Iran
02/14/02: The Great Iranian Hoax
02/12/02: Unnoticed Bombshell: Key information in a new book
01/31/02: The truth behind the Powell play
01/29/02: My past with "Johnny Jihad's" lawyer
01/21/02: It's Munich, all over again
01/08/02: What's the Holdup?: It's time for the next battles in the war against terrorism
12/11/01: We must be imperious, ruthless, and relentless
12/06/01: Remembering my family friend, Walt Disney
11/28/01: The Barbara Olson Bomb: Understanding the war
11/13/01: How We're Doing: The Angleton Files, IV
11/06/01: A great revolutionary war is coming
10/25/01: How to talk to a terrorist
10/23/01: Creative Reporting: Learning to appreciate press briefings
10/19/01: Not the Emmys: A Beltway award presentation
10/15/01: Rediscovering American character
10/11/01: Somehow, I've missed Arafat's praise of the first stage of our war on terrorism
10/04/01: What do we not know?
09/28/01: Machiavelli On Our War: Some advice for our leaders
09/25/01: No Room for the U.N.: Keeping Annan & co. out of the picture
09/21/01: Creative destruction
09/14/01: Who Killed Barbara Olson?
08/22/01: How Israel will win this war
08/15/01: Bracing for war
08/09/01: More Dithering Democrats
08/02/01: Delirious Dems
07/31/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit, cont'd
07/19/01: Be careful what you wish for
07/17/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit
07/05/01: Let Slobo Go
05/30/01: Anybody out there afraid of the Republicans?
05/09/01: The bad guys to the rescue
05/07/01: Bye-bye, Blumenthal
04/20/01: Handling China
04/11/01: EXAM TIME!
04/05/01: Chinese over-water torture
03/27/01: Fighting AIDS in Africa is a losing proposition
03/14/01: Big Bird, Oscar, and other threats
03/09/01: Time for a good, old-fashioned purge
03/06/01: Powell’s great (mis)adventure
02/26/01: The Clinton Sopranos
02/20/01: Unity Schmoonity: Sharon is defying the will of the people
01/30/01: The Rest of the Rich Story
01/22/01: Ashcroft the Jew
01/11/01: A fitting close to the Clinton years
12/26/00: Continuing Clinton's shameful legacy
12/21/00: Clinton’s gift for Bush

© 2001, Michael Ledeen