What Is To Be Done About Nuclear Iran?

AMBASSADOR OREN:  All the time,  though I think the Nasser of Egypt of the  1950s and '60s has been replaced by the   Iran of Ahmadinejad and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, today.  And I think the stakes are inestimably higher.   Nasser had hundreds of tanks and planes and hundreds of thousands of men.  But Iran not only has far more men and tanks, it also has the potential for nuclear weapons.  It has a missile program that can strike any city in Israel, indeed,   strike any city in the Middle East. So the stakes are inestimably higher, but the rules of the game remain unchanged.   And that is that war can break out; a war that is not foreseen nor even wanted by most of the parties can break out in a   matter of minutes, and that's precisely  what happened in 1967.  And the ramifications of that war are impacting us still, more than forty years later.

MR. SIMON:  We're sitting in a moment right now where on the top of the Drudge Report and all other places,   Ayatollah Khamenei has announced that he's going to give a punch, whatever that may be -- do you have any ideas -- to the   West on February 11th when they have their memorial for their -- Khamenei's revolution.

AMBASSADOR OREN:  Well, we don't know what the punch may be.  Certainly,  the Iranians have not -- have proven capable of delivering such punches in the past.  They've blown up Jewish community centers in southern America.  They have   promoted terror throughout the Middle East, undermined Middle Eastern regimes, and certainly killed a great, great   number of Israelis.  They've triggered entire wars in the Middle East.  They were responsible, in a very large measure, for the Gaza campaign of 2008­  2009.  They were responsible, in no short measure, for the second Lebanon war of   2006.  So we know what an Iranian punch can look like.

MR. SIMON:  There's another report that just came out, I read the other day, from the Suddeutsche Zeitungen in Germany that they have, now, or are claiming to have a nuclear warhead already.  You have any comment on that?

AMBASSADOR OREN:  I can't confirm that report, no.

MR. SIMON:  Okay, because that's -- that could be -- maybe that's the punch.   If it is, that's pretty scary.


MR. SIMON:  Okay, now, let's ask the more general question that this leads to is can we live with nuclear Iran in the   sense that, in the old days, the United States, obviously, and still does live with a nuclear Russia and nuclear Soviet   Union.  But can we live with a nuclear Iran?

AMBASSADOR OREN:  Well, the answer is categorically no.  This isn't the Cold War.  During the Cold War, you had a   bipolar cold -- nuclear situation where each side knew where the red lines were.  We had the concept, you know, of mutual assured destruction, where the Russians knew full well that if they attacked Washington, New York, the United States   would respond by attacking Moscow and Leningrad.  And that calculus held over the course of fifty years.

We do not know, in the Middle East,  what counts for an unacceptable destruction in the eyes of the Iranians.  These are people who, during the Iran­ Iraq War, sent thousands of young people with little plastic "keys to heaven" around their neck to clear minefields.  A very difficult calculus obtained with the Iranians.

But that's only the, sort of the beginning of the threat posed by a nuclear-armed Iran, that Iran would put a nuclear warhead on top of a missile, and they have the missiles.  A nuclear-armed Iran threatens not only Israel; it threatens all western-oriented regimes in the Middle East.  It's the end of western hegemony in the Middle East.  It triggers a process of nuclear development in the Middle East in which all Middle Eastern states are going to require Middle Eastern -- nuclear weapons, so we'll all be happening -- and having a profoundly multi, multi-polar nuclear world which   will be inestimably unstable.  Can you imagine this?  And you have a situation where Iran is going to be able to pass on nuclear military capabilities to its terrorist proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas.

And there is no border, including the borders of the United States of America, which are not porous to terrorists.

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