Opinion

LETTER – Take action to strengthen sanctions on Iran

It was important for the Ledger to quote former President George W. Bush’s remarks to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations last week (“Bush at Conference of Presidents: Iran can’t be trusted,” Ledger, 10/18/13), in which he quoted from his May 2008 speech to Israel’s parliament, which stated:

“Permitting the world’s leading sponsor of terror to possess the world’s deadliest weapons would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations.”

Yet, unless Congress maintains and strengthens existing sanctions on Iran, over the Obama Administration’s objections, we may come closer to that betrayal.

As the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) stated in an editorial in the Near East Report on Oct. 23, “while we talk Iran continues to develop its nuclear program.”

As AIPAC also points out, “in the five months since Hassan Rouhani won the Iranian presidential election, Iran is estimated to have installed more than 500 advanced centrifuges – a 75 percent increase – in its nuclear facility at Natanz.

The regime now has close to 20,000 centrifuges spinning uranium, continues to produce 20 percent enriched uranium and has not yielded in constructing a new heavy-water reactor that will produce plutonium. … It has also refused to allow international inspectors access to the Parchin military facility where nuclear explosion testing is believed to have occurred.”

Furthermore, the U.S.-based Institute for Science and International Security, an independent group that tracks Iran’s nuclear capabilities, reported last week that Iran could produce enough weapons-grade uranium for one atomic bomb as quickly as one month, by using all its enriched uranium and all its first-generation centrifuges, according to the Wall St. Journal (WSJ).

However, the White House is pressing Congress to hold back on new sanctions against Iran, against growing concern of some in Congress and some of our foreign allies including Saudi Arabia and Israel, according to the WSJ.

The White House evidently wants “flexibility” and seeks to appease Iran’s hardliners.

The problem is that, with all due respect, Obama’s credibility on getting Iran to curtail its nuclear efforts has left much to be desired, to say the least. All his negotiations thus far have failed.

Iran has simply used negotiating delay to increase its nuclear weapons efforts and its threats.

It is Congress, not the administration, that has credibility on this issue. It is congressional sanctions, a few of which Obama even opposed, which have brought Iran to its knees. Iranian oil exports “have been cut in half over the past year due to American and European sanctions,” according to the WSJ.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly stated that this is “the primary reason Rouhani’s government has so aggressively embraced diplomacy since taking office.” These sanctions have “decimated Iran’s finances.” If Iran wants sanctions to cease, all it has to do is to stop its nuclear activities completely. The fact that Iran’s hardliners refuse to do so shows that they really want to retain a nuclear capability, which they can use for nuclear weapons as soon as we let down our guard.

The fact that Iran still wants to retain nuclear capabilities sounds like a fire bell in the night.

It is therefore essential that we write our Senators and Congressmen to strengthen our sanctions, to keep the pressure up and to bear down on Iran until it actually ceases its nuclear activities and takes all other action as requested above, including but not limited to destruction of all its nuclear facilities, regardless of their stated purpose – destruction that is verified by evidence that is clear and convincing.

Writing is easy – each Senator and Congressman has his or her own website with easy instructions on how to email them.

This is no time to sit back and hope someone else emails. If all of us did that, then no one would – and do you really want to be responsible for that – and all its consequences?

Daniel R. Schaefer, Hartford

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