Saturday, January 28, 2006

Iran: Countdown to a Showdown - Part II

Two American congressmen have proposed a 'quarantine' they think could stop Iran’s mullahs from building nukes. It’s a high-risk strategy.

Web-Exclusive Commentary
By Christopher Dickey
Updated: 11:21 a.m. ET Jan. 25, 2006

Jan. 25, 2006 - Congressman Robert Andrews, a Democrat from New Jersey, and Mark Steven Kirk, a Republican from Illinois, made a proposal on the floor of the House last June that, as far as I can tell, sank without a trace. We’ve heard nothing about it from the administration since, and when I’ve raised it with several experts on Iran they say it’s potentially counterproductive, possibly very dangerous. But with tensions between the mullahs and the rest of the world continuing to grow because of Iran’s nuclear research, maybe it’s time to take another look at what these congressmen described as a “surgical sanction.”

“I find the current U.S. policy debate on Iran is too simplistic,” Kirk, who still serves in the U.S. Navy Reserves, told the House. “It is just two-dimensional: either let Iran have the bomb, putting the Middle East under a nuclear hair trigger, or let Israel do it”—that is, try to blow the hell out of Iran’s installations—“and have another war.” (For the record, Iran says its intentions are entirely peaceful.) Is there another way to stop the spiral toward Armageddon? Kirk and Andrews think so. “Iran has a unique vulnerability,” Kirk told the House, “one that opens a new window of diplomacy that could help us achieve all of our objectives without a shot being fired.”

That “Achilles’ heel of the Iranian autocrats,” said Andrews, picking up the theme across the aisle, is gasoline. The mullahs “have presided over such a dysfunctional country that they are in a situation where they sell crude oil in huge amounts to the rest of the world but import gasoline.” ...

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