The Spiraling Consequences of Iran’s Nuclear Drive

by Benjamin Weinthal

On Saturday, Iran’s Russian enablers jump-started the fueling of the Islamic Republic’s first nuclear power plant, Bushehr. While the U.S. State Department pooh-poohed Bushehr as not “a proliferation risk,” the spread of Iranian nuclear technology has already reached the radical Islamic regime in Sudan: According to an al-Jazeera report today, “Earlier this year, Iran offered to transfer nuclear technology to Sudan.” Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is allied with Osama bin Laden and responsible for the genocide of 300,000 people in Darfur, plans to have an operational nuclear facility by 2020.

But the West has employed a kid-glove approach to stopping the Russian drive to supply Iran with nuclear technology and know-how and with gas deliveries, which help prop up the Ahmadinejad regime.

And, as my colleague Jonathan Schanzer noted in last week’s Houston Chronicle, “Then there’s the Russian firm Gazprom, which produces oil in Iran. Industry publications report that it is in discussions to supply gasoline to Iran in open defiance of U.N. sanctions. Its wholly owned subsidiary, Gazprom Marketing & Trading, has offices in Houston.” In short, Russia is making a mockery of U.N., U.S., and EU sanctions.

When one genocidal Islamic regime (Iran) can shift nuclear technology to its tyrannical mirror image (Sudan), Western security alarm bells should be ringing. Nuclear proliferation is underway in the Islamic world. Yet the West remains largely on the sidelines of the security threat.

Picking up the pace of Western economic pressure on Russia would be a fresh beginning, and far preferable to watering down Bushehr as a non-proliferation matter. The State Department could send a crystal clear message to Russia by shutting down Gazprom’s operations in the U.S., and the EU could give serious thought to disentangling itself from its Russia energy addiction; it could also apply its new sanctions against the development of Iran’s energy sector to Russian energy companies.

Benjamin Weinthal is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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