The Corner

Iran Is Testing the Civilized World

The more resolutely the civilized world has stood against the threat of militant Islamic terrorism, the more defiantly Iran’s ruling ayatollahs have responded with dangerous and menacing behavior. It is time for President Obama, Congress, and world leaders to awaken fully to the threat posed by a nuclear-armed Iran and address the problem with the focused seriousness it demands.

The International Atomic Energy Agency recently reported that “the agency remains concerned about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed nuclear related activities, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.”

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has defiantly appointed Abbasi Davani — whom the UN Security Council has blacklisted for his involvement in the developing Iran’s nuclear capabilities — as his vice president and as head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, making him a representative to the IAEA. With a shepherd like Davani, who needs wolves?

Davani recently told an IAEA gathering in Vienna that “Iran has developed an advanced centrifuge model whose rotors spin at greater speed, thus enabling the enrichment of a larger amount of uranium in a shorter time,” according to a recent article in Haaretz, Israel’s oldest daily newspaper. Investigative reporter Yossi Melman goes on to say that Davani told the gathering of IAEA ministers that such centrifuges “will be constructed at the second uranium enrichment site that Iran built secretly near the Revolutionary Guards base just outside of Qom.” Melman reports that western intelligence experts believe “the Qom facility contains only 3,000 centrifuges, [which] can only have one goal — enriching uranium for the production of a nuclear weapon.”

The Iranian regime is moving aggressively to draw neighboring countries and political organizations into its sinister web of influence, aimed at menacing not just the West, but also the emerging indigenous forces of peaceful democratic change. As the Iranian regime is taking advantage of the “Arab Spring” to expand its threatening reach, we need the help of all thoughtful nations to stand together against this threat.

While continuing to develop nuclear weapons, support terrorism and repress its own people, the Iranian government is also backing the brutal suppression of pro-democracy forces in Syria and backing a unilateral declaration of independence of Palestine at the United Nations as a way to sabotage real negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Indeed, Iran has already expanded its violent hegemony through its active support of Hamas. The recent agreement between Iran-backed Hamas and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas would extend Iranian influence to the West Bank and threatens to deprive Israel of a peace partner.

Iran already has immense power in Lebanon through its Hezbollah allies, which now dominate the government. The Muslim Brotherhood may soon take a share of power in Egypt. Control of the West Bank by Islamic extremist fundamentalists would draw the menacing ring around Israel even tighter and put major sites of importance to Christians and Christianity at risk.

The Iranian-backed Palestinians aim to do an end-run around direct negotiations with Israel by calling on the United Nations to preemptively declare Palestinian statehood. This will only embolden extremists and make lasting peace far less likely. Their resolution may also call for an immediate right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants into Israel, which would swamp Israel demographically and destroy Israel’s very nature as being the one and only homeland for the Jewish people.

It should also be noted that under Israel’s control, Christians have open, free, and safe access to the Holy Places, which was not the case before 1967.

These are just some of the defiant, menacing actions Iran is undertaking that have led me, along with a coalition of Christian leaders representing 25 million Americans of faith, to send letters to President Obama, Congress, and foreign ambassadors and heads of state, requesting that they take the immediate diplomatic steps necessary to keep Iran from repressing its citizens, developing nuclear weapons, and supporting terrorism through its proxies. We believe the threat Iran poses to the peace and stability of the region is real, lethal, and imminent, but we still believe and pray that it can be countered with prompt and proper action by the civilized world.

— Richard Land is president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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