Former U.S. Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger says that, unless civilized nations act soon to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions, "the world's going to go to war over this."
His remark came in reaction to the news that Russia has announced it will begin loading nuclear-fuel rods into an Iranian nuclear reactor on Aug. 21.
International nuclear watchdogs will monitor the fueling process, Russia contends. Iran also has guaranteed in writing that it will send all its spent fuel rods to Russia for processing, to prevent enriched material from being used in nuclear weapons, Russia says.
But former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton said Friday that Iran soon could use fuel rods at its Bushehr reactor to produce weapons-grade material.
Bolton also ruled out any attack on the reactor once it is loaded with uranium fuel due to the risk of radioactive contamination of the Persian Gulf region.
Eagleburger clearly shared Bolton's alarm at Friday's developments.
"There will be a real blow up," Eagleburger told Fox News host Neil Cavuto. "Somebody will end up using one of these things.
"If Iran gets the weapon it's going to use it," added Eagleburger, who served in four presidential administrations, including a brief stint as secretary of State under former President George H.W. Bush. "I think they're on the way to getting it, and we're going to let it happen.
"And when I say 'we,'" he continued, "I don't just mean the U.S. I mean the civilized world, the Russians.
"They are going to regret someday what they have done because their neighbor, Iran, is going to have a nuclear weapon and it's going to throw it around like mad. And Israel will certainly be the first target. And the world's going to go to war over this. It very much has a potential of happening . . . As sure as I'm sitting here, I know it's coming."
Eagleburger said international nonproliferation went awry "when we let the North Koreans get the weapon."
That event, he said, started the world "down the wrong track and we've been on it ever since.
Eagleburger said the ongoing game of nuclear chicken that Iran appears to be playing reminds him of events leading up to the Second World War.
"When you're as old as I am," he told Cavuto, "if you remember how much this sounds like the workup to WWII, when everybody was letting things go by, letting things happen, and nobody was doing anything to stop what was clearly a track toward war. And we're doing it again, we're doing it again.
"We know enough about nuclear weapons that we know this thing is going to happen. It may well be a historic time. The issue is going to be whether the Israelis decide at some point they have to act.
"If they do, it will be for reasons that I at least understand, but the world will not understand them. And the Israelis will be attacked for doing what they have to do to protect themselves, but it probably won't be enough," he said.
Eagleburger predicted that Israel would unfairly suffer international condemnation if it attacks Iran's nuclear facilities.
"What would you do if you were an Israeli and somebody said he was going to build a nuclear weapon and it was going to be used against Israel?" he said.
Eagleburger said the entire international community would bear responsibility for not stopping Iran.
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