There is only one way to block the Iranians from building a nuclear bomb, according to former ambassador John Bolton: Bomb them first.
"The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program," Bolton wrote in an opinion piece for The New York Times
on Thursday. "Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure."
The "inconvenient truth," Bolton insists, is that "only military action like Israel's 1981 attack
on Saddam Hussein's Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required
. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed."
Such an attack would not need to destroy Iran's entire nuclear infrastructure, but instead, Bolton said, would break key links in the nuclear fuel cycle and set back Iran's program by at least three to five years.
"Rendering inoperable the Natanz and Fordow uranium-enrichment installations and the Arak heavy-water production facility and reactor would be priorities," said Bolton. "So, too, would be the little-noticed but critical uranium-conversion facility at Isfahan."
The United States could thoroughly destroy the targets, he said, but Israel, acting alone, could also take the necessary steps. He also called for the action to combine with U.S. support for regime change in Iran.
Meanwhile, Bolton said, President Barack Obama's fascination with striking a nuclear deal with Iran could trigger a wave of nuclear programs throughout the Middle East.
"The president's biggest legacy could be a thoroughly nuclear-weaponized Middle East," said Bolton.
Experts have been worried for years that it would happen, said Bolton. As in other cases such as India, Pakistan and North Korea, the West should have been vigilant, he says, "but failing to act in the past is no excuse for making the same mistakes now."
Obama, like his predecessors, inherited the effects of past presidents' decisions, but is responsible for what is happening on his watch, Bolton said, and his "approach on Iran has brought a bad situation to the brink of catastrophe."
Meanwhile, comprehensive international sanctions have crippled Iran somewhat but have not stopped the nuclear program's progress.
"Even absent palpable proof, like a nuclear test, Iran's steady progress toward nuclear weapons has long been evident," said Bolton. "Now, the arms race has begun."
He noted that Saudi Arabia is expected to move first, as "no way would the Sunni Saudis allow the Shiite Persians to outpace them in the quest for dominance."
Analysts believe that Saudi Arabia is able to get nuclear weapons from Pakistan, and Bolton said Egypt or Turkey would not be far behind.
Israel's nuclear capability, though, is mainly seen as a deterrent, not as an offensive measure, and has not brought on an arms race, but Iran is different.
The evidence is mounting that Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey are quickening their pace for nuclear weapons of their own, said Bolton.
"Saudi Arabia has signed nuclear cooperation agreements with South Korea, China, France and Argentina, aiming to build a total of 16 reactors by 2030," said Bolton.
The Saudis have also held recent meetings with leaders from Pakistan, Egypt, and Turkey, and "nuclear matters were almost certainly on the agenda."
Bolton said that Pakistan could quickly supply weapons, and he warned not to rule out North Korea dealing behind the backs of its Iranian allies "for the right price."
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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