That wouldn't be the only catastrophic consequence for American interests in the Middle East. Our credibility and reputation would suffer a serious blow if Iran succeeds in producing its own nuclear weapons after we've been claiming for years that such an event could not and would not be tolerated. A nuclear-armed and violently anti-American Iran would be an enormous threat to us and to our allies. Israel in particular would face the gravest threat to its existence since its creation. Iran's leaders have repeatedly called for Israel's destruction, and Iran already possesses missiles that can reach Israel. Once these missiles are armed with nuclear warheads, nothing could stop the mullahs from launching a second Holocaust. It's only a matter of time before Iran develops missiles that could reach U.S. territory.
Even without nuclear weapons, Iran has provided arms used to kill American soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran is also the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. It has shielded al-Qaeda leaders, including one of Osama bin Laden's sons. Imagine how much worse it would be for us if this regime acquired nuclear weapons.
President Obama once said a nuclear-armed Iran would be "unacceptable." Yet, Iran's nuclear progress still continues unchecked. Russia continues to support Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactors. It also continues to sell arms to Iran — despite the Obama administration's much-touted "reset" policy with Russia. The administration trumpets the United Nations sanctions passed earlier this year, but those sanctions are not the "crippling" ones we were promised. Much more can be done, such as banning insurance for shipments to Iran, banning all military sales to Iran, ending all trade credits, banning all financial dealings with Iranian banks, limiting Iran's access to international capital markets and banking services, closing air space and waters to Iran's national air and shipping lines, and, especially, ending Iran's ability to import refined petroleum. These would be truly "crippling" sanctions. They would work if implemented.
Some have said the Israelis should undertake military action on their own if they are convinced the Iranian program is approaching the point of no return. But Iran's nuclear weapons program is not just Israel's problem; it is the world's problem. I agree with the former British prime minister Tony Blair, who said recently that the West must be willing to use force "if necessary" if that is the only alternative. (Continues here at USA Today)