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Let's make a deal

"Let's make a deal" Continued...

Issue: "Northern light," Sept. 20, 2008

Iran's Nuclear Ambitions

It has been two years since the United Nations ordered Iran to stop enriching uranium, and despite multiple sanctions and incentives, Iran's leaders have refused to back down. While Iran insists its nuclear ambitions are for peaceful purposes, many countries believe they are a cover for a clandestine nuclear weapons project. Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum told WORLD he is "very concerned" about Iran's intentions: "Iran has a leadership that has shown itself to be apocalyptic in its orientation, so it is more dangerous, I think, than any prior state that has acquired advanced weapons."

What's at stake? Pipes lists multiple implications of a nuclear-armed Iran, including potential control over the Persian Gulf and its resources, the ability to acquire broader regional influence, and the potential for attacks on Israel, Europe, or the United States.

Besides the threat of a direct nuclear attack on any one of Iran's enemies, analysts warn of an electromagnetic pulse attack: a nuclear weapon detonated 100 miles over the United States (or elsewhere) that could shut down the economy by creating a pulse that would jam circuits on the ground.

Key players: Commonly referred to as the 5+1 states, the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain, and Germany have used sanctions and incentives to persuade Tehran to abandon its nuclear ambitions. But Russia and China have strong economic ties to Tehran and have blocked tougher sanctions.

What to expect: CIA estimates say Iran will have a ballistic missile capable of reaching U.S. shores by 2015, but some Israeli analysts believe Iran will reach "the point of no return" in its nuclear capability by early 2009. As the International Atomic Energy Agency prepares its latest report on Iran's nuclear activities (scheduled for release this month), Israel seems poised and ready for action. Some observers say Israel's narrow window for a missile attack against Iranian nuclear facilities is between November's presidential elections and January.

-with reporting by Mindy Belz

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