How Far Would The US Go to Stop Iran

April 09, 2006

Julian Philips: That is the question, how far would the US go to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon as we are talking about. Kiran, one report suggests that the military may have war on its mind.

Kiran Chetry: Coming reaction is now from Fox News Foreign Affairs Analyst Alireza Jafarzadeh. He joins us from DC this morning. Good to be with you and the White House reaction to this article which says there has been some planning phases going on right now, possibly bomb Iran preemptively. What do you think about that?

Alireza Jafarzadeh: Good morning. Well, the President of the United States has said repeatedly that all options are on the table and I am sure Pentagon has always had countless plans for different contingencies. But I think the real issue now is that—the reason we see all this news is that—there is concern in Washington that there is a race between two clocks in Iran.

One is the nuclear weapons clock operated by the Iranian regime, sped up by the new radical president Ahmadinejad and the other one is a regime change clock that is operated by the Iranian opposition. And the concern is that the ayatollahs will get the bomb before the regime is changed. However, I don’t think this military option is a viable option.

Alisyn Camerota: why not? I mean lots of people are saying that diplomacy is not a viable option when you’re dealing with president Ahmadinejad and in fact the military option, bombing some places where parts of the bomb would be stored is really the only option.

Alireza Jafarzadeh: well, I agree with those who say diplomacy is really not a viable option either. However, there are others in Washington who are gaining momentum in saying that there is a third option, that is neither tied to infeasible military attacks nor failed diplomacy and the third option is to empower the Iranian people, the Iranian opposition to change the regime from within and that’s what I see in Washington gaining momentum because the Iranian population are opposed to the Iranian regime. Iran is very different from Iraq and a number of other countries in the region and the population—especially the younger generation—is very much opposed. There is a viable opposition, very powerful, very strong, very defiant of the ayatollahs, very well organized and this is the opposition that actually revealed all the major nuclear sites of Iran and that’s what some in the administration and outside of the administration are thinking about it.

Julian Phillips: We have to be very careful about this because they may be opposed to the current regime but what are they in favor of? I guess that is the question that I have.

Alireza Jafarzadeh: Well Julian, the opposition has made it very clear that they are in favor of a secular democracy in Iran. They want freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of political parties, equal rights for men and women. In fact the opposition is led by a woman. They want to live in coexistence with international community. What the Ayatollahs are saying has nothing to do with the Iranian population. Ahmadinejad represents the regime but not the population and that’s why many in Washington are shifting away from Ahmadinejad and away from a military option and more toward the option of supporting the opposition to bring about change in Iran.

Kiran Chetry: My other question from the article which talks about other nations. What I have always wondered is why is it that it seems that the Bush Administration or America in general, it seems largely more concerned about this threat than the United Nations, the IAEA, other major international players who I think should be concerned as well.

Alireza Jafarzadeh: I agree with you Kiran. I think a number of other countries; many Europeans who have had many economic dealings and economic interests in Iran are unwilling to take this nuclear issue very seriously. It was EU-3 that was involved in negotiations with Iran. A number of Arab countries have been silent mostly because they were afraid to intimidate Iran. But I think the situation now is far beyond the point that we can see inaction. Everyone has to take it very seriously. Iran’s nuclear weapons program is extremely advanced. They have all the necessary ingredients to really put together the bomb. They have the enrichment facility, they have the technology, and they have the experts. The program is increasingly moving underground into tunnels. It’s been controlled by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the reports I am getting from my sources inside Iran says that the program is anywhere from 1 to 2 years away from giving Iran the capability to have the nuclear weapons and this is not enough time.

I think we are already behind and we have to catch up and we have to do anything possible to see a major change in attitude. I have to emphasize here that Ahmadinejad’s mission is to give the Ayatollahs their first nuclear bomb at any cost. So, no negotiation is going to abandon Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Kiran Chetry: If that’s true, then that just boils out of water every other theories about what their intentions are.

Alisyn Camerota: Alireza Jafarzadeh, thank you so much for joining us with all the input. Very interesting what he said. Because it is actually more of optimistic feeling that if diplomacy isn’t going to work, if they are a year or two away, as he said from getting nuclear weapons and if we are not going to bomb them, well then the only other option, which he is saying, is to foment this opposition which actually is more peaceful.

Julian Phillips: Before we move on, the history dictates that bombing has never really worked anywhere. It didn’t work in Vietnam; it didn’t work