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WashPost: Stopping an Iranian Bomb

Author: John P. Hannah, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
May 19, 2009

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Outreach isn't enough to stop Iran's bomb program, a former Cheney aide asserts.

Hanging over yesterday's meeting between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was one overriding question: Can the president's strategy of diplomatic engagement persuade Iran to cease its efforts to develop nuclear weapons? Unfortunately, history offers little cause for hope -- especially if the United States remains focused on trying to reassure Iran of America's benign intentions. Successful denuclearization of hostile states is most likely to occur as a result of regime change, coercive diplomacy or military action, not U.S. pledges of mutual respect.

Consider: South Africa surrendered its nuclear arsenal in 1990 only after the apartheid regime began unraveling. Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine abandoned nuclear weapons after they emerged as independent states in the wake of the Soviet Union's collapse. In the 1980s, the decisions by Brazil and Argentina to end nuclear weapons programs were linked to their transitions from military dictatorships to liberal democracies.

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