Crackdown on Iran’s nuclear weapons program is overdue

German Chancellor Angela Merkel compared the threat of Iran’s ongoing nuclear weapons program to the threat of Nazism in the 1930s. The world, Merkel concluded, “must prevent Iran from developing its nuclear program.”

That, however, was four years ago.

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In the years since, the international community has done almost nothing to stop Iran’s march towards obtaining nuclear weapons. The failure to deal with Iran demonstrates the impotence of the international institutions established after World War II to ensure a collective response to tyranny. At the UN Security Council, the world’s most powerful nations debate, pausing occasionally to pass toothless resolutions. The International Atomic Energy Agency has been equally ineffective, recently admitting its efforts to contain Iran reached a “dead end.”

Nor has the U.S. government altered Iran’s course. President Barack Obama’s strategy of engaging Iran and offering to negotiate without conditions has not only failed, but it has been greeted by hostility and recriminations from the mullahs in Iran and their puppet leader Ahmadinejad. After Tehran ignored Obama’s year-end 2009 deadline, the president seems to be in no hurry to take a stand against terror.

The world continues to do business with Iran, including trade that advances its nuclear program. Merkel’s own nation is Iran’s top European trading partner. German engineering giant Siemens just announced plans to stop selling to Iran; other German firms continue to provide the regime with advanced equipment and know-how. For example, Herrenknecht, a top tunneling company, has three offices in Tehran. Last fall, a German ship leased to Iran was caught carrying ammunition bound for terrorists in Lebanon.

Iran keeps moving forward. The regime is hiding and protecting its atomic efforts in a network of tunnels and underground labs, attempting to ensure that the program cannot be halted by bunker-buster bombs.

Iran is bankrolling and supplying Shiite militias in Iraq along with Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. No longer content to ignore the world’s demands, Iran has begun making its own, destabilizing the Middle East and upending whatever balance of power exists by becoming a nuclear power.

Back in 2007, Obama called Iran a “threat to us all.” Over the last three years, the threat posed by Tehran grows stronger as Western diplomats and politicians have done nothing but talk.

Today, the time for talk has passed. For now there is a promising diplomatic option: imposing tough economic sanctions that force Iran’s leaders to choose between abandoning their nuclear ambitions, or losing their hold on power.

The House and Senate have both passed Iranian sanctions legislation. The Congress needs to move quickly to pass a single version of this legislation and get it to the president’s desk. This would be the first step in winning support from European allies and the United Nations for serious sanctions.

How long can the West afford to wait until we get serious about stopping Iran? Once we know for sure, it will be too late.

Washington