A nuclear capable Iran is unacceptable. The current state of the Iranian nuclear program is not only a serious threat to U.S. national security, but to the entire world. Iran must be prevented from obtaining a nuclear weapon; containment is not an option.
Over the last several years, many diplomatic efforts have been attempted by the U.S. and other world powers to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons capability. The P5+1, which consists of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council has used diplomacy and sanctions as a tool to change Iran's behavior. Recent reports concerning an agreement on direct talks between the Obama administration and Iranian officials is in question. Either way, these talks would not ensue until after the presidential election. Iran is buying time.
Unfortunately, the Iranian nuclear program continues.
In Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to UN General Assembly on Sept. 27, he explained Iran would have enough enriched uranium in its stockpile by the middle of next year. This statement is based on current production rates and reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency and is supported by many nuclear experts.
In response to Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech, Iran stated the goals of its nuclear program are "peaceful." This statement deserves at least a healthy dose of skepticism as November 2011 IAEA reports challenge Iran's claim to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
A nuclear capable Iran is problematic for the U.S. and for its allies for many reasons.
First, there will likely be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. The Middle East is already volatile; nuclear arms in the hands of unstable regimes are a deadly combination.
Second, the world will see the cost of oil skyrocket. Because Iran can possibly close the Straits of Hormuz, it has the power to pressure oil-exporting nations who use the Straits. As a result, world oil prices will increase, and America's economy will be negatively impacted.
Third, Iran has been on the state department's list of state sponsors of terrorism since 1984. A nuclear capable Iran will be able to provide Islamist terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hizballah with nuclear materials. Islamist terrorists will be even more threatening if they are backed by a nuclear-capable Iran.
Fourth, U.S. soldiers will face even more severe threats in the Middle East. If Iran becomes nuclear-capable, it will become a regional power that will increase its support to terrorists who are already targeting U.S. troops.
A nuclear capable Iran will weaken American influence. Middle Eastern countries will feel pressured to follow Iran's example. Consequently, the U.S. will be seen as a weaker power because of the failure in preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear capability.
The threat of the Iranian nuclear program increases as centrifuges continue to spin. A failure to do so poses a dangerous threat to American national security interests. We should reject any policy that seeks containment as an option in response to the Iranian nuclear threat and we should support diplomatic, political, and economic efforts to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.
Lilly Rapson, senior in political science with a minor in Jewish studies,
president of Students for Israel at CU-Boulder