Today's Wall Street Journal has a must-read editorial about Iran's nuclear ambitions, and our own inability (read: refusal) to block them.
As the Journal notes, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, a lifelong Democrat, has been quietly prosecuting major cases against illicit Iranian financing and procurement networks. These organizations, stretching from Iran to Europe (and even the United States) amount to what Mr. Morgenthau describes as Tehran's "shopping list for materials related to weapons of mass destruction."
Missile accuracy appears to be a key Iranian goal. In one of Mr. Morgenthau's cases -- the prosecution of Chinese citizen Li Fang Wei and his LIMMT company for allegedly scamming Manhattan banks to slip past sanctions on Iran -- the DA uncovered a list that included 400 sophisticated gyroscopes and 600 accelerometers. These are critical for developing accurate long-range missiles. He also found that Iran was acquiring a rare metal called tantalum, "used in those roadside bombs that are being used against our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan." So much for the media notion that Iran has played no part in killing American GIs.
Mr. Morgenthau also noted that the material shipped by LIMMT "included 15,000 kilograms of a specialized aluminum alloy used almost exclusively in long-range missile production; 1,700 kilograms of graphite cylinders used for banned electrical discharge machines which are used in converting uranium; more than 30,000 kilograms of tungsten-copper plates; 200 pieces of tungsten-copper alloy hollow cylinders, all used for missiles; 19,000 kilograms of tungsten metal powder, and 24,500 kilograms of maraging steel rods . . . especially hardened steel suitable for long-range missiles."
Lest anyone think that these materials may have innocent uses, Mr. Morgenthau added that "we have consulted with top experts in the field from MIT and from private industry and from the CIA. . . . Frankly, some of the people we've consulted are shocked by the sophistication of the equipment they're buying."
Morgenthau recently laid out his case in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and its chairman, Senator John Kerry. The committee recently reported that Iran is making nuclear progress on all fronts, and could produce enough fissile material for a weapon in as little as six months.
Evidence uncovered by Mr. Morgenthau and his staff merely affirms what we've been saying for years. Developing a nuclear capability requires a three-pronged effort. Prospective nuclear powers not only need the bomb, but reliable delivery platforms and the intelligence to effectively target their weapons.
And, by all indications, Tehran is on track to reach its goals in these areas. Iran's fledgling space program (and ties with countries like Russia and China) will yield satellite imagery that will support the targeting process. Meanwhile, technology acquired through various front and dummy companies on four continents will result in more accurate missiles to deliver the weapons. In other words, when Iran acquires the bomb, it will also have the delivery systems and intelligence required to put that weapon on its intended target.
The Obama Administration's response? Let's give nuclear negotiations more time to work. As Mr. Morgenthau told the Senators, it's late in the Iranian nuclear game, and we don't have much time. Put another way, the time for talk is past.