By Representative Michele Bachmann
Last week I had the privilege of visiting our ally, Israel, and meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Prior to my arrival and while I was in Tel Aviv, more than 110 rockets were fired from Gaza by Islamic Jihad affiliates of Hamas terrorists. This barrage put more than one million Israelis in danger.
This recent outbreak of violence is a stark reminder of the impossible position that our closest ally in the Middle East is in because of the nuclear adventurism of Iran.
During my talk with Prime Minister Netanyahu, it was clear that the Israelis were grateful for the Iron Dome, the missile defense shield partially funded by the U.S. Because of successful deployment of the Iron Dome during the firefight from Gaza, no Israeli civilians were killed.
The Iron Dome prevented widespread destruction in Israel so that the Israelis didn't have to return fire on Gaza. I am proud that our nation's partnership in Iron Dome development and installation worked by saving lives and preventing the outbreak of war.
The fact that Israel had to use the Iron Dome reminds us of the perilous position they face. We must especially consider the constant threat they are under from their most hostile neighbor, Iran.
There is fresh evidence that Iran may be further along the path toward nuclear weapons than we previously thought.
We learned last week in the Atlantic Wire that it is highly likely that the Iranians have been conducting high-explosive tests with materials necessary for a nuclear weapon at their Parchin military site, southwest of Tehran.
There was enough concern that six world powers, including the Russians and the Chinese who have previously blocked efforts to contain Iran, called on Iran to give International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors "unfettered" access to Parchin.
Obama administration intelligence officials diverge from Israel's assessment that action must be taken immediately. This administration's officials recently argued that the Iranians have not decided yet to build a bomb.
Building A Bomb
They've taken this position despite credible evidence that indicates Iran has obtained the capacity to secretly develop its nuclear program that puts in place all the necessary pieces to build a bomb quickly if they so choose.
Such a nuclear breakout capability has been verified by a recent report from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) that focused on Iran's capabilities to obtain highly enriched uranium necessary for a nuclear weapon. The report bluntly concludes, "Iran is at the threshold of a nuclear weapons capability."
Unfortunately, stopping Iran's development of a nuclear weapon won't be as easy as were previous efforts of targeting Iraq's nuclear weapon. Iran has spread its program across multiple sites and is working on moving many of those sites underground. This would make them difficult, if not impossible, for Israel to destroy.
The decision to strike is also a difficult one because of Iran's influence in the region. Israel is a nation about the size of New Jersey surrounded by terrorist elements on the north and the south. Additionally, instability in Syria has inflamed other terrorist elements that could have profound effects on the security of Israel.
If Iran obtains a nuclear weapon, it would embolden terrorist groups under the influence of Iran to step up their acts of violence against Israel under the protection of a nuclear Iran. If Israel decides to strike Iran, it would also surely inflame those same groups to lash out against Israel in retaliation.
Neither of these scenarios paints a bright immediate future for Israel. Yet, it is clear that Israel and the world cannot allow Iran to become a nuclear power because of the threat it would pose. And the bigger question is what role the U.S. would play under the Obama administration.
Iran's obtaining a nuclear weapon threatens the safety, security and sovereignty of nations across the globe. Israel should not have to solve this problem alone.
Freedom-loving, peaceful nations should unite behind and immediately insist on tough economic sanctions. We must demand Iran cease enriching uranium, surrender all enriched uranium, shutter nuclear production facilities like Fordo and open all facilities like the one at Parchin to continuous, rigorous inspection.
As the AEI report demonstrates, Iran is at the threshold of nuclear capability. Peace-seeking world leaders can no longer afford Iran the luxury of time for nuclear development.
* Bachmann, a Republican, represents Minnesota's 6th congressional district.