Left: Map of Iran's missile capability courtesy of indepundit.com
(Manhattan, KS) President Bush, addressing students at Kansas State University, said that he believes Iran poses a "grace threat" to world peace, as well as this gem:
"The world cannot be put in a position where we can be blackmailed by a nuclear weapon."
I, too, am concerned about the buildup of nuclear arms in the Middle East and Central Asia. However, "the world" will not be blackmailed if Iran is able to develop nuclear weapons.
Tel Aviv, perhaps. Baghdad, certainly. But not the world.
While not as reckless as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's "wiping Israel off the map" comments, President Bush nonetheless engaged in rhetorical overstatement that is most likely designed to begin the process of building support for military action in the Middle East.
Iran lacks the means to deliver a long-range nuclear payload; its Shahab-3 missile has a maximum range of only 1,500 kilometers (about 931 miles). In addition, its tests with the Shahab-3 have been at best partially successful, and one test in 1998 resulted in a Shahab-3 exploding 100 seconds after liftoff.
Getting a weapon to a target is only half of the equation, however. While Iran will likely produce enough nuclear material for weapons within a year, it will likely be several years before they perfect the technological process to begin arming missiles.
Mr. President: while I share your concern for the proliferation of nuclear arms, I believe that your statement only increases tensions in an already-volatile region. Save the hyperbole for your golf game or the Super Bowl.