It should be clear by now that Iran is on a collision course with the United States and other Western nations over its quest for nuclear weapons. Years of diplomatic engagement, proposed deals and three rounds of sanctions by the United Nations have failed to deter Iran from getting closer to acquiring the capacity to produce nukes.
Indeed, the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has grown more defiant. In the last few weeks, it has dropped all pretense of wanting to work with U.N. inspectors and Western nations, angrily refusing to comply with a U.N. demand to cease work on a nuclear-fuel enrichment plant and vowing to construct 10 more plants as soon as it can.
The latest bad news involves reports that Iran is getting closer to solving the most difficult aspects of making nuclear weapons. The Times of London reported that Iran appears to be working on a ``neutron initiator,'' a device that could trigger an explosion in a nuclear warhead. This means Iran is becoming self-sufficient in nuclear weapons technology and has no intention of putting an end to its clandestine weapons program.
Since the West can clearly not do business with this regime, it is time to get serious about sanctions. Earlier this week, the House of Representatives by an overwhelming margin (412-12) approved a measure that dramatically increases the economic pressure on Iran by curtailing its ability to import refined products, such as gasoline. Its key provision requires the president to impose sanctions on any company here or abroad that helps to supply Iran with refined petroleum.
Because Iran relies on imports for 40 percent of its refined petroleum, this would oblige the regime to consider the consequences of its continued defiance of the international community.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Miami Herald.