INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY
Middle East: What a weekend in Iran. A nuclear plant was opened Saturday in Arak, and the military test-fired a new submarine-to-surface missile on Sunday. The naked provocations continue apace.
Last week it was an Iranian warship firing on a Romanian oil rig off Iran. Iranian troops from the ship later boarded and occupied the rig, took over the radio room and likely terrorized the platform's 26 workers.
Such belligerence isn't new for Tehran. It was clearly behind the recent Hezbollah clash with Israel. Aggression is also part of the recently launched military exercises, which provide a five-week stage for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to preen before the world and for Iran's armed forces to project their power.
Then there's the provocative act of denying United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors access to an underground site earlier this month.
That came as Tehran has refused for more than a year to give up its nuclear ambitions, despite international pressure and repeated demands that it halt its uranium enrichment program.
These are not the actions of a government seeking peace. The Iranian regime's actions have all the marks of a nation itching for a fight. It's now habitually and consistently rattling a nuclear-tipped saber, confident that a timid world will do nothing beyond talk to actually stop the menace.
Well, timid only in its duty to beat down clear threats before they get too far along. There would be no timidity in the criticism should the U.S. or Israel take it upon themselves — as one or both will likely have to do — to use force to weaken Tehran's ability to bully the region and make trouble for the world.
Iran continues to insist its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, but Saturday's opening of a plant that produces heavy water shows what we've known all along:
It is a less-than-honest account of the regime's intentions.
There is no nuclear reactor at the Arak plant southwest of Tehran — as far as we know — and there won't be until 2009, if the regime is to be believed.
But the heavy-water factory is a step in a dangerous direction. Heavy-water reactors are typically far more efficient at producing weapons-grade plutonium than light-water reactors.
Most reactors used to generate electricity are of the light-water variety. This is an ominous development.
Another deadline for Iran to shut down its uranium enrichment program, this one set by the U.N. Security Council, will arrive Thursday. If history serves as any guide, Tehran will blow right through it as it has all the others — and the U.N. will be inclined to issue its usual nonresponse response.
John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., has the task of making sure this latest deadline is different from those that have gone before. In other words, deadlines need to mean something.
If he can't get that done in the U.N., then pressure must be exerted promptly by an alliance of nations that understand the Iranian threat.
Iran has been at war with America and the rest of the West since the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was overrun in 1979 by a gang of ayatollah-backed radicals.
Any civilized nation would be fully justified in ignoring world opinion and doing whatever is needed to remove such a threat.