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Jewish World Review March 9, 2004/ 16 Adar 5764

Richard Z. Chesnoff

Richard Z. Chesnoff
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Consumer Reports

Time to get serious
about Iran's nukes |
If you have any doubts that Iran's fundamentalist leaders are developing nuclear weapons, just ask Farah Diba Pahlavi, the former queen of that long-suffering nation. "These people support terrorism and are capable of anything. We know they are developing these weapons," she says.

Indeed, despite the Iranian mullahs' much flaunted promise to cooperate with international restrictions on nuclear proliferation, UN inspectors in Iran recently discovered undeclared designs for uranium centrifuge machines, key pieces of equipment in the production of bomb-grade material. What's more, Israel has reportedly broken the Iranian communications code used in buying nuclear know-how from Pakistan and elsewhere and passed the information on to Washington.

"The world once closed its eyes to the dangers [the mullahs] represent," says the widow of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, with whom she fled from the 1979 revolution that brought Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his clique to power.

With today's Iran a support center for international terrorism, she told me last week, "The world simply can't afford to do that again."

That thought and many more are contained in "An Enduring Love," Farah Diba's deeply moving and often amazingly candid memoir just published by Miramax Books.

Like most memoirs, Farah Diba's book glosses over - though it doesn't ignore - shortcomings, especially those of the final years of her husband's rule: the widespread corruption and the often brutal policies of Savak, Iran's secret police.

But she offers an energetic defense of the shah's accomplishments in propelling Iran from medieval poverty to modern industrial wealth, from ignorance to education and unprecedented rights for women.

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What's more, as she pointed out in our conversation, it was the shah himself who decided to flee in 1979 rather than unleash his army on those rioting against him: "He did not want to keep his throne at the expense of the blood of his people."

Her deep knowledge of Iran and the mullahs who now run it give added urgency to the warning she raises about the country's drive to acquire the ultimate weapons of mass destruction - nuclear bombs.

It might be easy for U.S. leaders to dismiss her as a inconsequential figure from the past, especially given our heavy commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as other challenges on the international front. Easy - and wrong. She has rung an alarm bell that we ignore at our peril.

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JWR contributor and veteran journalist Richard Z. Chesnoff is a senior correspondent at US News And World Report, a columnist at the NY Daily News and a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Demoracies. A two-time winner of the Overseas Press Club Award and a recipient of the National Press Club Award, he was formerly executive editor of Newsweek International. His latest book, recently updated, is Pack of Thieves: How Hitler & Europe Plundered the Jews and Committed the Greatest Theft in History. (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR. )

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