Derailing Iran’s Drive for Nukes

colson2To say that Iran poses a grave threat to world peace is an understatement. We know Iran sponsors terrorism—from fomenting chaos in Iraq to aiding Hamas’s attacks on Israel and Lebanon. Iran’s President Ahmadinejad is a fanatical Holocaust denier who has vowed to wipe Israel off the map and says he waits for the return of the Twelfth Imam—that is, the end times. Now he’s made it clear Iran is moving forward with its nuclear program—a prospect, in the light of these circumstances, that is terrifying. So how can Iran’s nuclear ambitions be derailed? What makes this problem especially difficult—besides the stakes, obviously—is that an American military attack on Iran would further destabilize the Middle East. Iran has promised to retaliate in the case of an attack, and no one doubts their capacity to do so—especially in places like Iraq, the Persian Gulf shipping lanes, and against Israel. What we need is meaningful pressure on Iran, like sanctions that really bite. Iran, whose economy is in bad shape, might be vulnerable to the kind of pressure created by sanctions. The resurging middle class is already restless. But there’s a problem: the U.N. is the only body that can impose such sanctions. And countries like China and Russia, each of whom has a veto on the Security Council, have made it clear they won’t allow these kinds of sanctions. So how do you get the impact of sanctions when you can’t impose them? Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has an idea: divestment, the same strategy used to put pressure on South Africa’s apartheid regime. Netanyahu starts by noting Iran’s economic vulnerability. As he told the Wall Street Journal, “Iran is in desperate need of new investments for its sagging oil industry,” whose production has gone down by 7 percent in each of the last three years. He also pointed to Iran’s 20 percent unemployment rate and the criticism directed at President Ahmadinejad for the failure of his economic policies. According to Netanyahu, only “several dozen companies” are “propping up” Iran’s economy. Should they cease doing business with Iran, its economy would be “[stopped] dead in its tracks.” So, how do people concerned about Iran’s nuclear ambitions get those companies to curtail their activities? By selling off the stock of those companies. This is known as divestment. There’s no better way of sending a message to these companies that their conduct is unacceptable. As Netanyahu said, “Divestment depresses stock prices and immediately forces reconsideration” of company policies. In turn, Iranian economic elites, and their middle class, would put pressure on the government to halt its nuclear program. As I said, Netanyahu’s idea is worth considering seriously. Missouri and Florida have already taken steps to divest state funds from companies that do business with Iran. California is considering the same thing. These are positive steps we ought to be encouraging. Check and see where your state’s funds are being invested, and put pressure on the state. Divestment helped rid the world of apartheid, a great evil. Its appeal—don’t do business with people propping up evil—was easy to understand and implement. There’s no doubting the threat posed by Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and its nuclear ambitions. The only question now is whether people of good will will do the right thing—and turn their backs on companies that do business with that murderous regime.  
Today's BreakPoint Offer
Donate to Prison Fellowship and BreakPoint to help us continue strong in the new fiscal year. Donate online or by calling 1-877-322-5527.  
For Further Reading and Information
James Taranto, “Dealing With Iran,” Wall Street Journal, 26 May 2007. “Iran Divestment Bill Passes,” Sacramento Bee, 6 June 2007. “Deterring Iran,” Washington Times, 11 June 2007. “Terror-Free Investing Gains Ground In U.S.,” CBS News, 26 March 2007. “Iran’s President Says Nuclear Work Nearing ‘Peak’,” Reuters, 24 May 2007. “Bush Pledges to Work With Allies on Iran Sanctions,” Associated Press, 24 May 2007. “Iran’s Nuclear Plans Are Advancing, Admits IAEA,” TimesOnline, 23 May 2007. “Rice Talks with Journal’s Editorial Board,” Wall Street Journal, 11 June 2007. “Iran Seeks to Spread ‘Thought of Ahmadinejad’,” Agence France-Presse, 10 June 2007. “UN Nuclear Watchdog Urges Breakthrough on Iran Standoff,” All Headline News, 12 June 2007. James Lewis, “Our Fleeting Chance to Stop Iran’s Nukes without War,” The American Thinker, 29 May 2007. Breakpoint Commentary No. 060814, “Preparing for the Mahdi: What’s Really Scary About Iran’s Nuclear Program.” Breakpoint Commentary No. 060512, “Why Iran Matters: Ahmadinejad and the Mahdi.” Breakpoint Commentary No. 060929, “It’s a Mad, Mad World: Deafening Silence.”


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary