March 24, 2011

According to a new U.N. report, Iran appears to be preparing to ramp up its production of enriched uranium. Russia's foreign minister also called recently for the resumption of talks on Iran's nuclear program in order to address continued international concerns about the country's nuclear ambitions.

These are just two of the latest developments in Iran's long and dangerous journey toward nuclear capabilities, a journey that began back in the 1950s, when Iran was under much different leadership and had the support of the U.S. and other Western nations. Today, with Iran headed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a man sworn to the destruction of the U.S. and Israel, this quest is cause for widespread alarm.

How did we get to a place where such an unstable and dangerous nation is perhaps only months away from nuclear capabilities? A new documentary — Iranium — seeks to answer that question, and an even more crucial one: Can we afford to let Iran go nuclear?

Iranium first lays out the past forty years of Iranian history, tracing changes in leadership and explaining the significance and influence of each ruler. The film also covers the relationship between these leaders and the West — particularly the U.S. and Israel — and discusses the huge role oil plays in attracting support for Iran from many key nations.

This information and commentary is provided by a veritable who's-who of experts on foreign affairs, Middle East politics, and international security, including former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs Dore Gold, and professor Bernard Lewis of Princeton University, who is considered one of the West's leading authorities on the history of Islam and the Middle East.

These experts argue that, when it comes to radical Islamic regimes like Iran's, the West suffers from a failure of imagination. The West simply can't conceive of a nation that wants to take over the planet by annihilating all who oppose it. So Western leaders are slow to act, and when they do act, they offer sanctions and seek peaceful solutions that might work if they were applied to Western democracies. But these tactics simply don't work for a nation whose leaders see suffering and even dying for their cause as the greatest possible achievement, one that ensures an honored place in heaven.

Iranium is sobering, to be sure. It's difficult to watch Iranian children brainwashed to hate the West, see massive crowds chanting, "Death to America!", and listen to the way some world leaders are depending on Israel to single-handedly take care of this threat.

But it is the nature of this situation that inspired the filmmakers to help Western viewers overcome that failure of imagination — and failure of action. And, thankfully, the producers of Iranium don't just leave us with this frightening wake-up call, but also offer on their website many positive action steps to take after seeing the film.

I strongly recommend Iranium to anyone who wants to fully understand the Iranian threat and Iran's role in spreading unrest and instability in the Middle East, and indeed throughout the world. Armed with the knowledge contained in this eye-opening film — and committed to continually praying to God for wisdom for our world leaders, protection for God's Holy Land, and the peace of Jerusalem — we will be able to face the Iranian threat soberly, intelligently, and with resolve.

With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein