Iran is an oppressive theocracy posing as a democracy, it has harbored terrorists, it recently announced development of a missile capable of hitting Israel and American forces in the Middle East, and all of that makes two questions hugely important.
One is whether Iran is also developing nuclear weapons, and the other is what the United States should do if the worst suspicions are confirmed or if Iran won't cooperate with multilateral investigators.
Luckily, the United States is not in this alone. The European Union agrees there should be sanctions if Iran does not do what the International Atomic Energy Agency is now asking it to do: submit to unannounced, full-fledged inspections.
If Iran does not go along, diplomatic and political tools obviously should be employed prior to turning to any military option. But this much should be understood: A nuclear-armed Iran would be a serious threat to the United States.
President Bush should also continue to speak out on behalf of Iranian dissidents whose tolerance for ayatollah dictatorship grows less by the day.
It's true that the Iranian president and parliament are elected, but the Guardian Council of Muslim clerics chooses the candidates, and the powers of the president and parliament are limited. Clerics are in charge of the Iranian military and the judiciary, and this theocracy grants precious little freedom. If the dissidents should gain power and establish a true democracy, the Iranian threat would be vastly diminished.
Even if it should turn out there is no nuclear weapons program in Iran, America should be true enough to its own ideals to support the cause of freedom there, at least through encouraging words. Millions of human beings would live better lives if Iran became a true democracy, and the world would be a better place.