Author: Heritage Foundation

Iran’s Nuclear Program: What Is Known and Unknown

Iran’s hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad celebrated the anniversary of Iran’s 1979 revolution on February 11 by proclaiming that Iran is a “nuclear state.”[1] Iran’s radical Shia Islamist regime clearly sees its nuclear program as a means of bolstering its sagging legitimacy and popularity, while expanding its prestige and global influence. It also sees nuclear weapons as a potent equalizer that could deter external attack and ensure its own survival. Tehran has spurned aggressive diplomatic offers from the Obama Administration to resolve the outstanding nuclear issue, just as it spurned efforts by the Bush Administration and by Britain, France, and Germany. As Ahmadinejad said in 2007, Iran’s nuclear program is like a train “with no brakes and no reverse gear.”[2] Despite five U.N. Security Council resolutions and three rounds of U.N. sanctions, Iran’s nuclear train speeds onward. Iran has forged ahead on its nuclear program despite growing international pressure to comply with its nuclear safeguard agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Since the discovery of its secret uranium enrichment facility at Natanz in 2002, Tehran has failed to keep its repeated pledges to cooperate fully with the IAEA to demonstrate that it has not used its civilian nuclear program as a fig leaf to mask a nuclear weapons program. Tehran has refused to fully disclose its nuclear activities and to stop its uranium enrichment efforts, which can produce...

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China: Mr. Hu, Tear Down This Wall!

Over two thousand years ago, China began to build its Great Wall in order to keep nomadic tribes and marauding armies from crossing its borders. In the last few decades, China has built another protective barrier, a ‘Great Firewall,’ to keep socially disruptive web content from reaching its citizens. American companies have long acquiesced to this censorship charade in order to have access to China’s booming online market. Last week, Google changed its mind, shutting down its regulated site on the mainland and redirecting people to its uncensored Hong Kong portal. This laudable act of defiance indicates that China’s bustling marketplace is straining its authoritarian political regime. We expect the latter to yield. With a population of over 1.3 billion,[i] GDP growth of some 8.9% in 2009,[ii] and some $2.4 trillion in official reserves,[iii] China already is a major global force to be reckoned with. Having recently surpassed Japan as the world’s second largest economy and Germany as the world’s largest exporter, China is fast approaching superpower status. According to the Wall Street Journal, China already is home to more Internet users than any other country. This vast market promises to expand exponentially as wealth increases and education spreads. As of the fourth quarter of 2009, Google held some 36% of the search engine market in China, second only to the China-based Baidu Inc., with 58%. In 2004, Google...

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