by Stephen Brown, FrontPAge Magazine

The decade-long attempt to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons may have entered the final round on Sunday when Iran announced to the world it intended to build ten new uranium enrichment sites. "This is really a statement of defiance," a former senior Israeli atomic official told The Wall Street Journal, "telling the world we are going to go ahead with our nuclear program."

The Iranian government's statement came only two days after the world's major powers condemned Iran's nuclear program, which, despite Iranian denials, is believed to be producing nuclear weapons. China and Russia joined the United States, France, Britain and Germany to support an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolution ordering Iran to stop construction on the uranium enrichment plant near Qom, a secret facility whose existence President Obama revealed last September.

Due to the international criticism, Iranians are now threatening to pull out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and reduce cooperation with the IAEA, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog. North Korea is the only other country ever to have pulled out of the treaty.

According to news reports, the Iranian decision to thumb their nose at the U.N. and world opinion and construct new nuclear fuel refinement facilities was made Sunday evening at a cabinet meeting chaired by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinijad. The Iranians will start work on five of the new sites within two months and at an unspecified future time on the remaining five.

It is believed the reason for the extra facilities is to allow Iran to build more nuclear bombs. One military analyst says U.N. weapons inspectors and the U.S. Department of Defense are of the opinion Iran currently has enough enriched fuel for one nuclear weapon. Iran would like to have several more in order to present itself as a "credible threat."

The Iranian announcement signals a defeat for President Obama's ‘soft' approach towards the Islamic Republic's leadership. In an interview with Dubai-based Al-Arabiya satellite television network last January, Obama said Iran's leaders would find the extended hand of diplomacy if they "unclenched" their fists.

"As I said in my inauguration speech, if countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us," Obama said.

But as early as March there were already signs that Iran was in no mood to unclench and drop the rock it was holding in the form of its nuclear weapons program. That month, President Obama released a video, wishing the Iranians a happy New Year, which, in Iran, falls on the first day of spring. In return for his friendly overture, the American president received from the Iranian government nothing but a demand for apologies for America's past transgressions, real or imagined, against Iran.

Sunday's statement simply proves what most have suspected all along: One cannot talk to the Iranian leaders and that they are simply stringing out negotiations to complete their nuclear arms program. And the fact the Iranians still celebrate the 1979 American embassy seizure every November, a flagrant and criminal breach of international law, shows they do not want to talk to the United States in particular and are still willing to flout international norms.

Essentially, Iran's leaders are religious fanatics who believe they have been chosen by God to establish a Shiite hegemony over the majority Sunni Islamic world and then, hopefully, over the whole planet. Of the world's one billion Muslims, about 220 million are minority Shiites, of whom the largest number, about 62 million, live in Iran. Pakistan contains the next largest community of Shiites at 33 million, while India is third with 30 million and Iraq fourth with 18 million.

Iran's mullah regime sees possessing nuclear weapons as instrumental to its plans for world domination. Nuclear arms would also add significant muscle to Iran's security in a part of the world where any sign of weakness or vulnerability could be dangerous. Iranians have not forgotten how Iraq took advantage of Iran's revolutionary turmoil to launch a devastating eight-year war against it in 1980. And like Russia with its former Eastern European satellites, Iran would also use nuclear weapons to intimidate weaker neighbors.

The Asia Times columnist, Spengler (a literary pseudonym), gives another reason why Iran is not afraid to seek confrontation over its nuclear weapons program. Iranian demographics have sunk to West German levels of about 1.6 children per woman, which would make waging a war in 20 years impossible. Iran currently has enough young men to embark on a military adventure, whether internally for nuclear weapons acquisition or externally against the Sunni world, while in twenty years it won't.

Iran's heavily-subsidized economy is also imploding. Like Argentina with its 1982 Falkland Islands' invasion and Germany in 1939, economically it is now or never for Iran to make a grab for the ring. In a year's time it may be too late, especially if oil prices drop dramatically again. Besides, again like Argentina, a military adventure would probably cause those Iranian people actively opposed to the regime to put aside their economic and political grievances and rally around the country's leadership in nationalistic pride.

But if Iran wants a fight, it will most likely get one. The Islamic regime's Holocaust-denying leadership has openly stated it wants to erase Israel from the map. Facing such a naked threat to their country's existence, one military publication states the Israelis are now openly discussing using a missile attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. While Israel's Jericho missiles can carry nuclear warheads, they also can be equipped with a conventional warhead. An attack by Israeli warplanes is also a possibility.

The Israelis already have American backing for such a strike if negotiations fail, as they appear to have. American Vice-President Joe Biden said in an ABC interview last July America would not prevent an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. And since the only other option would be a nuclear-armed Iran, the Israelis will now likely ensure this last round ends in a knockout.