Courtesy Reuters

Regime Change and Its Limits

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Although a third of the "axis of evil" is now occupied by U.S. forces, the other two thirds -- North Korea and Iran -- remain clear threats to U.S. interests. Consider North Korea: in February 2005, Pyongyang announced that it had nuclear weapons, and it is now thought to have several of them, or at least the material to build them. Over time, if the United States does nothing, North Korea's arsenal will surely grow, as will the amount of its fissile material. The results of this growth will be destabilizing and potentially disastrous: a sizable North Korean nuclear arsenal might well stimulate similar weapons programs in both Japan and South Korea, diminishing the region's stability. The repercussions could also spread far beyond Northeast Asia if Pyongyang decides to sell its new weapons or nuclear fuel for hard currency -- as it has with drugs and missile technology in the past.

Iran, for its part, also has a nuclear weapons program, which may not be as advanced as North Korea's but is much further along than almost anyone realized only a few years ago. Building on efforts that began under the shah, Iran has assembled many of the elements needed for a uranium-enrichment program with military potential. Magnifying Washington's concern, Iran has a history of concealing its nuclear program, as well as supporting terrorism and developing medium-range missiles.

Thus far, the Bush administration has consistently shown that it would rather resolve all of these challenges through

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