Dan Froomkin (emphasis added):
While Cheney’s language was not radically different from what he has used in the past, Stolberg writes that “people at the conference said that, placed in the context of Mr. Bush’s remarks, it represented a significant step toward increasing pressure on Iran. The speech seemed to lay the groundwork for the threat of military action — either because the administration actually intends to use force or because it wants to use the threat of force to prod Europe into action.”
Stolberg continues: “Mr. Bush has repeatedly said the administration would not ‘tolerate’ a nuclear-armed Iran. But during a news conference on Wednesday, the president went further, saying of Iran: ‘If you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.'”
Furthermore, Stolberg notes: “That distinction — having the knowledge to make a nuclear weapon, as opposed to actually having a weapon — is one the administration has not made in the past. David Makovsky, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute who moderated a panel discussion before and after Mr. Cheney’s speech, said the vice president also seemed to draw a new red line when, instead of saying it is ‘not acceptable’ for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, he said the world ‘will not allow’ it.
More to the point, the challenge to keep Iran “from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon” is prima facie absurd. The knowledge of how to make a nuclear weapon is in the public domain and has been so for over 50 years. It’s called “nuclear physics.”
But as an instrument for whipping up emotions among the ignorant and the hysterical, what a wonderful phrase!