“A World without nuclear weapons would be less stable and more dangerous for all of us” (Margaret Thatcher).
“It would be our policy to use nuclear weapons wherever we felt it necessary to protect our forces and achieve our objectives” (Robert McNamara).
Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States are all members of the Nuclear Weapon States.As with the Security Council of the United Nations, this is an exclusive club whose membership is jealously guarded; and any attempt to “gate crash” is met with resistance and threat of severe sanctions. However, because of unstated foreign policy goals, three other countries — India, Pakistan and Israel — were allowed to “join.” While North Korea has yet to publicly demonstrate its capability; membership for India and Pakistan were crucial in order to checkmate China and Russia and one another. And Israel came on board in the 1960s because of a growing fear of being driven to the sea by her neighbors.
In Africa, apartheid South Africa acquired and then willingly dismantled its program. In the Middle East, Algeria, Iraq, Libya and Iran is known to have actively south nuclear weapons from the Chinese, the Koreans and other sources. Of all the aforesaid countries, Iran seems to have gone further with her nuclear ambition and has become a torn on the side of the Western countries. Leading the pack of objectors is the United States — a country with more nuclear weapons and assortment of military means enough to incinerate the world three times over.
For a while now Tehran and Washington have been at it — puffing and huffing, exchanging threats and diplomatic double-talks, playing to the gallery, back-peddling and at the same currying favor and sympathy from the wider international community. For the Iranians, acquiring nuclear weapons is basically a matter of national survival, national prestige and balance-of-power in the Middle East; for the Americans, it is basically a need to (1) control membership of the club; (2) demonstrate her hegemonic tendencies; (3) sanction Tehran for being a member of the axis of evil; and (4) uphold Israel’s supremacy in that part of the world.
There are no compelling reasons as to why Iran should not acquire nuclear weapons. None! Some commentators have argued that Iran must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons because she is a rogue state with untold intentions; harbors terrorists and fundamentalists; and that her rulers are unstable and erratic. In addition, some policy wonks have opined that in such a volatile region as the Middle East, nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction should be forbidden at any cost in order to maintain stability.
Well, I don’t share that view. I don’t! Nuclear weapons in the hands of Tehran are no more dangerous than in the hands of Tel Aviv. If anything, Tel Aviv has caused more sorrow and long-term harm to that region than Tehran.
The United States controls the world through the Bretton Wood Institutions and through her military, cultural and educational institutions. And in the few areas where she is not in control, she has great influence. In recent years, no one — not even states, institutions, regimes or individuals — have been able to make America yield to world opinion. America will agree only to demands and suggestions that favor her interest. Take the Kiyoto Treaty, the invasion of Iraq, and her unwillingness to cooperate in international arms agreements, for instance. Did she listen to global opinion? America, for the most part, is the most incalcitrant (recalcitrant) nation; yet she is accusing Tehran of defying the will of the international community.
In thirty-five years or so the United States broke the will and or brought the vast majority of the states in the Middle East to order; nations that were once strong became shells of their former selves while others have become puppets or toothless tigers, even poodles. Consider recent events: Saddam Hussein was thrown overboard, Muammar Ghadafi capitulated, and the new strongman of Syria is afraid to go to bed with both eyes closed. The “last man standing” is the fellow in Tehran, along with his Ayatollahs.
If Iraq wants to go nuclear, she ought to be able to do so since every state has the right to safeguard her national interest. Nations have the right to military protection. No one is afraid that India will attack Pakistan, or that China will attack Russia. And why did the United States not attack the Soviet Union or vice versa during the Cold War? Every state knows the consequence of attacking another state with nuclear weapons. This fear and the unknown of the unknown have brought about balance in force and parity in violence. Now, does anyone think that the State of Israel would have attacked or be attacking the Palestinians and the Lebanon border (with impunity) if they were not weak militarily?
If Israel were to willfully attack Iran today, the international community, especially the United States, will not bat an eye. When Israel attacked Iraq because they suspected Saddam of furthering his nuclear ambition, they suffered no penalty; when they bulldozed homes, kill and maim the innocents, they suffered no sanctions. Tel Aviv can roam that part of the world and beyond and get away with it. And so it is that after all these years, the Iranians have come to the conclusion that they must be their own cause and can rely on no one if they are to survive and prosper in that region.
For a long while the US was not certain whether to isolate or to engage Iran. Or to “shock and awe” Tehran. Recently however, Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State announced that direct talks with Tehran were possible only if they would stop uranium enrichment. Tehran agreed but only if there are no preconditions. The Europeans have offered carrots, lots of carrots. But what if Iran went ahead in defiance of the US and her allies? Well, I think Iran will get away with it. There is nothing in the horizon which points to Iran putting a stop to their nuclear ambition. After all, this is a program that is more than 20 years in the making — dating to the Shah’s era.
Should the US bomb Iran, well, there would be grave repercussions at home and abroad. No one is sure that the US would be able to contain the commotion that is likely to follow. We have yet to complete the mission in Iraq; and we still have Lebanon, Syria, North Korea, Afghanistan and homegrown terrorists to deal with. And should Tel Aviv take on the mission, the implications would be graver and far-reaching. I see no condition under which the Iranian would truly give up their nuclear ambition (either for military or civilian use). America and her allies should turn a blind eye or simply allow Iran to continue with her program as there is nothing to fear from Tehran. In the end, Iran will simply behave like every other nuclear power: responsibly…and fearing retaliation for waywardness.