Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Iran and Nuclear Proliferation

Richard Cohen's column in the Washington Post today presents an interesting discussion of why Iran might want nuclear weapons and what we might be able to do about it.

Iran isn't the favorite country of most Americans, including me. This stems from the hostage crisis of 1979-81, when the Iranians captured our Embassy and held our diplomats hostage for 444 days, and a quarter-century of Iranian Muslim insults directed at us since then. Iran deserves to be included in President Bush's "axis of evil," as far as I'm concerned.

Put all that aside for a moment. Why shouldn't Iran want nuclear weapons? Look at it from their point of view. They've been attacked in the past, and a lot of people still don't like them. I don't think they're concerned about countries like the U.S. and Britain attacking them with nuclear weapons. I'm sure they also understand that other nuclear powers that may be less trustworthy, such as France and Russia, are also highly unlikely to present a nuclear threat.

But what about other countries? Pakistan, India, Israel, and China are nuclear powers. Iraq probably would have had nukes in the future if we hadn't stopped them, and they still might get there in the future. Other Arab countries may go nuclear also, if they aren't strongly enough discouraged. Iranians are not Arabs and they are Shi'ites, which makes them less than loved in much of the Arab world. If Israel weren't there to focus wild-eyed Arab Muslim hatred, or if a peace arrangement of some sort makes Israel a less intense target, would the hate be turned on Iran? I can see how Iran might see real or potential threats all around them.Given the number of years and the investment required to produce and field deliverable nuclear weapons, I can also see how Iran might feel the need to do it now.

So what do we do? Understand the Iranian point of view. Then, in conjunction with other major countries, if they'll participate, offer Iran appropriate incentives not to pursue nuclear weapons, to include reasonable security guarantees. And finally, assure them publicly that if they persist, the U.S. will take out their nuclear facilities by force, unilaterally if necessary.

The approach to North Korea should be similar, with modifications necessary to account for their primitive, distorted culture. And the bottom line has to be the same: U.S. policy must be that we will not permit North Korea to continue developing nuclear weapons or to retain those they may now possess.

In a perfect world, no country would have nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction. But proliferation has to stop now. Some countries that aspire to be nuclear powers will always say, "Yeah, but (insert name of country) has them!" At the end of the discussion, all we can tell them is what Cohen says in his column: "That's the way it is, booby."

Once proliferation is under control, the U.S. can lead the world toward complete elimination of nuclear weapons, along with other weapons of mass destruction. But as they say, first things first.


Anonymous Custom-Papers.co.uk said...

Actually four nations besides the five recognized Nuclear Weapons States, none of which signed or ratified the NPT, have acquired, or are presumed to have acquired, nuclear weapons: India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel

10:56 AM, December 14, 2011  

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