Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Iran And The Bomb

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is set to release a report that supposedly will show that Iran is much farther along in their pursuit of an atomic weapon than previously believed. Add to that the noticeable increase in anti-Iranian rhetoric in the op-ed pages, rumors of a mock Israeli attack on a NATO base as part of training for a long-range bombing mission and last month's botched (and highly suspicious) assassination attempt by Iranian agents against the Saudi ambassador in Washington DC and you can see that the war drums are clearly starting to beat for Iran.

For their part, the official Iranian line is that they have no active nuclear weapons program. According to details from the IAEA report, this may be technically true. The “smoking gun” in the IAEA report is a claim that Iran has designed and perhaps tested an explosive (though non-nuclear) triggering device necessary for an atomic weapon to work. It seems then, while not actually trying to build a bomb per se, the Iranians are trying to design and build all the parts so that if at a point in the future they wanted a nuke, they could quickly pull one together.

You have to ask though, why wouldn't Iran try to build their own nuclear bomb? Let's look at some of the major foreign policy actions of the new millennium: the United States assembled a coalition in 2003 to invade Iraq and depose Saddam Hussein, while this year a US/NATO coalition used a proxy force of Libyan rebels to depose (and ultimately murder) Moammar Gadhafi. Meanwhile, Kim Jong-il continues to rule North Korea despite defying numerous sanctions from the United Nations and “international community” and after launching several outright military attacks against his South Korean neighbors; yet no one seriously talks about putting together a coalition to oust the Kim regime. What's the biggest difference between Kim, Hussein and Gadhafi? Kim has nukes, while the other two did not.

It's become clear that the best way to keep the international community out of your business is to set off a test nuclear device or two. Now look at Iran. They are almost completely surrounded by neighbors who host either large numbers of US troops, major American military installations or both: Afghanistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Iraq (though that one, at least, will change by year's end). And the Iranians remember, even if Americans do not, that the United States overthrew their democratically-chosen government in 1953 and reinstalled the Shah, whose brutal regime the US then helped to keep in power for the next 26 years. So, if your country is nearly surrounded by armed forces from the country who once overthrew your leader to install a regime more friendly to their interests – why wouldn't you take every step imaginable to protect yourself, including trying to make, or at least gain the knowledge to make, a nuclear weapon, when that device has proven to be the one thing that will stop this foreign power from meddling in your internal affairs?

Something to think about as the war drums beat.
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