Who said “Iran must not have nuclear weapons?”

Middle-East-mapI’d be the first to agree that the world would be a safer place if Iran did not have nuclear weapons, that seems like a “no brainer” to me.  But I’d also be first to recognize that an Iranian might see my “no brainer” as easy to say, coming as I do from a country with a huge stockpile of nuclear weapons.

If I were an Israeli I could easily wish Iran would not develop a nuclear capability.  I don’t know that I could say that I didn’t understand, offensively and defensively, why it might be impelled to develop one.  My own country is “understood” to have nuclear weapons although it does not openly acknowledge that it does.  Whether it does or doesn’t, the fact that it is widely perceived to have them is surely a deterrent against attack from others.  Wouldn’t it still be a deterrent if Iran had nuclear weapons?  If both have them does it fate us (Israel) to a small-scale – but still large and costly –  war with Iran because neither of us wants to confront a nuclear war?

Aren’t nuclear weapons a deterrent to their own use?  As far as I know, there is no nuclear weapon use that can truly be precisely targeted.  Radiation persists, is caught up in wind and water and spreads as nature rather than nations would wish.  Despite some of the regimes that have nuclear weapons being among the least stable in our world, all I’ve been able to read suggests that they behave very responsibly about their weapons.

Once all the “responsible states” (especially those that already have nuclear weapons) begin to say that “Iran must not secure a nuclear weapons capability” are they not setting the stage, within Iran, for an absolute determination to get them?  Pick another powerful state that would respond differently to others telling it what it must and must not do!

Foreseen: “Unforeseen consequences” of US action against Syria…

If there is something to be expected from a military action against the Syrian regime, even one whose design appears to be so symbolic that only minimal direct damage to the regime will result, it is that there is an extreme range of “unforeseen consequences” that may result and one certain consequence.

While US action is being characterized as not aimed at “regime change” which is a shift after saying Assad had to “go” only a few months ago, clearly any military action is much more than a diplomatic “note” protesting the use of chemical weapons.  It increasingly appears to be a “slap on the hand” with minimal consequences to the regime other than the insult of being struck militarily and possibly set back until the physical damage done can be repaired.

Targets discussed have ranged from the chemical weapons storage facilities themselves (quickly seen to be an extremely bad option in which success could do more damage than the regime has been able to do on its own), “command and control” centers which would to an undetermined extent reduce the regime’s military capabilities, at least temporarily, or aircraft and artillery that could carry chemical payloads in the future.

What is foreseen:  Little is being said of the fact that, whatever messages of whatever “strength” are sent by acting on whatever targets are chosen, there is no chance that the Syrian regime (or its allies) will “take this lying down.”

We are putting the regime and its allies in our situation:  we are crossing a “red line” recognized more universally than any right to act against chemical weapon use by acting militarily against them, not in self-defense but without any provocation on their part against us or our allies.

The regime, with the covert and possibly overt support of its allies, will respond against this.  Nothing in its conduct to date suggests otherwise!  Assad is cornered and too deeply wounded not to strike out to defend himself.  His allies are likely to encourage him in this defense.  

What is unforeseen is which of the many actors including the Syrian regime but not limited to it will respond in which places, times and by which means.  Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan are places where the US is vulnerable to one or more of the regime’s allies.  Of course, the “homeland” could also be vulnerable to some “super 9/11” if the forces are in place for it (and you are more confident than I if you’ve read much lately to make you think we are really “connecting the dots” about terrorist attacks on the US).

Syria’s allies have their own reasons for wishing us ill, they do not have to act against our interests only on the basis of some “mutual defense” treaty; what a US military operation against Syria can provide is the reason for striking us “defensively” without initiating an unprovoked action against us.

 

Why shouldn’t Iran get the bomb…or why wouldn’t it…Am I the only one?

There is some reason to believe that our policies on nuclear agreements and proliferation of nuclear capabilities for energy and possibly warfare at some point, are recognizing the obvious, however sad the reality may be.

From the Wall Street Journal, January 25, 2012 (emphasis added):

“The Obama administration in 2009 signed a nuclear-cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates that bound the Arab country not to enrich uranium domestically or reprocess spent plutonium fuel, the two technologies that can be used to produce atomic weapons.

[USNUKE] Yonhap News Agency/European Pressphoto AgencyWorkers in Ulsan, South Korea, applaud the installation of the South Korean-built reactor core in July 2010.

President Barack Obama cited the U.A.E. agreement as the “gold standard” for future nuclear-cooperation pacts. Washington has used the deal to press Iran over its nuclear program, arguing that Tehran should follow the Emirates and rely on the international market for nuclear fuel.

U.S. officials involved in the policy review said the Obama administration concluded that most countries wouldn’t be willing to follow the U.A.E. model, and that insisting on it would hurt American interests.

They said Washington risked losing business for American companies seeking to build nuclear reactors overseas, and could greatly diminish its ability to influence the nonproliferation policies of developing countries.

I know why many countries in addition to the US don’t want Iran to get the bomb and see it as a threat to their security.  What I don’t know is how all these pronouncements about how it cannot be allowed to get the bomb have any meaning.

Absent going to war with it, a security-threatening step not taken when India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea and, much earlier, the Soviet Union, got the bomb and in part because all the named countries and the US have it, the argument for why Iran should not get it is far from obvious.

Iran, for better or worse, is the place where conclusions about what will adequately defend it from aggression or prepare it for pre-emptive war is to be made.  It may want it for the latter purpose: to wage aggressive war against its perceived enemies but it is far from clear to me why it shouldn’t prepare for its plans, aggressive or defensive, as it chooses, if the other nuclear powers have done so.

What possible activity, especially long-term activity, short of war (which, although the US seems at times to forget its own experience, is a “long-term activity”, extending beyond the engagement of troops), can stop Iran?  Agreements, inspections, and embargoes may delay the process or make it necessary for Iran to be more covert about how it secures atomic weapons but all are delaying tactics.

It looks to me like Iran will have nuclear weapons no matter what the rest of us want.  I suspect that even after “regime change” any new regime would feel obliged to continue the process of securing them, just to show it was independent and not subject to Israel and the West.

Don’t hesitate to explain where you think I misunderstand this issue.