Nuclear Proliferation – Are we heading for war?

Nuclear Proliferation – Are we heading for war?

By Dr. Habib Siddiqui

It is no secret that the Bush Administration is against Iran. Thus , when in early July Iran test fired long- and medium-range missiles[1] the corporate media echoed the sentiment as if Iran had done something awfully bad, highly provocative. Forgotten from the coverage was Israel’s own provocative testing and military exercise a few weeks earlier in June, let alone her incessant threat to attacking Iran for the past six months![2]

Much has also been said about nuclear proliferation, especially its impact on potentially changing the so-called balance of power in the Middle East. Behind the façade of all such tough talks about America’s declared objective to stop Iran from getting the nuclear technology what worries many area experts is that Bush Administration is after regime change in Iran. That is why soon after the recently concluded face-to-face meeting between the Iranian representative and his counterpart from the Bush Administration, Secretary Rice warned that U.S., European and United Nations Security Council sanctions on Iran’s energy and banking sectors would be tightened if Iran did not agree to stop expanding its production of enriched uranium.[3]

Not to be forgotten in this context are two Op/Ed columns that appeared in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal in the last few days proposing that Israel should attack Iran and that that the Bush Administration should consider what cooperation the U.S. would extend to Israel before, during, and after a strike on Iran. To these proponents of war, the Israeli pre-emptive attack against Iran would be an act of self-defense and justifiable since by striking first, Israel would avoid the prospect of a future nuclear exchange with Iran. What a psychopathic justification! Never mind that time and again Iran’s leadership, including its supreme leader Ayatullah Khamenie, has categorically maintained that Iran is not developing nuclear bomb and that her program is peaceful. The Iranian leadership has also stated that nuclear weapons technology violates Islamic principles, something that the regime upholds very religiously. Even a declassified report released on December 3, 2007 by the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) -“Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities” – concluded with “high confidence” that Iran had halted its military nuclear activities in fall 2003.[4]

        Lest we forget Iran is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) while Israel is not. The IAEA, the nuclear watchdog, has validated that Iran is not working towards development of a nuclear bomb. So, why all this fuss about Iran’s nuclear program? American and Israeli insistence that Iran’s true intention is to produce nuclear weapon is simply too arrogant, ludicrous and untenable of a claim that cannot be substantiated.

The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing nuclear technology, is believed to have increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack. [5] Such activities are nothing short of a campaign of “coercion” aimed at Iran. Unfortunately, they also reinforce the belief inside Iran that the only way to defend the country is to have a nuclear capability.

Even if Iran or any of the Middle Eastern countries were to develop a nuclear bomb why should these countries be castigated knowing very well that Israel has some 150 to 200 nuclear bombs?[6] Did not national security concerns, especially threat from formidable foes, force other nations to go nuclear? Israel has been at war with all her neighbors and is far more likely than any other member of the nuclear club to actually use nukes.[7]  Given Israel’s history of starting wars against her neighbors,[8] the genocidal mindset of her leadership, and her passionate embrace of the doctrine of preemptive strike against potential foes, all the Muslim nations in the region are afraid of Israel’s sole ownership of such bombs that could obliterate their very existence.[9]

If the Muslim nations in the region are to forsake the very idea of acquisition of nuclear weapons, they must have alternative sources of security: either a binding alliance with a nuclear armed ally or a credible international guarantee.[10] But to them, the USA and her European allies have forfeited that privilege because of the latter’s blind support for Israel. As a matter of fact through their military aid, let alone unquestioned acceptance of Israeli version of history and rationale for murderous acts, the Holocaust guilt-ridden European Union and Israel’s “Amen Corner”-run USA have proven to be morally bankrupt and absolutely unreliable as honest brokers for peace and regional stability.[11]

The development, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapon are considered forbidden in Islam. And yet the temptation to possess this deadly weapon as a deterrent is ever high. It was the same raison d’etre, in the face of Indian nuclear threat, that pushed Pakistan to develop the bomb. As proven by record, in the last six decades, especially during the Cold War period, in spite of all the tensions, the USSR and the USA - the two heavily armed nuclear nations – haven’t fought a single war directly, although they did use proxies to fight their dirty wars using conventional weapons. India and Pakistan have not fought a single war either since their possession of this deadly weapon.

While America and her European allies often claim that they are for nuclear non-proliferation, what they have pr oven thus far is that they are against proliferation only when it comes to Muslim nations.[12] Truly, America’s own record on nuclear proliferation is tainted by the fact that it assisted the Great Britain and France to develop nuclear weapons. As Dr. Brze zinski and other experts noted, the USA winked, actually more than winked at Israel’s; she acquiesced to China’s, India’s and Pakistan’s; and she has been promiscuously unvigilant about its own nuclear secrets. The inclusion of North Korea in the Bush’s “axis of evil” is widely interpreted as a deliberate attempt to obscure one-sided American preoccupation with proliferation among the Muslim nations in the Middle East.

What is so grotesque about America’s allergic reaction to Iran’s legitimate aspiration for nuclear energy is that it was President Ford who signed a directive in 1976 offering Tehran the chance to buy and operate a U.S.-built reprocessing facility for extracting plutonium from nuclear reactor fuel. The deal was for a complete “nuclear fuel cycle”—reactors powered by and regenerating fissile materials on a self-sustaining basis.[13] That history is deliberately obscured today from major Bush administration speeches, public statements and news conferences on Iran.

Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has been relentlessly warning that there is no real evidence to support the war-fueling allegations against Iran. Are we going to believe him or Bush, who lied about Iraq’s WMD program?[14]

If the major powers are serious, there are practical ways to mitigate and probably end nuclear crisis in the Middle East. The first is to disarm Israel of her nuclear weapons that would be a sufficient motivation for Iran (or any other neighboring nation) to never think about developing nuclear weapon as a deterrent. A second step would be for the USA, UK and Israel to join the rest of the world in accepting a verifiable Fissban treaty. A third step would be to have Israel sign the NPT, much like Iran, and have her sites monitored by the UN agency. A fourth step would be to empower IAEA so that it can do its monitoring task on nuclear activities everywhere more effectively without being unduly influenced by the nuclear club. Are they willing to take these measures?

The best global solution to the menace of nuclear bomb, however, is to have a nuclear weapon-free world where no single country could remain or ever become an existential threat to another. This would be consistent with Article six of the NPT, which obligates the nuclear states to take “good-faith” efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons, a binding legal obligation, as the world court determined. Unfortunately, that is too much to demand o f the current nuclear club, each reluctant to relinquish their prized possession. The best alternative is, therefore, to declare a nuclear weapon-free Middle East, something in the image of South American states. This is especially critical in the light of importance of oil and gas in our daily lives. All the Arab countries, including Iran, have endorsed this idea, except Israel. She is opposed to this idea and wants to keep hers while insisting that no other Muslim country possess this deadly weapon. She has not allowed any inspection of her nuclear sites either. There lies the heart of the problem with regional insecurity. Sadly, while many concerned citizens of the world are genuinely troubled by such an imbalance of power in the region, America and her European allies are nonchalant to Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons. This attitude of western powers is simply hypocritical and immoral. The sad fact is without America’s concerted pressure Israel won’t change her Mafiosi attitude on this matter of global importance. Is American leadership ready for that challenge?

As to the widely propagated notion of a suicidal Iran detonating its very first nuclear weapon against Israel, that is more the product of paranoia or demagogy than of serious strategic calculus. Such an obsessed notion cannot be the basis for U.S. policy in that region.

About Iran’s nuclear program, above all, it is important to heed the words of Mohamed ElBaradei: “There is no military solution to this situation. It is inconceivable. The only durable solution is a negotiated solution.”[15] And it is within our reach, if America and her allies are serious about it.

July 24, 2008


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[1] Iran’s state-run television reported that the government had tested nine long- and medium-range missiles, including a new version of the Shahab-3 missile that has a range of 1,250 miles and is armed with a 1-ton conventional warhead. A missile with that range could strike Israel, Turkey, the Arabian peninsula, Afghanistan or Pakistan.
[2] http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/01/13/world/main3705563.shtml
[3] http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-iran22-2008jul22,0,2585895.story
[4] http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/features/behind-irans-nuclear-weapons-halt
[5] See, e.g., Seymour Hersh’s article in the New Yorker, April 17, 2006: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/07/07/080707fa_fact_hersh
[6] See President Carter’s remark about Israel’s nuclear bombs: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7420573.stm Most .estimates, many based on evidence leaked in 1986 by Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu, put the number of Israeli nuclear weapons at between 100 and 200. But other experts have said20the number is as low as 60 or as high as 400. (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,358152,00.html)
[7] Some 72 percent of Israelis support the use of nuclear weapons in certain circumstances, according to the results of a Canadian=2 0survey released Monday, Army Radio. Oct. 1, 2007: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/908725.html
[8] http://www.wrmea.com/backissues/0794/9407073.htm
[9] See Benny Morris’s interview suggesting that Israel should attack Iran before the end of Bush’s term: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-bromwich/benny-morris-justifies-is_b_113725.html By Mo.rris’s logic the attack by Israel will be an act of self-defense. No evidence for his intuition is ever offered—evidence from (say) the history of Iranian foreign policy over the past fifty years, or 200; evidence founded on actions rather than words.
[10] This is a valid suggestion made by Dr. Brzezinski in his book – The Choice.
[11] See Justin Raymondo’s article “A Brazen Evil”, July 21, 2008: http://antiwar.com/justin/ for an excellent analysis of Benny Morris’s N.Y. Times Op/Ed that argues for Israel’s genocidal attack on Iran.
[12] For instance, the Presidential hopeful Senator Obama in a TV ad says that the greatest threat to American national security is proliferation of nuclear weapons to the hands of terrorists (with pictures of Afghans shown in the background).
[13] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A3983-2005Mar26.html The U..S.-Iran deal was shelved when the shah was toppled in the 1979 revolution.
[14] For an interesting article on IAEA, see http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/12/04/elbaradei/
[15] http://www.chomsky.info/articles/20060623.htm


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