What’s up with Iran’s nukes
Last week the new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) stated that Iran ceased its nuclear weapons program back in 2003 and, even though uranium enrichment resumed under President Ahmedinajad, it was without a weapons program.
The indications are that Bush was well aware of doubts about the Iranian nuclear weapons program as they were stirring up “World War III” concerns back in October. That such rhetoric came shortly before the November elections smells somewhat of political shenanigans. Even if Bush was aware that new intelligence had come in on the Iran nuclear issue and not of the detail, it was at best irresponsible to make his WW3 statements before checking out the new material. At worst he is guilty of risking the security of the United States for party political advantage.
President Bush now claims that, even though Iran ceased its nuclear weapons program in 2003, the threat remains and he was right to trumpet WW3 possibilities. So what is the Iranian threat we face, and how does it compare with threats faced by the United States in the past?
The United States was the first nuclear power. The first Soviet nuclear test in 1949 made the United States devise a way to cope with the threat and Dulles’s idea of “Massive Retaliation” and “Mutually Assured Destruction” (MAD) emerged. MAD relied on superpower understanding that any first strike would bring unacceptable destruction to both sides. MAD is still with us but has the added bite of the global economy, whereby physical destruction of any one player threatens massive economic turmoil that would severely affect all nations, as with 9/11.
So what if Ahmedinajad really does have a nuke? Would it really be in Iran’s interest to unleash or allow a nuclear strike on the United States, or any other country, for that matter? The military aspect of MAD threatens total annihilation for Iran should it attack the United States or Israel, for Iran could not possibly hope to destroy the United States or Israeli response capability.
There is also the economic aspect of MAD. Iran has massive investments overseas, including over $300 billion in Dubai alone. China and Russia have massive investment in the United States and Europe. If the United States and European markets are damaged, then Russia and China lose out significantly ” and so do the Mullahs in Iran and Chavez in Venezuela. All those countries rely on markets for their products and for their national economic viability. Add to that the fact that Putin, Chavez, Iranian Mullahs, Hu Jintao and other world leaders all like their luxuries ” including Hollywood movies, caviar, cars and iPods. Their burgeoning middle classes are also into luxury living.
But what about Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda? They do not respond to MAD in the same way. They are after power and money and have little to lose. They are truly scary recipients of nuclear weapons. No nation wants nuclear weapons in their hands and so we need to be working with Ahmedinajad, Musharraf and Chavez to ensure that such a scenario never comes about, not stirring things up for mere party political reasons. We need our leaders to be better than that.
Now there’s one other thing about the threat. In the days of the evil empire it wasn’t possession of nukes that was the issue, it was possession of delivery systems, with the range and accuracy to target us. Bush/Cheney rhetoric is all about nukes when the real issue is the capability to harm us. Even if the Mullahs are all mad, they do not have a system in place that can do us harm, other than delivering a nuclear weapon through a United States port by container ship or aircraft.
It might just be sensible to elect a president who spends less time invading countries for no sound reason and more thinking about how to improve port and airport security, and who believes in dialogue with world leaders rather than turning up the rhetoric. Improvements in global living standards will lead to greater peace and harmony, and that is what we should be working toward.
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