Iran and the nuclear proliferation problem

War hawks in Israel, France and the U.S. Congress say there can be no peace with Iran unless that country gives up the possibility of developing nuclear weapons.

The Ayatollah Khamenei has said that use of nuclear weapons is contrary to Islam, but there are subtle, but important differences, between using nuclear weapons, having nuclear weapons and having the capacity to someday develop nuclear weapons.

iran.sanctionsAll the countries that have nuclear weapons today, except Israel, developed them because they feared being attacked by another country with nuclear weapons.  This includes the United States.  The Manhattan Project was begin because U.S. leaders and scientists feared that Nazi Germany would develop nuclear weapons first.  And the government of Israel in its early days had a realistic fear of being destroyed by invasion by its Arab neighbors.

The Iranian government was one of the original signers of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, on July 1, 1968.   All signers of the treaty except the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China renounced nuclear weapons, the five nuclear powers agreed to gradually reduce and then eliminate nuclear weapons, and they promised to share nuclear energy technology with the non-nuclear countries.  In all, 189 countries ratified the treaty, but India, Pakistan and Israel did not, and North Korea withdrew from the treaty.

It would be unfortunate if Iran, or any other additional country, acquired nuclear weapons, but I think the only way to avoid this is for the existing nuclear powers to abide by the intent of the treaty.   I don’t think the United States is in a position to say that it is all right for nations of which our government approves can have nuclear weapons, and the ones it disapproves cannot.  The Iranian government has the same treaty rights under the ayatollahs as it did under the Shah.

Look at things from the standpoint of Iranian leaders.  Journalists and politicians in the United States and Israel are constantly talking about whether to attack Iran.  I don’t think the U.S. government really would attack; I’m not sure about Israel.  Iran is hemmed in by other nuclear powers as well—Russia, China, India and Pakistan.

It is hypocrisy for the governments of the United States, Israel and France, all of which have nuclear weapons themselves, to say that world peace is threatened by the possibility of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

And, as Pepe Escobar points out in Asia Times, it is especially hypocritical of France, which generates virtually all of its electricity from nuclear power plants and is actively selling nuclear energy technology to the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia, to ask Iran to forego development of nuclear energy.  The oil of the Middle East is not going to last forever.

Since World War Two, Iran has not invaded, attacked or bombed any other nation.  This cannot be said of the United States, Israel or France.   Continued sanctions against Iran help Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states in the balance of military and political power in the Middle East.   They do not help the United States.   The U.S. government and the European Union should temporarily ease or suspend sanctions to encourage the peace process.


Iran’s Plutonium Game by Jeremy Bernstein for the New York Review of Books.

Iran slows expansion of nuclear program by Julian Borger for The Guardian

France Clueless on Iran by Pepe Escobar for Asia Times.

Why France Is Playing ‘Stupid’ on Iran by Pepe Escobar for Asia Times.

Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons from Wikipedia.

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