Posted by: reisendame | December 4, 2007

Wrong again?

Since 2003, the Iranian government has maintained that its nuclear program is merely for peaceful energy purposes, but the majority of U.S. leaders pretty much dismissed this claim. Bush placed Iran on the “axis of evil,” as he accused the nation of supporting terrorism. Since then, he and his cabinet have tried to convince the rest of America (with some success) that our Islamic foe is intent on building nuclear weapons.

Well, yesterday a U.S. intelligence report revealed that Iran’s nuclear development program was actually halted in 2003, though the country has continued to enrich uranium.

Israeli leaders (still perhaps reeling from Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s view that Israel should be “wiped off the map”) are not convinced by this assessment. They believe that the program may have resumed with the clear aim of constructing a nuclear warhead.

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The country’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, said that “we cannot allow ourselves to rest just because of an intelligence report from the other side of the earth, even if it is from our greatest friend.”

France, Britain, and the United States do agree that countries must continue pressuring Iran to halt any nuclear enrichment activity, despite the report.

This is a difficult situation to come to terms with, as the west has long been suspicious of Iran and its nuclear goals and terrorist ties. If this assessment is wrong, and Iran is building a bomb, then Israel should be worried– but so should the U.S., as we’ve certainly made an enemy of Iran and scorned any efforts towards reconciliation. If Iran really is only developing “peaceful energy” by means of enriched uranium, then the west will only look like fools when the truth comes out.

My biggest problem with this whole situation is the fact that laying an iron fist on Iran won’t solve the problem of nuclear proliferation at all. First of all, though the U.S. has disarmed a small number of its nukes, we are far from total disarmament.

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(Jimmy Carter with UN members of the Office of disarmament affairs, Cassandra on the left)

When Michael Cassandra of the UN visited my nuclear non-proliferation class last march, he disclosed the fact that the UN estimates that we have about 10,000 warheads. Russia is said to have 16,000. These are merely figures based on tracking plutonium– who knows the real numbers? The nuclear non-proliferation treaty has produced little progress, mainly because nations like ours and Russia won’t give up the nukes. If Iran did want one, it would probably be more for the sake of status than for actual use.

Nuclear bombs are essentially useless weapons, and most from countries all over the world agree. I find it difficult to imagine even the most extreme terrorists sending the world into nuclear winter– if someone were to strike us, we’d certainly strike back, and vice-versa. This isn’t 1945 anymore.

By the way, wasn’t it the United States military who accidentally transported six warheads across the country in September 2007? No country, big or small, can handle the responsibility of managing these very nearly apocalyptic weapons. I believe it’s only a matter of time until we find that out.

Read the New York Times article

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