Feature

Iran: Letting the mullahs get the bomb

Are fears over allowing Iran to build a nuclear weapon unfounded?

The U.S. should let Iran build a nuclear weapon, said Kenneth Waltz in Foreign Affairs. In recent months, “a palpable sense of crisis” has loomed over the Western world, as Iran has continued to enrich uranium, and negotiations with the Islamic Republic reached another dead end. But let’s take a step back from our “unfounded fears”: Iran’s development of the bomb would pose no threat to Israel or other nations, and would actually “restore stability to the Middle East.” When the Soviet Union, China, India, and Pakistan went nuclear, Chicken Littles predicted Armageddon. But history shows that nuclear weapons actually make nations more secure and more responsible; in fact, there has never been a war between two nuclear-armed nations. Israel now has a nuclear monopoly in the Mideast, and power begs to be balanced. When it comes to nuclear weapons, “more could be better.”

“Ah, the contrarian,” said Adam Chandler in TabletMag.com. Waltz’s “no worries” argument is provocative, but it’s also naïve and dangerous. Iran has been an inveterate “sponsor of worldwide terrorism,” and has repeatedly attacked Americans and Israelis through terrorist groups in Gaza and Lebanon. The ayatollahs engaged in a horrific eight-year war with Iraq that resulted in a million deaths in the 1980s; in 2009 they slaughtered their own protesting citizens. Waltz insists that the Iranian regime “is not suicidal” and would therefore never use its bomb against Israel, said Robert G. Joseph and Keith B. Payne in NationalReview.com. But Iranian leaders have a long history of belligerent and risky behavior, and have repeatedly vowed to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Would you bet your life that the ultimate weapon would suddenly make Iran rational and responsible?

Iran wants a nuclear weapon for one major reason—self-preservation, said Justin Logan in NationalInterest.org. The ayatollahs saw the U.S. invade and occupy two nearby countries in the last decade, and know that having the bomb “makes invading Iran a totally different ball game.” It would change the game for Iran’s neighbors as well, said Abraham Foxman in JerusalemPost.com. The Arab Gulf states reasonably fear that a nuclear Iran will be emboldened to deploy its terrorist proxies to bully neighbors and “promote Shia interests over Sunni.” It’s “absurd on its face” to contend that an Iranian bomb would make the Mideast more stable, but I fear “we haven’t heard the last of this.”

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