STOPPING THE IRANIAN BOMB WON'T PREVENT THE NEED TO PREPARE FOR THE MASS PROLIFERATION AGE[ UPDATED II]
Iran is very much in the news after Seymour Hersh's assertion of preparations for a major American military strike
, perhaps a full scale war, to destroy Iran's overt "civilian
" and clandestine nuclear
. A number of experts
affairs second the general trend toward military conflict with Teheran, which for his part, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seems determined to provoke.
The conflict with Iran is a basic one the United States and the West will face again and again. Signatories to the NPT are allowed to import nuclear technology and expertise for "peaceful" uses under IAEA safeguards. Because technology and knowledge are fungible - and atomic bombs are 1945 technology and miniaturized warheads suitable for ballistic missiles are late 1950's to early 1960's technology - states can simply set up parallel programs and tear up the treaty when their clandestine programs are sufficiently advanced, having secured the means under false pretenses.
Iraq, Iran and North Korea were all caught red-handed but only one of the three was eventually disarmed. This situation is going to happen again regardless of the outcome with Teheran because approximately ten to twenty years ago a number of states - China, Pakistan, Russia, Germany and France elected to turn a blind eye to proliferation of nuclear weapons or in the case of Pakistan, actively encourage proliferation. This was a matter of policy or at best, corruption of policy.
There's only a number of steps that can be taken by the United States:Unilaterally demonstrate that Iraq was no anomaly and militarily devastate unfriendly states that try to acquire nukes - i.e. impose high potential costs on regimes having clandestine programs.Build a Core-wide consensus to rewrite the NPT as a treaty with teeth backed by a stringent, updated, version of COCOM.Bilaterally and multilaterally negotiate with rogue states piecemeal to buy them off for disarming completely( Libya Model).Revise military nuclear warfighting doctrine and embark upon a weapons-building program that renders nuclear missiles too dangerous to use against the United States, perhaps with an entirely new class of nuclear or high energy weapons.
The Bush administration and the EU have been pursuing options II. and III. with Iran but Iran has indicated that its leadership believes that possession of nuclear weapons are worth any price.
Option I. is a bad option for reasons laid out by John Robb, Thomas P.M. Barnett, James Fallows and numerous others but in the short term it may be the only option the Iranians decide to leave us.UPDATE:
Iran boasts of enrichment prowess, categorically defies UNSC
Interesting and vigorous debate in the comment section. To clarify my position:
A grand bargain with Iran that ends the nuke program is the best outcome but that is, in my view, highly unlikely that the current regime in Teheran would accept any terms. Secondly, the regime as constituted today isn't to be trusted with nuclear weapons so, barring a diplomatic breakthrough, we are headed for a serious conflict. Third - and I'm surprised my critics are studiously ignoring the main point of my post - this scenario will be repeated with other states unless the dynamics of nuclear proliferation are changed
. The technology is simply too available for misuse under the current IAEA regime.
PS -See new additions or changes in the links below.Iranian Bomb Links:American Future New !
PraktikeAustin BayComing AnarchyDNIThe Glittering EyeKobayashi MaruWinds of ChangeArmchair GeneralistKevin DrumRalph PetersWhirledview New !Arms and Influence New !John Robb New !