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Putting The Shoe On The Other Foot

10/8/03 By Kam Zarrabi

Professor Mohammad Sahimi's three part series on Iran's nuclear program was well articulated, clear and concise. He is to be congratulated for his contribution to the understanding of what he has termed "The Emerging Crisis". Dr. Sahimi has made a successful effort to remain scientifically objective, technically correct, and politically impartial throughout. By doing so, however, some aspects of this highly volatile international issue have been deliberately, but wisely, overlooked.

If we were to pluck Iran out of the Middle East and plant it somewhere in the South Pacific, the analogy between South Africa's decision to disband its nuclear arsenal, and Iran's possible aspirations to acquire the same, would be meaningful.

Acquisition of nuclear weapons by countries that can afford it is motivated by various concerns. In the very beginning, nuclear weapons were thought to be the ultimate means of military supremacy and global dominance. But once this monopoly was broken, the defensive role of the ultimate weapon as a deterrent was quickly established. In the bi-polar world of the Cold War, the United States, Great Britain and France, represented the Western World's answer to the Soviet Union's nuclear arsenal, creating a détente through assured mutual destruction.

Now, of course, in addition to the members of the old nuclear club, we have China, India, and Pakistan who, for arguably reasonable excuses, have developed their nuclear arms capabilities. Israel, also for its own security reasons, has become a nuclear power.

Another reason for the acquisition of nuclear weapons might be the prestige of being able to have the capability, even if there appears no defensive purpose for it. This was the case with South Africa. Swaziland, Botswana, Zambia or Madagascar were not nuclear armed and battle-ready countries threatening an invasion of South Africa to "liberate" the population or to democratize the apartheid regime.

Iran, on the other hand, has been and continues to be under attack by enemies near and far. Iran is circled by potentially aggressive regimes that view its brand of Islamic government unsuitable, even detrimental, to their respective establishments. Even though the hostile Iraqi regime is now dismantled, a much more vocally antagonistic and potent foe has established its stronghold there, as well as on its other flank, in Afghanistan. Israel continues to threaten Iran with preemptive strikes against its nuclear facilities to secure its own defensive posture and military supremacy.

Let's consider Israel's historic paranoia and siege mentality justifiable, and its insistence on remaining the region's unchallenged superpower a legitimate pursuit. Now let's look at Iran's legitimate concerns.

I share Professor Sahimi's views almost verbatim. But, accepting all the politically motivated or pressured demands of IAEA, legitimate, as well as excessive, and opening all the doors to intrusive inspections, might lead to some rather unpleasant consequences.

America's invasion of Iraq, as I have written before, and been vindicated since, had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction or international terrorism. That invasion was part of a much larger scenario that was finally put into motion after September 11, 2001. Iraq was invaded simply because it could be without any risk of facing its alleged weapons of mass destruction.

From Iran's perspective, it remains in the crosshairs for the opportune time, either before Syria or after, as the international saber rattling continues. Iran insists that its nuclear programs are tailored for peaceful purposes. But, while the international jury is still out on the 'Axis of Evil' and the 'Number One State Sponsor of Terrorism' foot-in-mouth pronouncements from Washington and Tel Aviv, It might serve Iran's best interests to leave some smidgeon of doubt as to whether its nuclear programs are all intended for peaceful purposes.

Look at North Korea with much less to worry about than does Iran!

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