Saturday, February 12, 2005

Why Iran Will Go Nuclear

Time Magazine:
North Korea has unexpectedly declared itself a nuclear state — although the fact that they have made the announcement verbally rather than through the more traditional route of actually testing a bomb leaves room for a measure of skepticism over just how nuclear they are. ...

Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld noted Thursday that "I don't think that anyone would characterize the leadership in that country as being restrained," which would suggest that if it does, in fact, have nuclear weapons and has repeatedly used blackmail and brinkmanship as instruments of foreign policy, then trying to slowly starve it to death may not the most rational course of action. And initiating a direct military confrontation remains almost unthinkable, not only because analysts estimate it could cost up to one million lives but also because the government of South Korea would be adamantly opposed.

North Korea's nuclear announcement certainly blindsided Washington, which had hoped to restart the six-party talks next month. U.S. attentions were elsewhere, most notably on stopping Iran from doing what North Korea claims to have done. Frankly, the administration's chances of stopping Iran from joining the expanding club of nuclear-armed states may not be much better than its prospects of holding back North Korea.

On her European tour this week Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice put forth the idea that Iran now faces a united front of the U.S. and Europe pressing for an end to its uranium enrichment activities. But Dr. Rice may be mistaking the general desire of the Europeans to mend fences with Washington, and their general dismay at the idea of Iran emerging as a nuclear state, as support for the Bush administration's approach to dealing with the problem. That would be wishful thinking, although hardly the first time the Bush administration had been guilty of such miscalculation over matters Middle Eastern. Rice's upbeat assessment requires ignoring the obvious signs that if the U.S. does pursue confrontation with Iran, it will almost certainly do so with even fewer allies than it had over Iraq. ...

The Europeans are pursuing negotiations, but also making clear — with increasing urgency — that diplomacy can't work unless the U.S. joins the process. But Dr. Rice repeatedly emphasized during her tour that Washington has no intention of joining the diplomatic effort, which is openly scorned by administration hawks.

Indeed, even as Rice touted diplomacy, she also gave plenty of hints that her administration prefers the option of regime-change in Iran — a position that effectively undermines the European negotiation position. That's because the basis of the diplomatic effort is not a "do as we say or else" ultimatum, but rather to convince the regime in Tehran that it faces no strategic threat to its survival, and can therefore manage fine without nukes and instead enjoy the fruits of reintegration into the international community.

By staying out of the process and indicating its preference for regime-change in Tehran, the Bush administration essentially dooms the negotiations to long-term failure, even if they stagger along for months or years. Diplomacy and the pursuit of regime-change simply cannot coexist in a single strategy for very long. The hawks are not unaware of this, of course, they simply believe it's naive to trust any agreement with the Iranians to refrain from doing a North Korea — and advocate diplomacy largely as an exercise in building support for tougher action. ...

Tehran is simply following the strategic logic that drove the proliferation of nuclear weapons over the past half-century: The Soviet Union saw acquiring nuclear weapons as a matter of survival because the U.S. had built and used them to decisively tip the balance in a conventional conflict. ...

Even if the U.S. did manage to win European support for a Security Council resolution holding Iran in violation of its non-proliferation obligations, there's little doubt that China — now heavily invested in Iran's energy resources — would veto any call for sanctions or any other punitive action. In light of the Iraq WMD debacle, imagining that the UN Security Council is likely to take up Washington's Iran case in a manner favored by the Bush administration is wishful thinking.

Either way, the failure of diplomacy would leave the Bush administration forced to choose between some form of military action and simply living with a nuclear-armed Iran. Dr. Rice was reportedly shocked to hear, at a meeting with French intellectuals in Paris, that European public opinion, and even many elected officials, may incline toward accepting a nuclear-armed Iran as inevitable. ...

The French foreign policy wonks with whom Rice met pointed out to her that they considered a nuclear-armed Pakistan a far greater danger than a nuclear-armed Iran — a point with which she demurred. That's unsurprising, given that despite the fact that Pakistan's own nuclear program has served as the world's secret nuclear supermarket and its military regime faces a substantial domestic challenge from radical Islamists of the Qaeda stripe, the country remains a U.S. ally.

The realpolitik that forced the world to accept India and Pakistan's nuclear arrival in 1998 will see likely see new nations accepted into the club, because the options for enforcing its exclusivity are seldom palatable. As long as nations have been prone to conflict with one another, each new military technology that altered a strategic balance has compelled rivals to match it as quickly as possible. ...

Countries without nuclear weapons, especially in the Middle East and Northeast Asia, may decide to seek them as it becomes clear that their neighbors and regional rivals already are doing so. The assistance of proliferators, including former private entrepreneurs such as the A.Q. Khan network, will reduce the time required for additional countries to develop nuclear weapons.

In other words, get used to it.
DoctorZin's thoughts: The author of this report assumes that Iran's nuclear intentions are defensive and ignores Iran's threatening statements of what it would do if it aquires nuclear weapons. Further, the author assumes the reason the EU3 negotiations are failing due to the lack of US involvement, while the failure in the negotiations is primarily due to Iran's absolute unwillingness to consider ending it's uranium enrichment program.

But more surprising is that while the author mentions the interest of the US administration on regime change in Iran, the author argues the options are either military or to accept the inevitable, a nuclear Iran.

The author ignores the clear signs that the US administration is seeking to support an internal regime change policy. The fact that the administration has been assisting the newly introduced Senate regime change legislation which is focused on supporting the people of Iran in overthrowing their own regime is entirely ignored.

Thank God he is not responsible for US policy.