Should Iran Develop a Nuclear Deterrent?
Iran is still one of the major concerns for US, EU and UN due its ambitious nuclear program. Teheran’s regime appears resolute in pursuing the nuclear power in order to improve and enhance its international status. All major international powers tried, in vain, to persuade the world on the danger of a nuclearized Iran. Israel and Netanyahu even went to the length of a ridiculous visual presentation of the bomb threat at UN. Teheran has always considered the achievement of a peaceful nuclear power as a right linked to its sovereignty, able to solve its energetic problems.
Nevertheless, western concerns that the civil program hide a military one to achieve a nuclear deterrent are not fantasy and find ground of demonstrations.
What are the reasons that pushed Teheran in this risky game with the international community? They can be summarized as follow: political, international and economical.
The Iranian nuclear program, contrary to what many think, has a root in history and can be traced to the late Shah Reza Pahlavi. In the 60’s the US signed contracts with Iran to start the development of reactors and achieve full operative power by year 2000. At the time the Shah was concerned by the future of oil industry and considered the necessity to develop an alternative energy source as a primary task. During the Shah power, the US did not consider the Iranian program as dangerous and even Kissinger recollect in 80’s that no one thought this could be an issue. When the Islamic Revolution in 1979 installed the Ayatollah, Khomeini declared the nuclear power as in contrast with Islam, and Iran in fact did not pursue the nuclear energy anymore as a primary goal.
This last at least until 2003-4, when two factors intervene in a decisive change of policy: the ascendance of a radical policy led by Ahmadinejad and the danger posed by the previous Bush administration and his “war on terror” that ultimately put Iran in the list of the countries sponsoring terrorism. Teheran, did not find a better situation with Obama, who consider Iran a possible target, meaning that the regime will require ultimately an enhancement of its defensive system. A conventional defence system, however, does not offer a secure protection against aggressions, and Teheran started to develop a program that can be capable to keep the US at large, and to this end two elements shift Teheran decisively toward the nuclear power: US activism and North Korea. The mighty American war machine did not stop in Iraq and, to greater alarm in Teheran, saw the West sponsoring the Arab Spring and revolts to topple dictators. The design to replace them with pro-western governments failed, if we look at Egypt and Libya, but on the other hand clearly weakened old enemies such in Libya and the same is now happening with Syria. The other element is North Korea: use the nuclear threats as a diplomatic weapon and, although questionable on an ethical point of view, it worked. North Korea continuously test and irritates the world powers with their missile launches or nuclear tests, leaving them with the doubt of whether a bomb could be there it is enough to guarantee the regime’s survival.
On an international level, Iran can count on a favorable conjuncture that see few countries ready to follow a suicidal mission in Iran, but especially can count on the Russian support. Iran become a valuable player in the international scenario, on which Russia sees a counterbalance to the aggressive American policy. Syria just represents how Russia and China will not tolerate another Libyan style adventure and any change of status quo can only happen by wish of the people and not by external meddling or intervention. Humanitarianism, that used to cover a new imperialist and neocolonial policy, seems to be an end and the West appears lost without this strategy.
On an economic level, Iran clearly consider the nuclear power a strategic sphere related to the future of oil industry. The Iranian oil industry clearly is the gold rush for the west, a new sort of Klondike, but a war will launch its price to the sky. The recent economic crisis that left many of the developed economies in trouble does not offer space for adventurism. Iran, on the other side, may need to develop alternative fonts of energy able to offer a diversification of its economy clearly dependent on oil.
Many accuse Iran to use the civil nuclear program to cover the real goal: build a nuclear bomb to destroy Israel. Even if that is not totally unfounded, it is clear that the real target are the US, as Teheran is trying to pursue a sort of North Korean style deterrent. The paradox is that this rush to weapons of mass destruction is not the result of ill pondered policies or regimes madness, is instead the result of a wrong policy by the US to consider themselves policemen of the world and apply the “two weight two measures policy”. Although cynical and irresponsible can be, states like North Korea and Iran know that only a powerful deterrent capable to attack US basis or their key allies will guarantee them survival and avoid the destiny of Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein.
In a world where nuclear bombs are detained by US, Russia, France, UK, China, India and Pakistan, nobody can really say that the above powers have shown reason and interest for the wellbeing of the world. Nevertheless, the equilibrium of terror, has avoided war between the superpowers during the Cold War, while India and Pakistan will think twice before starting a new conflict. In addition how to solve a problem like Israel? Why Israel, who is known to have the bomb, should be consider mature enough to be trusted when its reckless actions in Gaza show to the entire world how they act in total disregard for international law?
We may disagree with Teheran plans, but in a world where dreams and good intentions are only a way to go and sleep well in the night as good citizens, sometime harsh pieces of reality can bring stability in an area that could otherwise explode any minute.