Monday, September 17, 2007

Nuclear Iran: How a tougher US stance could be speeding up nuclear proliferation

Since the Iraq war began in 2003 it has dominated headlines. But looming at Iraq’s border is the country of Iran and the threat of another Middle Eastern war. At the heart of the issue is Iran’s attempt to obtain a nuclear weapon. Tehran denies building weapons but has also refused UN demands to halt uranium enrichment ( photo of Iranian nuclear facility on left) .

According an article in the British newspaper The Observer, the U.S. will present a plan to stifle Iran’s nuclear weapons program by appearing before the U.N. Security Council. The U.S. wants a resolution condemning Iran for continuing its weapons program as well as increased sanctions. However Washington appears to have problems mustering support for its plans from other nations with diplomatic ties to Iran (Russian, Britain, and Germany).

The inability to halt Iran’s nuclear program have shifted favor in Washington away from negotiation and toward confrontation. A more hawkish stance against Iran will likely send a message to the Persian nation that a war is inevitable, forcing Iran to speed up rather than halt its nuclear program.

France is also taking a tougher, more confrontational stance against Iran. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner urged the world to prepare for a war with Iran. Kouchner said a nuclear Iran would be a threat to the whole world and, like the United States, it is seeking stricter sanctions on Iran through the UN Security Council.

Another reason for a tougher stance on Iran is the hope of stemming its growing influence in Iraq. General David Petraeus reported before the Senate that Iran’s export of weapons and fighters is the primary source of instability in Iraq. President Bush cites Iran as one of the leading factors for a US military presence in Iraq. According to Bush, Iran “would benefit from the chaos and would be encouraged in its efforts to gain nuclear weapons and dominate the region.”

Although Bush announced the withdrawal of soldiers as soon as conditions in Iraq improved he stated no plans of withdrawing the 130,000 troops that make up bulk of US forces in the country. The Pentagon also wants to build a base on the Iran-Iraq border to capture supplies of weapons flowing into Iraq.

A nuclear Iran could catapult the Middle East into a nuclear arms race according to Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center. Iran’s nuclear power would pressure other Middle Eastern nations who feel threatened by Iran, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, to build their own weapons. Israel could also go public with its nuclear armament in a show of force.

Adding to the fear of Iran’s weapons program are statements made by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (at right from photo on Middle East Online) that Iran would wipe Israel from the map. A nuclear deterrent in Iran could also embolden Hezbullah to increase attacks against Israel, said Daniel Brumberg, Iran and Middle East expert from Georgetown University.
Pentagon analysts say the US approach to so far have been to use psychological pressure and bluffing to control Iran. However President Bush approved Conplan 8022 in 2003. The plan calls for air strikes, including nuclear weapons, against strategic targets in states posing a nuclear threat such as North Korea and Iran.

For now a pre-emptive strike against Iran seems unlikely because US troops are tied down fighting an Iraqi insurgency and the war has become increasingly unpopular. But the Bush administration's pre-emptive strike policy has created a catch 22 situation. On one hand the US must take a tougher stance against Iran because its leaders continues to defy world demands for halting uranium enrichment. On other hand, Iran fears an imminent US invasion and feels compelled to build a weapon to act as a deterrent. The Bush administration could launch a strike if Iran continues to call its bluff.

By vowing to halt all Iranian nuclear develop, the Bush administration is making threats it cannot back up as was the case when North Korea detonated an atomic bomb against Washington’s wishes, according to Nathan Gonzalez an analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus. Instead the administration should announce that it will be committed to the nuclear defense of its Middle Eastern allies of Israel and Saudi Arabia, both legitimately concerned over Iran’s growing power. The US commitment will act as a deterrent to an Iranian attack on US allies as well as allowing the US and Iran to engage in talks to bring about stability in Iraq. Security experts predict Iran will not have the capabilities of building a nuclear warhead until 2015, enough time for a diplomatic solution to take root. However, Iran could speed up its nuclear program if threats persist. By assuming a less confrontational posture, the US will be able to engage in constructive negotiations with Iran to stabilize Iraq as well as buy more time needed to negotiate and end to Iran’s nuclear aspirations.

1 comment:

CSM said...

I think the threats against Iraq are quite prevalent in the Middle East. I liked how you approached the issue at hand in the same way a reported would . I believe that if the US gets involved with Iran's nuclear program, they will surely speed up the process. I believe that the US involvement in this issue will continue to grow. In terms of structural coherence, your paragraphs are well organized. You move from introducing the issue to growing concerns as time goes on.
I think your graphics are indicative of the issues at hand. However, they are too separated from each other. I like your title and the colors. The orange font is appropriate for your title. Your subtitle is extensive yet coherent as well.

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