I have heard political comments from otherwise intelligent people saying that it would be a good thing if Iran develops the capacity to produce nuclear weapons, as the International Atomic Energy Agency claims it is doing. It would, they argue, distribute power among nations with more parity and therefore more safely.
The concept of balance of power is part of the cold war philosophy that if two countries possess equally dreadful bombing capabilities, then a nuclear strike will be averted by the ever-present possibility of a comparable retaliatory strike against an initial attack. Mutually assured destruction, via cunning logic, is in fact mutually assured safety. This is why the classic movie Dr. Strangelove is subtitled ‘How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.’
I must reject this mentality. On the whole, the emergence of any new nuclear weapons is in itself bad, regardless of in whose possession it lies. Nuclear weapons are not just mere superiors to conventional weapons but the contraptions capable of delivering sheer extinction. One more nuke in the world is an intolerable increase in the odds that one of these devices contributes to the genocide of our species. One more nuke further stacks the odds against reason and peace and survival.
The acquisition of a nuke in the hands of a religiously-based dictatorship (in a state where elections are an avowed fraud) means we exist at the whims of a physically decrepit and mentally rotten Ayatollah. Iran is the only state in existence that employs absolute velayat-e faqih, where its citizens are the common property of unelected religious clerics. The now deceased Ayatollah Khomeni of Iran became the man of stature he became because, in 1970s, he extended ‘guardianship’ to all of society, making the Ayatollah and his quorum of religious thugs quite literally the parents of all Iranian citizens. ‘Guardian’ is a legal term impugning such people with the power of authority over the ward, or orphan, or in the absolute worst case, untenanted property. Iranian citizens, in the mandatory rallies held for their ‘supreme leader’, are forced to applaud smilingly the chain laid upon their wrists.
Their possession of a thermonuclear weapon means this principle of people-as-state-property is extended to everyone to who Iran’s Revolutionary Guards find offensive or those within striking distance of their nuclear program. The Iranian theocracy openly declares war on the Sunni dominated Gulf states that lie around the ‘Islamic Republic’.
Nuclear disarmament is the only viable option if humanity is to prolong its tenure as a species on earth. Throughout the entire cold war era, a great number of very principled individuals pressed their national statesmen and women to disarm nukes that were built and agree to a world order where non-proliferation is an organizing principle. Iran agreed to non-proliferation, signed the necessary treaties and then told the international community to go fuck its collective self shortly after the President admitted the country was a ‘nuclear state’.
Conceal the buildup of plutonium grade weapons, tell the world you are not building anything, accidentally admit you are, then embark on the most blackguarded repression of Iranian democracy (methods that Iran’s client state in Syria has inherited from its mentor state). These are the breaks in Iran.
Former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s best policy came in 1971 when he decided to denuclearize Canada after Lester Pearson had the US install plutonium enriched warheads on Canadian soil.
Others powers that previously had nuclear capabilities have been given no choice but to cooperate with disarmament initiatives. Col. Qaddafi of Libya turned over his nuclear arsenal to the US after the Iraq War; Israel is extremely opaque about its nuclear ambitions; Iraq can at least now be confirmed as not possessing any nuclear materials (anymore); and the international A.Q. Khan network was uncovered and dismantled after the invasion of Iraq—questions remain about Pakistan’s nuclear capacity.
We should commit ourselves to non-proliferation as a moral category and banish any notion that a nuclearized Iran will somehow counter US nuclear ambitions – it will only stoke and amplify them. The appearance of a nuclear weapon in Iran will intensify the punishment afflicting the Palestinian people locked in the West Bank and Gaza. In Gaza, Iran is the chief source of military funding for the military wing of the Palestinian leadership (the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and Iran is where the Brigades also train). In the West Bank, which bears some proximity to Lebanon, Hezbollah, the Shi’ite militants, funded in volumes by Iran and Syria, have openly waged war on the state Israel in support of the Palestinian cause (many Palestinians reject the theocratic tendencies of Hezbollah however). Bombs in Iran are not going to induce Israel, which has rejected or sabotaged every major peace negotiation with the Palestinians since 1947, into being the beacon of conciliation in the region now. In short, the only people who can call themselves benefactors of a nuclear Iran are the musky Ayatollah and his fanatical cadre of ‘guardians’ for whom a nuclear weapon will temporary sustain a theocracy that is sleepwalking to its eventual, and much anticipated demise.
For fear of political ties between Palestinian leadership and resistance, Israeli settlers and their government spokespeople will most certainly act towards them with the same mentality and violence that those at war feel about an internal threatening enemy among them. Palestinian liberation will irretrievably take a gigantic step back.