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Iran is not an irrational actor: rational reasons for it to go nuclear

Think Again: A Nuclear Iran Why it won’t be the end of the world if the mullahs get the bomb. Foreign Policy BY ALIREZA NADER | MAY 28, 2013“Iran is an irrational actor” Wrong. It’s as clear as day that the Islamic Republic pursues goals in the Middle East that put it on a collision course with the United States. Iran is opposed to Israel as a Jewish state, for instance, and competes for regional influence with the conservative Gulf Arab monarchies. But that doesn’t mean it is irrational: On the contrary, its top leadership, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is deliberative and calculating. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s antics and often wild rhetoric shouldn’t obscure the fact that the Islamic Republic is interested in its own survival above all else. When contemplating the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran, we should all be grateful that notions of martyrdom and apocalyptic beliefs don’t have a significant pull on Iranian decision-making.

Iran’s possible pursuit of nuclear weapons capability is motivated by deterrence, not some messianic effort to bring about the end times…… Nukes could provide the ultimate deterrent for an insecure regime. And Iran has a lot to be insecure about: It is a Shia and Persian-majority theocracy surrounded by hostile Sunni Arabs, which has recently watched the United States overrun unfriendly regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq with relative ease. The regime perceives both conflicts as having damaged U.S. credibility and power — but knows this is no guarantee it can protect itself in a future conflict against the vastly superior American military without a nuclear bomb.

As dangerous as it is, Iran’s possible pursuit of nuclear weapons makes logical sense. And it isn’t an effort that is unique to the Islamic Republic: Any Iranian political system, whether imperial, theocratic, or democratic, would at least consider a nuclear weapons capability. Although a nuclear-armed Iran would be a dangerous development, a closer look demonstrates that it could well be a containable challenge for the United States and its allies…..

“Iran would nuke Israel”

No way. Khamenei may describe Israel as a “cancer that must be removed,” but he doesn’t wake up every morning thinking of destroying Israel. The Islamic Republic’s hatred for Israel is real, but its policies toward Israel are more pragmatic than often assumed…..  the Iranian regime is not fanatical in its perceptions of Israel. For example, Tehran has hesitated to attack Israel with its own missiles, as it fears the Israeli reaction. Any Iranian nuclear attack against Israel would certainly mean massive Israeli and U.S. retaliation, and the regime’s destruction.

From Khamenei’s point of view, Israel’s existence is a much better alternative than a nuclear war resulting in mutual destruction. …….. “Nuclear weapons would embolden Iran”

Not quite. A common fear of a nuclear Iran is not that it would use nukes directly against rivals such as Saudi Arabia, but that it would become more aggressive in undermining conservative Arab regimes. A nuclear-armed Iran, for example, might feel more secure in impeding shipping through the Strait of Hormuz or stoking unrest in the Persian Gulf.

In reality, however, a nuclear bomb would not be of much use to Iranian efforts to spread its influence across the Middle East……..

“A nuclear-armed Iran cannot be contained”

It can be, but not without some cost…….. A nuclear-armed Iran is a dangerous possibility. But that should not distract American decision-makers from seriously thinking about containment. Containing Iran will be costly, but a policy of pure prevention could be even costlier.

May 31, 2013 - Posted by | Gaza, politics international, weapons and war

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