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The consequences of Iran’s nuclear project

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By See-Dubya  •  May 21, 2008 09:06 AM

Pretend for a second that we’re all wrong about Iran. Think like a liberal.

Assume that Iran tells the truth when they say that they just really want some nuclear energy, and that’s why they’ve started enriching uranium. Imagine, if you can, that the Israel-off-the-map stuff from Ahmedinejad really was just rhetoric to keep the yokels in line and not any kind of serious threat.

So say we’ve just misunderstood Iran. Turns out we’re not the only ones who are misunderstanding them:

In the 11 months that followed the onset of this procedure [uranium enrichment--SeeDub] in Iran in 2006, 13 countries across the Middle East drew up new plans – or revived old ones – for building nuclear power stations.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies believes they were acting “in the shadow of Iran” and preparing for Tehran’s possible entry into the nuclear weapons club.

All the proposed nuclear programmes are civilian schemes designed to generate electricity. At present, there is no question of any international safeguards being breached. Yet if Iran were to test a nuclear bomb, every country in the Middle East would be forced to re-assess its defence policies.

So maybe you think the news about Iran making nuclear weapons is just a neocon lie. Do you think that’s also true of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and nearly a dozen other nations in the region ready to spin up centrifuges of their own?

Are they also all as well-intended as we are assuming that Iran is?

(And even ignoring the possibility of bad intentions: Will they all be sufficiently careful with these things? These are nuclear weapons we’re talking about. In Al Qaeda country.)

Anyway, all these nations–Islamic nations, most of them, and not those neocon Islamophobe warmongers–are signalling their own willingness to go nuclear to deter what they believe to be Iran’s nascent nuclear arsenal.

This means we’ve hit a situation where Iran’s desire to make itself more secure (or, since we are assuming the best about them here–to make themselves less reliant on fossil fuels and more reliant on nuclear power)–actually makes the region less secure.

There’s a name for this effect among the international-relations set: it’s called the security dilemma:

A frequently cited example of the security dilemma is the beginning of World War I. Supporters of this viewpoint argue that the major European powers felt forced to go to war by feelings of insecurity over the alliances of their neighbors, despite not actually desiring the war. Furthermore, the time necessary to mobilize large amounts of troops for defense led some Great Powers (such as Russia) to adopt a particularly accelerated mobilization timetable, which in turn put pressure on other states to mobilize early as well.

Iran knows this, of course, and they know what their neighbors are up to. If Iran wanted to stop this effect, they would comply with international law. They aren’t doing so. It’s a risky game, but if you think the Mahdi’s return is just around the corner and he’s on your side, why should you care? Especially if Al Qaeda (or Hezbollah) detonates a Saudi nuclear device in Riyadh or Long Beach.

Of course, once the Obamessiah sits down and explains all this to them, they’ll just slap their foreheads and say “Oh, we’re such ninnies! We’ll dismantle the whole nuclear program tomorrow. Sorry for the confusion.”

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{Post by See-Dubya; related previous Iran proliferation post here.}

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