Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Iran will go nuclear; question is how to deal with it

This encounter between Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens and Carnegie’s Karim Sadjadpour in Fareed Zakaria’s GPS show presents two differing viewpoints between those who believe strike on Iran is becoming more inevitable than ever to prevent the Islamic republic from acquiring a nuclear weapon and those who believe sanctions and diplomacy is more effective way to bring Iran to its knees.

But there is one thing everyone seems to overlook: How to deal with Iran armed with nuclear bombs?

It has been increasingly clear that Iran will develop a nuclear bomb sooner or later and any possible Israeli or American strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities or covert sabotaging will only delay the country’s suspected nuclear program by three years at most along with tragic consequences for Israel and US interests in the Middle East.

Three countries in the Middle East who are believed to have secret nuclear weapons program present a fresh motivation for Iran to go nuclear even faster than Iranian leaders plan. Israeli fighter jets allegedly bombed Iraq’s nuclear facilities in Osirak in 1981 and devoid of any nuclear deterrence in Iraq eventually brought the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Libya’s late leader Muammar Gaddafi relinquished its nuclear program in 2005 in a bid to open up to the international community and largely because he felt his country is secure without nuclear weapons capability. It is beyond doubt that no country could dare to intervene in Libya this year if it had nuclear weapons.

Another glaring example is Syria, whose plutonium enrichment facilities were bombed by Israeli warplanes in 2007. Its embattled leader Bashar al-Assad now faces impending military intervention into his country due to already surfacing civil war there. It is also out of question that it will be hard to think of military intervention in Syria if it has nuclear weapons.

These three examples no doubt pushed Iran’s regime who is trying to survive at every cost to reconsider its nuclear program and if any effect, they will further motivate the Islamic republic to get nuclear weapons even faster.

Another motivation for Iran to go nuclear is increasing Israeli and American threats of possible military strikes on Iran. It is a simple math: the more threat a state faces, the more deterring capability the state will attempt to acquire. University of Chicago's John Mearsheimer tells his students in this lecture that he would advise Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to weaponize if he were his national security adviser in the face of increasing threats.

I was chatting this morning with Mark Fitzpatrick from International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) who has served in a number of US administrations for many years and who is one of the most prominent experts on nuclear disarmament with respect to Iran’s nuclear activities and I asked him if Iran will eventually go nuclear. He was sharp in his response: No strategy needed for Iran with nuclear weapons because it will not happen. As a measure of last resort, military strike will come into play.

Everyone in these days is speaking about how to stop Iran’s nuclear activities they suspect a disguise for nuclear weapons. But a smarter strategy would be to accept the fact that Iran will get the nuclear capability sooner or later and draw policies that will contain Iran from posing a security challenge for the West and neighboring nations.

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