From the beginning of the Cold War era and up to the present day, it’s hard to argue against the fact that nuclear weapons and the proliferation of nuclear weapons have played one of the biggest roles in international security policy. In 1968, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was created and over the course of the following years nearly every nation on the planet came to an agreement that restricting the spread of nuclear weapons was a top security priority and preventative measures must be installed. The agreement was extended indefinitely in 1995 and remains vital in our expanding nuclear world.
I’ve chosen this topic today following the news that the UN & the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an organisation labeled as the UN’s “atomic watchdog” on everything nuclear, is possibly lowering the amount of reported missing Uranium from a facility in Tehran from last year. Originally, the organisation reported there was a discrepancy over 19.8 kg of uranium and metal process waste that was missing from the Tehran facility’s inventory.
Significantly so, information regarding nearly 20 kg of missing nuclear material that is key to the production of nuclear weapons, located in the Middle East, is not going to go over well with the international community. Before the time of this report, the United States and it’s allies, as well as the UN, had already placed a watchful, suspicious eye on Iran and its nuclear ambitions. The IAEA report was just nuclear frosting on the atomic cake, giving all the more reason for increased sanctions and pressure on Iran to abandon its nuclear programme or ultimately face the consequences.
What I begin to question about the news from yesterday is why has it taken the IAEA this long to come out and say they might have made an error? And how much of an error? The report isn’t due until the end of August but at least a rough estimate. And will this change anything in the approach of the international community towards Iran concerning nuclear ambitions? I highly doubt it.
Until then, I’d like to share the some of the ideas of Professor Thomas E. Doyle II from the University of California. Professor Doyle wrote a research article in 2010 titled “Kantian nonideal theory and nuclearproliferation” for the International Theory journal.
From this, I agree with Professor Doyle that the United States and its Western allies have agreed upon the belief that if Iran does develop nuclear weapons, it could lead to nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and decrease the security of the region; as well as decease the security of US and Western interests, in terms of economic stability due to the heavy dependence on Middle Eastern oil, strategic relationships with nations such as Israel, and the overall threat of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons. Professor Doyle then uses Kantian nonideal theory to explain that even though the nuclear proliferation of Iran would violate the NPT, this theory shows that it is still “morally permissible” for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons. (Please read the article for further detail if you are interested)
And why shouldn’t they? Since the signing of the NPT, the super powers of the international community has created a de facto list of countries which are safe and unsafe to possess nuclear weapons, while violating the treaty themselves in their promises to work towards total disarmament.
Going back to the Israeli factor, several points should be made. There is a standing ambiguity when it comes to whether or not Israel possesses nuclear weapons. Many would say yes, they have the bomb. Additionally, Israel and it’s allies (largely the United States) believe that if nuclear proliferation takes places in the Middle East, there is the possibility that Israel would become a target of aggression. The media and government officials have often cited the destruction of Israel as one of the main goals of the region when it comes to obtaining the nuclear bomb. This scenario already creates tension in the region. From possessing the bomb themselves to previous events, we are aware of some of the preventive measures Israel has taken in order to safeguard itself from its neighbouring Muslim nations. In 1981, Israel launched Operation Opera, which saw Israeli fighter jets drop 16 bombs on Iraq and Saddam Hussein’s nuclear programme, destroying all possibilities of acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Could a preventive attack similar to this currently be in the works? Possibly. Who’s not to say it could happen if “progress” is not made by the use of sanctions and negotiations for Iran to end its nuclear programme. But if Iran was so set on the destruction of Israel, and Ahmadinejad is as evil as the media portrays him to be, why hasn’t there been an attack already using Iran’s current military resources?
The conflict of Iran’s nuclear ambitions is indispensable in the world of international politics and security. Conflict in the region could create another war amidst the backdrop of a decade plus long bloodshed in Iraq and political turmoil in the Middle East. My thoughts are that if nations such as Pakistan and India can have nuclear weapons and not obliterate one another from the face of the world, who’s to say that Iran is any less rational? Do we forget who holds the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world while preaching nuclear proliferation? Have we forgotten who is the only nation to ever use nuclear weapons in combat, not once, but twice? But then again the United States and it’s allies are a “morally rational” group.