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Iran and Nuclear Weapons

Current news media reports cover the slow but inexorable progress of Iran's nuclear development program. The United States, along with Britain, France, and Germany are calling for United Nations negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Iranian leaders, of course, are declaring that the program is only for the peaceful development of nuclear fuel for energy. The media coverage addresses the "what" of Iran's nuclear program, but it shows far less interest in the "why" of it.

In simple terms, why would an oil-rich country like Iran pursue a program to develop enriched uranium which can be used as fuel for both nuclear energy as well as nuclear weapons? What are Iran's ultimate objectives? The answer can be found in recent statements by its leaders.In recent weeks Iran's President declared that Iran will "wipe Israel from the face of the Earth" if it attacks Iran, that the Holocaust was a Western fabrication, and that Iran will not be "bullied" by the "colonial policy" of the West. This saber rattling indicates that Iran's true intentions are strategic and not economic - to develop a weapon with which it can hold the West at bay, to deter great power intervention, while it continues to foster it's version of Islamic revolution. With abundant oil resources it doesn't require nuclear fuel for economic purposes.

So, what are the implications should Iran develop nuclear weapons? The answer to the first question is that, first, Israel could be directly threatened with nuclear attack by a radical Islamic regime, thereby increasing the likelihood that any conflict with Israel could escalate to mutual use of nuclear weapons with attendant catastrophic results.

Second, with the elimination of Iraq by the United States as a strategic counter-balance in the Middle East, Iran would be in a position to directly threaten the non-nuclear Arabic nations around it.

Alternatively, it could use its nuclear capability as a form of shield while it exports its form of Shiite Islamic revolution to the minority populations of other Islamic nations. Overall, Sunni Muslims make up about 85-90% of Muslims worldwide, and Shiite Muslims account for the remaining 10-15% of Muslims. However, in Iran the demographics are reversed with Shiite Muslims making up about 89%, and Sunni Muslims about 10%, of Iran's population.

How should the West respond to the threat posed by Iran's nuclear program? The Western approach should accept that, first, any type of negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program is likely to fail. Since Iran's interests are not economic, it is not interested in economic incentives which would only make it further dependent upon the West. It is also not likely to willingly relinquish its nuclear program since it views it as necessary to its overall strategic objectives. The remaining alternative is forcible intervention by the West to remove or destroy Iran's nuclear program, or to set it back far enough that it will take years to recover. Iran must be shown in clear and unambiguous terms that it will not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, or to export its radical Shiite Islamic revolution to other nations.

With the United Nations' track record of ineffectiveness with rogue nations such as Iran it would be prudent for the West to begin making its preemptive plans now.

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