Home / The Price of UN Indecision Over Iran: A Nuclear Arms Race

The Price of UN Indecision Over Iran: A Nuclear Arms Race

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In the light on the obviously ineffective nuclear negotiations with Iran, six other Arab states decided they want to be nuclear powers: Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, UAE, and Saudi Arabia all have announced plans to start working on nuclear technology. The implication is that this "peaceful" research, well within the "sovereign rights" of these nations, will be used for nuclear weapons. For as much as people claim the U.S. has been shredding the Geneva Conventions, the bumbling over the Iran issue has led to an effective dissolution of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

This is the consequence of Iran's transparent development of nuclear weapons, the world knows it, and the UN isn't and can't do anything about it. Iran has thumbed its nose at the world, and the world shuffles around and navel gazes.

Iran knows they won't be stopped by the UN because Russia and China have effectively said they won't even allow sanctions, much less military action. The consequences of a nuclear Iran have no effect on China or Russia (as opposed to North Korea) and in fact, it distracts the U.S. and makes life difficult for them. A U.S. distracted and hampered by problems in the Middle East is a boon to Russian and China, and they know it.

Both the Vietnam precedent and current public opinion on Iraq show the world that the U.S. simply does not have the internal fortitude to get involved in a war that isn't over in a few weeks. Saddam Hussein knew this, which is why he planned the so-called insurgency before the war. He knew if he could run the clock long enough, the public pressure in the U.S. would cause us to eventually leave. Iran knows this, too, so they are playing their cards that the U.S. is too committed in Iraq and wouldn't invade anyway.

The rest of the Arab world has watched and also come to the conclusion that they can simply ignore international law, and there will be no consequences. No one takes the righteous indignation of UN bureaucrats seriously unless it can be followed by some action. The UN has shown itself to be incapable of action. The U.S. has shown itself unwilling.

Either the UN and Europe needs to man up and deal with Iran, or the world has a nuclear arms race on its hands — an arms race that will take place in one of the most volatile places in the world at that.

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About John Doe

A political activist and security expert.
  • Bob Jones

    I think the US can make Saudi Arabia stop with deals of nuclear support – like they have with Japan, maybe Egypt aswell.

    If we can show them its cheaper and safer for them to have nuclear support from us.

  • Valery Dawe

    You didn’t mention Israel and its nukes. How come?

  • Because Israel already has nukes.

    I’m not talking about old nuclear powers but new ones, though I’d imagine Israel would be a big player if an arms race began because all those Arab states will have their nukes points one way.

  • valery Dawe

    Do you think that “the UN and Europe needs to man up and deal with Iran,” while allowing Israel to continue building WMD? If so, why?

  • Bliffle

    Acquisition of nuclear power by Iran is the direct result of several dunderheaded policy decisions by this dunderheaded administration, especially by the Dunderhead In Chief:

    1-cutting off diplomacy with Iraq. This is as childish as the little kid on the playground who closes his eyes tight and sticks his fingers in his ears and wishes the bully to go away. We should ALWAYS talk with anyone anytime. Talk is cheap. We have many many people in State who need more constructive employment than whatever else they are doing. Better jaw jaw than war war, as some troublemaker once said.

    2-abandoning and antagonizing the UN, which the US has a very successful history of using to achieve it’s foreign policy goals (WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, etc.). I suppose the dunderheads did this to win political points with the ignorant nitwits they refer to as ‘the base’.

    3-misdirecting the very limited intelligence in the administration by applying it all to justify the Iraq Invasion, a task which threatens to consume in fruitless toil every ounce of grey matter directed at it.

    4-immobilizing the entire army by committing it to the fruitless vanity war in Iraq, thus rendering it impotent as a force in international sword-rattling diplomacy.

  • BriMan

    First of all, Iranians arent Arab. They’re Persian so they shouldnt be lumped in so callously with “other Arab states” as you suggest. At least make an attempt to understand your subject before you write about them.

    “the bumbling over the Iran issue has led to an effective dissolution of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

    Bush shredded the NNT treaty when he decided to open up a tactical nuke program.

    Shrub’s policy of disengagement and promotion of new nuclear programs within the US and its allies (yes Israel) as well as the preemptive doctrine and the several wingnuts in the administration that believe a nuclear war is winnable are all as much to blame as any one country’s reactionist policies.

    Iran is 10 years away from developing nuclear bomb technology – anyone can easily see that if you understand what it takes to enrich uranium. They simply dont have the technical capacity and the proper equipment to pursue a nuclear bomb at this time.

    But according to international law, they do have a right to pursue nuclear energy above-board. This would be good for the US if we sold them the light-water reactors they need instead of the Russians selling the dangerous, heavy-water reactors that produce as a by-product the raw materials for fission bombs. (You know, just like Carter (after he was president) promised the N. Koreans we would do for them (but then the Pentagon got involved and the Clinton administration reneged on selling the reactors)).

  • Alec

    Americans, both liberals and conservatives, need to give up the delusion that we are masters of the universe. The cold, hard fact is that the neither the US nor any other nation, nor any international body, can impose its will on another country or interfere with another country’s perception of its own national interest – except through covert or overt force. The UN’s bumbling is totally irrelevant to what Iran or any other nation will do with respect to nuclear arms. Any nation with the intellectual and economic resources might pursue a nuclear option, unless that nation’s leaders decide to forego this option.

    No one, not the US, the former Soviet Union, nor China could prevent India and Pakistan from developing nuclear weapons, even though for some odd reason conservatives often seem to have developed amnesia over the actions of these two nations.

    You can also make a case that the U.S. accidentally helped Pakistan to become a nuclear state. Without US military aid, designed to help thwart Soviet gains in the region, Pakistan would have been significantly weaker compared to India, and might have sought diplomatic solutions to conflicts in Kashmir and other areas. Instead, propped up by foreign aid (from the Saudis as well as from the US), Pakistan had additional resources that could be used to bring it into the nuclear age. Also note that even though China and India have been antagonists in the past, and have even fought each other over border disputes, China could do nothing to prevent India from going nuclear even though the Chinese obviously have a substantial nuclear arsenal.

    It is possible that Muslim nations did not pursue a nuclear option for fear that Israel might attack them with overwhelming force. But now, for reasons that are still unclear, Middle Eastern nations seem intent on going nuclear as soon as they can, perhaps seeing this as the ultimate bargaining chip over Israel.

    Some liberals live in the perpetual delusion that everyone else in the world would be a non-nuclear pacifist if only the bad old US would not be such a nasty imperialist. Some conservatives have forgotten the first part of Teddy Roosevelt’s advice to speak softly and get a massive ideological hard-on over the notion of the big stick of America’s military power. Both liberals and conservatives refuse to acknowledge that the UN has often been America’s bitch, acting or failing to act (Yugoslavia, Rwanda) based on the marching orders sent from Washington. Worse, the Bush Administration and their bonehead cheerleaders on talk radio and around the internet continually confuse a bully’s swagger from a wise man’s confidence, and then scurry like fools to blame the UN or the devil, aka Bill Clinton, for their own stupid blunders.

  • Can you please interpret this sentence? “For as much as people claim the U.S. has shredding the Geneva Conventions, the bumbling over the Iran issue has led to an effective dissolution of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

    “Both the Vietnam precedent and current public opinion on Iraq show the world that the U.S. simply does not have the internal fortitude to get involved in a war that isn’t over in a few weeks.”

    Well, especially when the Bush Admn. promised a short victory. Rumsfeld: “And it is not knowable if force will be used, but if it is to be used, it is not knowable how long that conflict would last. It could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.”

    Part of the public conversation about the effect of invading Iraq (not to mention Abu Graib) has been that it has inspired more ire against the U.S. in the Middle-East and has made U.S.-focused terrorism even more seductive.Despite U.S. “public diplomacy” in the Middle-East the numbers don’t look good. Why don’t you consider that when you ruminate, “But now, for reasons that are still unclear, Middle Eastern nations….?”

    Why not look at the matter at least partially from the point of view of REagan’s and Bush I and II’s defense/security rhetoric? Many people the world over (traditionally European allies as well as the Middle East) have repeatedly cited the U.S. as a perceived threat to world peace. When many pereceive threat, they arm to protect themselves. This appears even more convincing, doesn’t it, after the announcement of the new W. Bush doctrine of “pre-emptive” war?

    allies: “Moreover, even as concerns about Iran have increased, somewhat more Britons believe that the U.S. military presence in Iraq represents a great danger to stability in the Middle East and world peace than say that about the current government in Iran (by 41%-34%). In Spain, fully 56% say the U.S. military presence in Iraq is a great danger to the stability of the Middle East and world peace; just 38% regard the current government in Iran in the same way. Among America’s traditional allies, Germany is the only country where more people say Iran is a great danger than offer the same view of the U.S. military presence in Iraq (by 51%-40%).

    To me your comments reveal ideological blindness in the easily analyzable but overly simple world of liberal/conservative, left-wing/right-wing:easy for quick claims that evade deeper analysis. Why here do I say that, besides your use of labels to do analytic work? Because many events have multiple causes, primary and secondary causes. Nations and people arm for multiple reasons. You don’t even consider that U.S. foreign policy under this administration could make many nations the world over feel threatened, that Dr. Strangelove’s soul has transmigrated into Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Rice. But when we think through ideological formulas, that’s what happens.
    Jayson Harsin

  • Bill B

    Both the Vietnam precedent and current public opinion on Iraq show the world that the U.S. simply does not have the internal fortitude to get involved in a war that isn’t over in a few weeks.

    This is deceptive and misleading if you’re unwilling to factor in a few pertinent issues.

    *Distorted and inaccurate intel, very possibly by political design.

    *Pre-emptive invasion when arguably our security was not in any immediate peril.

    *Any informed input revolving around winning the peace tossed to the curb by a stubborn, incompetent, disfunctional administration.

    *No endgame.

    *Ignoring reality.

    *Thousands of dead soldiers, Iraqis, etc. for a war that should not have been launched in the first place.

    All these issues and more have everything to do with how much our citizenry is willing to sacrifice. Your simplistic comment is an insult to our country.


    re #7

    give up the delusion that we are masters of the universe.

    Alec has a point. I still don’t know who died and left the world to us. I’m coming from a somewhat different perspective but I’ve always thought it somewhat ironic that the only country that’s ever used nukes thinks it should be arbiter of who should and should not have them.

    bargaining chip over Israel.

    And us? It seems a lesson our pre-emptive strike against Iraq and inaction against North Korea has taught the rest of the world is that they better ‘nuke up’.

    And if we hadn’t botched Iraq so badly we very well may have (and may yet) continued right into Iran.


    It seems to me that our carry a big stick mentality coupled with ‘inappropriate application’ will come back to haunt us as nukes become more and more pervasive. Just a matter of time before they fall into the wrong hands, if they haven’t already.

    A whole new paradigm may be indicated. Currently we’re the fist squeezing the handful of sand (the rest of the world) tighter and tighter as the sand slips through our fingers.

    Maybe we need to rethink our role in the world and our motivations for our interactions within it.

  • Avi

    2 small comments :

    “In the light on the obviously ineffective nuclear negotiations with Iran, six other Arab states decided “…Iran is not an Arab country

    Morocco has been working on nuclear technology since the 1980’s for civilian purposes with the support from the U.S. Government, since it has no oil. Nothing new, then.

    Moreover, apart from Algeria, all these countries have been allies of the U.S. for a long time (Morocco since the 18th century, believe it or not !) Why not developing civilian nuclear energy like Spain, Japan, or Finland, under the control of IAEA ?

    Except these two comments, I fully agree with the article conclusions on the consequences of UN attitude towards Iran : these guys are openly creating a nuclear industry for MILITARY purposes and the whole world seems to be powerless…

  • I said 6 other Arab nations, that in addition to Iran which, like has been said, is Persian.