The Nightmare This Time

(Boston Globe) Graham Allison - Can we live with a nuclear Iran? A new nuclear state goes through a period of ''nuclear adolescence" that poses special dangers of accidental or unauthorized use - and Iran would be no different. When a state first acquires a small number of nuclear weapons, those weapons become a tempting target: Successful attack would disarm any capacity to retaliate with nuclear weapons. Fearing preemption, new nuclear weapons states rationally adopt loose command and control arrangements. But control arrangements loose enough to guard against decapitation inherently mean more fingers on more triggers and consequently more prospects of a nuclear weapons launch. Could rogue elements within Iran's nuclear or security establishment divert nuclear weapons or nuclear materials to other nations or to terrorists? Over the decade of the 1990s, the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, A.Q. Khan, became the first global nuclear black marketer, running what Mohamed ElBaradei, the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has called a ''Wal-Mart of private-sector proliferation." His network sold to Libya, North Korea, Iran, and others, nuclear warhead designs, technologies for producing nuclear weapons, and even the uranium hexafluoride precursor of nuclear bomb fuel. The writer is director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

2006-03-13 00:00:00

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