Answering Iran

(Project Syndicate) Richard N. Haass - We know quite a bit about Iran's nuclear program, and what we know is not encouraging. Iran is reported to be enriching uranium at two sites - some of it to levels of 20%, far beyond what is required for civilian purposes. The International Atomic Energy Agency also reports that Iran is carrying out research to develop designs for nuclear warheads. In short, Iranian officials' claims that their nuclear program is aimed solely at power generation or medical research lacks all plausibility. There are significant drawbacks to acquiescing to a nuclear-armed Iran. Given its use of subversion and terrorism against its adversaries, a nuclear-armed Iran might be even more assertive. It might also transfer nuclear-related material, technology, or weapons to allies (Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, for example) or radical organizations such as Hizbullah and Hamas. Nor can it be assumed that Iran's radical leadership would always act rationally, or that proliferation would stop with the Islamic Republic. If Iran develops its nuclear weapons, countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt would be tempted to purchase or develop nuclear weapons of their own. A Middle East with multiple fingers on multiple triggers is as good a definition of a nightmare as there is. The writer, formerly Director of Policy Planning in the U.S. State Department, is President of the Council on Foreign Relations.

2012-01-27 00:00:00

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