Assess threat of nuclear Iran
Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 30, 2012 21:04
“The danger of letting Iran’s nuclear program go on is greater than the danger of stopping it.” Most would probably assume that an Israeli official, a representative of the United States or maybe even a politician from the European Union expressed this sentiment. However, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain, an Arab nation, made this claim. The threat of a nuclear Iran isn’t just felt by Israel or other Middle Eastern nations; its dangers ripple across the Arab world to the shores of the United States. A nuclear Iran would set off a nuclear arms race that would propel its regional neighbors to commence their own nuclear programs and lead to further regional instability and mass nuclear proliferation.
A nuclear Iran isn’t just a theoretical threat; the danger Iran poses is real and perilous. Iran continues to enrich uranium, the element used to make nuclear bombs, at levels only used to create nuclear weapons. While Iran states that their nuclear program is for purely peaceful purposes, their actions clearly suggest otherwise. While we must remain mindful of the effect that a nuclear Iran will have on the Middle East region, as Americans, we must focus primarily on the deleterious consequences of Iran’s actions on the United States.
One of the most serious threats to the security of the United States is the possibility of rogue groups, such as terrorist organizations, obtaining weapons. While a nuclear-capable Iran itself remains the largest threat, it is also important to note Iran’s close relationship with terrorist groups such as Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iran currently supplies both terrorist organizations with missiles and other military equipment. Who is to say that Iran won’t further their regional interests by providing these groups with nuclear weapons as well? This possibility, as demonstrated by Iran’s current support for these organizations, is intolerable. A nuclear-capable Hamas or Hezbollah threatens both our regional interests in maintaining stability in the Middle East and America’s security if one of these organizations resorts to terrorist attacks on American soil, as we have seen with other rogue groups such as Al Qaeda.
Iran’s posturing threatens many Arab nations in the Middle East. Other Arab countries, such as Egypt, have indicated that they would build nuclear weapons if Iran was successful in constructing them. While Egypt has a history of promoting nuclear non-proliferation, the rise of the Arab Spring has added uncertainty to this pledge. The likely victor in the Egyptian elections taking place at the end of May is the Muslim Brotherhood—a radical Egyptian political organization that opposes much of Egypt’s current policy. If Iran obtains nuclear weapons and shares their technology with their allies in Hamas, Egypt may follow suit in order to maintain a balance of power within the region. The United States is currently leading a global effort to reduce nuclear weapons, but a Middle Eastern arms race would derail the global nuclear non-proliferation effort.
If the United States fails to stop Iran, our regional influence will wane. Iran would be the only non-democratic Middle Eastern country to possess nuclear weapons and something that would enhance their position in the region. Currently, Iran is isolated from the world community, and other Arab nations are distancing themselves from Iran.
However, an Iran with a nuclear weapons capability would reign supreme in a region that is already subject to constant volatility. Just as Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan remain conciliatory toward the United States because of our prominent position in global affairs, a nuclear Iran will lead to Arab nations acquiescing to their demands.
This would diminish the United States’ ability to foster democracy and promote equality for all people within this region.
Any country that is run by a dictatorial regime is fundamentally at odds with all democracy seeking nations. If a country such as Iran obtains nuclear weapons, the entire world would be affected. For this reason, it is the United States’ role to take action to halt the acceleration of Iran’s nuclear program.
While recent diplomatic talks with Iran are hopeful, America and our global partners must continue to pressure Iran to interrupt their march towards acquiring nuclear weapons. Ultimately, the prevention of a nuclear Iran will help maintain the fragile stability of the Middle East and allow the United States to continue to spread democratic values in this region in the hopes of a more pluralistic society.
The writer is a member of the Class of 2015.