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Mark Stapleton

Iran and the bomb

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Guest Stephen Turner

It’s highly unlikely that debaters on this thread should publicly encourage civil persons to obtain guns and rifles with the argument that this would increase their security.

Than how it comes that this line of arguments is suddenly used for the unruly and undemocratic republic of Iran and its desire to acquire nuclear bombs?

Dalibor,

No one's encouraging "civil persons to obtain guns and rifles with the argument that this would increase their security".

I think you're referring to a debate currently being conducted by the gun lobby within the USA.

I believe you completely missed the point of my argument.

Arguing that the states with acquired nuclear capability are safer when dealing with the realities of world policy seems to me to be on the same intellectual level as the argument that I will be safer at my home with acquired guns of my own.

As far as I know most people would disagree with the arguments about guns at homes but nearly at the same time the same people argue that spreading nuclear weapons (to whoever it could be, even to Iran ) will enhance countries (Irans) security.

I find this kind of argumentations incoherent.

What your arguement appears to boil down to is this. Its ok for all your beligerant neighbours to be armed to the teeth,but you must be denied a pea-shooter. This whole debate is beginning to attract a faint whiff of racism, WASP's have allways felt that not only do they own the World, but that it is right and proper that they do. As i said in an earlier post there is a simple solution to this problem, ALL countries should begin immediate destuction of their nuclear capabilities, and once completed, submit to regular UN inspections. Anyone see America, Britain, France, Russia etc agreeing to this? Of course not, and thats where the real problem lies. Oh BTW, who remembers the peace dividend that was promised once the cold war ended, just more lies and deception from the "trustworthy" leaders of the West.

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It’s highly unlikely that debaters on this thread should publicly encourage civil persons to obtain guns and rifles with the argument that this would increase their security.

Than how it comes that this line of arguments is suddenly used for the unruly and undemocratic republic of Iran and its desire to acquire nuclear bombs?

Dalibor,

No one's encouraging "civil persons to obtain guns and rifles with the argument that this would increase their security".

I think you're referring to a debate currently being conducted by the gun lobby within the USA.

I believe you completely missed the point of my argument.

Arguing that the states with acquired nuclear capability are safer when dealing with the realities of world policy seems to me to be on the same intellectual level as the argument that I will be safer at my home with acquired guns of my own.

As far as I know most people would disagree with the arguments about guns at homes but nearly at the same time the same people argue that spreading nuclear weapons (to whoever it could be, even to Iran ) will enhance countries (Irans) security.

I find this kind of argumentations incoherent.

There's no analogy between households posessing firearms and nations having nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons cost millions of dollars and are not mass produced like firearms. Households can't own nuclear weapons. Firearms can be readily accessed and used in the heat of the moment by anyone, in some cases by children. Linking my argument to the dangers of households owning excessive firearms is ridiculous, IMO.

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It’s highly unlikely that debaters on this thread should publicly encourage civil persons to obtain guns and rifles with the argument that this would increase their security.

Than how it comes that this line of arguments is suddenly used for the unruly and undemocratic republic of Iran and its desire to acquire nuclear bombs?

Dalibor,

No one's encouraging "civil persons to obtain guns and rifles with the argument that this would increase their security".

I think you're referring to a debate currently being conducted by the gun lobby within the USA.

I believe you completely missed the point of my argument.

Arguing that the states with acquired nuclear capability are safer when dealing with the realities of world policy seems to me to be on the same intellectual level as the argument that I will be safer at my home with acquired guns of my own.

As far as I know most people would disagree with the arguments about guns at homes but nearly at the same time the same people argue that spreading nuclear weapons (to whoever it could be, even to Iran ) will enhance countries (Irans) security.

I find this kind of argumentations incoherent.

What your arguement appears to boil down to is this. Its ok for all your beligerant neighbours to be armed to the teeth,but you must be denied a pea-shooter. This whole debate is beginning to attract a faint whiff of racism, WASP's have allways felt that not only do they own the World, but that it is right and proper that they do. As i said in an earlier post there is a simple solution to this problem, ALL countries should begin immediate destuction of their nuclear capabilities, and once completed, submit to regular UN inspections. Anyone see America, Britain, France, Russia etc agreeing to this? Of course not, and thats where the real problem lies. Oh BTW, who remembers the peace dividend that was promised once the cold war ended, just more lies and deception from the "trustworthy" leaders of the West.

Hi Steve,

I agree with you that it would be nice if all countries would agree to some kind of ceremonial destruction of all their nuclear weapons, but we all know this isn't going to happen. You can't turn back the clock on technology--it points forward as surely as the arrow of time. Nuclear technology isn't the evil force that many claim, IMO. I've read that France now uses nuclear technology for 80% of its energy needs. Anyway, my guess is that if all nuclear weapons were suddenly wiped from the face of the earth the result would be a return to large scale wars fought with conventional weapons--more modern and more destructive conventional weapons.

The reason why I believe in the unlikelihood of a nuclear war is as follows:

Consider the case of North Korea's belligerent leader, Kim Jong Il. It is feared by some that because he possesses the technology to strike at Japan and South Korea, and has sometimes behaved threateningly towards them, that there was a high probability that he would actually do it. However, should he ever launch a nuclear attack on these countries (which come under the NATO umbrella), the retaliatory capability of a nation like the US or Russia to launch a counter-strike at North Korea from either land or sea would result in North Korea's certain destruction. Kim is dead, his family is dead, his relatives and friends are dead (assuming he has friends), and his empire is gone. Even if he somehow finds shelter in a deep underground bunker and emerges weeks later he would find his nation is now a blazing, toxic moonscape of rubble. Because of the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the same horrifying scenario which aggressors would inflict on others can be equally, and with great certainty, be projected back on them. This kind of deterrent has few equals.

Those cowards in high office who readily launch conventional wars know that a nuclear war is a different ball game altogether. In a nuclear war it's not just the soldiers but millions of civilians, including themselves, who are in the line of fire. They would never launch a nuclear war when other nations have ample retaliatory capability. Remember, the only nuclear attack in the sixty year history of the nuclear age occurred when only one nation possessed nuclear weapons. Nuclear retaliation was impossible.

Getting back to the theme of the thread, this is why all the hysteria generated by the US and its allies about Iran's determination to acquire and use nuclear weapons is just baloney. They are mainly worried that if Iran goes ahead they will have to be much more circumspect about throwing their weight around in the Middle East. That's the real issue.

p.s. just remembered I haven't done the Jake Levy thing yet (sorry about that). Next week at the latest. B)

Edited by Mark Stapleton

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Can I just throw in a quick reality check?

The Iranians say that they aren't trying to make a nuclear bomb, but rather trying to develop their own nuclear power. Now, they may well be lying, but it isn't very smart to state that openly if you want another nation to change its behaviour.

But what if they're telling the truth?

If that's the case, then the Russian approach seems much more productive to me. I.e. 'Ok, you need enriched uranium. Let's set up a plant on Russian territory but under joint control. That way you'll get all the enriched uranium you need more quickly, and with our expert help. You'll certainly learn how to do it yourselves, but you'll do it in a controlled way, with our involvement all the way down the line.'

The problem is that the hysterical reaction from the West makes that kind of productive approach just that bit harder to achieve.

Perhaps we need another thread (on a different sub-forum?) too, about the madness of relying on nuclear power to solve our energy crisis.

David,

Thanks for your thoughts. It will be very interesting to see what becomes of the "Russian Solution". I doubt whether it will be acceptable to Iran in the long run but I may be wrong.

On nuclear power, I'm not sure that it's as scary as you believe. I'm definitely not an expert but I've read that reactor technology has advanced rapidly in the last two decades.

The new generation 3 and 4 reactors are reportedly much safer than older types, such as the one at the Chernobyl site in the Ukraine which disintegrated in a steam explosion in 1986. This was a Soviet designed RBMK boiling water reactor with a graphite moderator, constructed in the 1950's. There are currently 103 reactors in operation in the US, providing 20% of America's electricity needs to the national grid.

Edited by Mark Stapleton

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Of course Iran shouldn't have 'the' bomb. Of course nobody should. Similar arguments could be made about nuclear energy.

No country should feel that it's government is and always will be able to resist the temptation to use them. And if they weren't willing to use them, there's no point in having them. If all coutries currently with them signed a 'no first strike' agreement, we could dismantle them, save billions and send the dangerous materials somewhere in space where they'll make no impact, like into the sun. We could then spend the money saved on researching alternative energy sources and world health programmes.

Oddly, most socialists already know this.

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It will be very interesting to see what becomes of the "Russian Solution". I doubt whether it will be acceptable to Iran in the long run but I may be wrong.

On nuclear power, I'm not sure that it's as scary as you believe. I'm definitely not an expert but I've read that reactor technology has advanced rapidly in the last two decades.

Yes, I think that it's too late for the 'Russian Solution' now too. For me it's an example of the kind of solution that's possible if hysterical war-mongers like Bush and Blair can be induced to shut up and let the grown-ups handle things.

This isn't the thread for a nuclear power debate, but one of the many unpleasant side-effects of nuclear energy is that it produces bomb-making materials … and no-one has yet discovered a way to neutralise these successfully. The only 'solution' that's even being worked on is to put the products of nuclear power stations down deep holes for thousands of years. (I was about to call them 'waste products', but, actually, when nuclear power stations were first developed in Britain, one of their prime purposes was to produce materials for Britain's nuclear bombs.) At present most of these products are stored in highly unstable surface tanks (often under water).

The bottom line is that Iran would get access to the raw materials for bomb-making if she started a nuclear energy programme, even though these materials would need further refining, using processes that the Iranians currently can't manage (although they can learn).

This, however, is the case with any country with nuclear power stations (did you know that 'peaceful, neutral' Sweden was a hair's breadth away from deciding to develop its own nuclear weapons in the early 1960s?). It's too late to put the nuclear genie back in the bottle. What we have to do now is devise mature ways of dealing with that situation.

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Having lived in Iran during and after the Islamic Revolution, I do see quite a big difference between the USA, France or Israel having nuclear weapons and the sort of people I saw in charge there controlling them... If you really can't see the difference, try moving there for a couple of years...

I don’t think you have to live in Iran to be aware of its awful government. The only thing I hate more than Muslim Fundamentalism is Christian Fundamentalism. Nor do I have had to live in Israel to realize what an awful government they have had over the last 30 years. The US government since 2000 has also been pretty awful. All three are awful in different ways. However, I believe that the US and Israel both pose a larger threat to world peace than Iran. As the record shows, they have both been responsible for a great deal of death and destruction over the last few years.

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Arguing that the states with acquired nuclear capability are safer when dealing with the realities of world policy seems to me to be on the same intellectual level as the argument that I will be safer at my home with acquired guns of my own.

As far as I know most people would disagree with the arguments about guns at homes but nearly at the same time the same people argue that spreading nuclear weapons (to whoever it could be, even to Iran ) will enhance countries (Irans) security.

I find this kind of argumentations incoherent.

It was always argued that the possession of nuclear weapons would protect you from attack. When I was active in the CND in the 1960s this was the main argument of those who wanted to keep nuclear weapons. They would constantly point out that no country with nuclear weapons had ever been invaded. We accepted that point but added that if this was true, it was an argument for all countries to have nuclear weapons.

It is not surprising that countries with a history of being invaded should want nuclear weapons for protection. It was inevitable that this would happen. In 1968 the nuclear club agreed to the non-proliferation treaty (NPT). Of course they did. However, this idea was completely meaningless to those countries outside the nuclear umbrella.

The superpowers have tried to stop other countries from joining the nuclear club. However, that is not the case with Israel. The US actually helped Israel to become a nuclear power. That was a disastrous decision as it has encouraged other countries in the Middle East to want nuclear weapons. I suspect if I was living in an Arab state I would also want my government to have nuclear weapons. It is your only guarantee from being invaded by Israel or the United States. Do you think Bush would have invaded Iraq if they really did have WMD? Doesn’t that explain why the US has not invaded North Korea?

I cannot understand the logic of Bush and Blair beating their chest over Iran. They know they are not going to invade. Nor can they afford for them to cut back oil production. The Arabs can now bring down the Western economy if they so wish. The US no longer has the power it once had. It cannot really afford the middle-eastern states forming an alliance with China and Russia (it is highly unlikely that these two nations will join in any sanctions policy).

The point is we are in no position to lecture the Arabs on acquiring nuclear weapons. As Simon Jenkins said recently: “If you cannot stop a man buying a gun, the next best bet is to make him your friend, not your enemy.”

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Till now, what has prevented the crisis in Iraq from becoming a total debacle for the United States has been the open collaboration of the Iranian clerics. Iranian foreign policy - fragmentary and opportunist - has always been determined by the needs and interests of the clerical state rather than any principled anti-imperialist strategy. In the past, this has led to a de facto collaboration with Washington in Afghanistan and Iraq. During the Iran-Iraq war, the clerics had no hesitation in buying arms from the Israeli regime to fight Iraq, then backed by Britain and the US. In the wake of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq - hoping, no doubt, that clearing the path for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and Mullah Omar might have won them a respite - the regime took a tougher stance on the nuclear question.

The Bush administration appears to be psyching itself up for a safe strike against Iran either by itself or via the Israelis, whose new leaders have referred to the Iranian president as a psychopath and a new Hitler. Why has Washington manufactured this crisis? The hypocrisy of Bush, Blair, Chirac or Olmert - their own states armed with thousands of nuclear weapons - making a casus belli of what are, by all accounts, primitive gropings on Iran's part towards the technology necessary for the lowest grade of nuclear self-defence, hardly needs to be spelled out. So long as these powers are allowed to enlarge their nuclear armouries unimpeded, why should Tehran not?

The country is not only ringed by atomic states (India, Pakistan, China, Russia, Israel), it also faces a string of American bases with potential or actual nuclear stockpiles in Qatar, Iraq, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. Nuclear-armed US aircraft carriers and submarines patrol the waters off its southern coast. Historically, Iran has every reason to fear outside threats. Its elected government was overthrown with covert Anglo-American aid in 1953, and the secular opposition destroyed. From 1980 to 1988, the western powers abetted Saddam Hussein's onslaught, in which hundreds of thousands of Iranians died. More than 300 Iraqi missiles were launched at Iranian cities and economic targets, especially the oil industry. In the war's final stages, the US destroyed nearly half the Iranian navy in the Gulf and, for good measure, shot down a crowded civilian passenger plane.

For the clerical state, the war on terror has been the best and the worst of times. Oil prices have soared. Enemy regimes on both sides, Baghdad and Kabul, have been overthrown. The Iraqi Shia parties that they have been fostering for years are now in office. Washington has been reliant on their help to sustain its occupations both there and in Afghanistan. Yet social tensions in Iran are high. In this context, the nuclear issue is one of the regime's few unifying projects. It is worth recalling that the Iranian nuclear programme began under the Shah with technology offered by the Americans. Khomeini put the project on hold, considering it un-Islamic. Operations were restarted, with Russians later taking over construction of the light-water reactors at Bushehr begun by the West Germans in the 1970s. From the start, Iran, like Germany, the Netherlands or Japan, has wanted its programme to take in the full nuclear cycle, including uranium enrichment; Russia has several times threatened to impose conditions on fuel deliveries. Enrichment centrifuges were surreptitiously imported from neighbouring Pakistan; not the process, but the failure to report it, was in contravention of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) agreements.

There is no evidence that Iran is much closer to nuclear weapons now than was Iraq in September 2002, when Blair and Cheney assured the world that Baghdad represented a "genuine nuclear threat". Reports in 2003 by a somewhat demented sect, the Mojahedin e-Khalq, of preliminary nuclear research at the Natanz installation were no such proof. But in the competitive scramble by European powers to enhance their standing with Washington after the invasion of Iraq, France, Germany and Britain were keen to prove their mettle by forcing extra agreements on Tehran. The Khatami regime immediately capitulated. In December 2003, they signed the "Additional Protocol" demanded by the EU3, agreeing to a "voluntary suspension" of the right to enrichment guaranteed under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Within three months, the IAEA was condemning them for having failed to ratify it; in June 2004, its inspectors produced examples of Iranian enrichment work, perfectly legal under the NPT, but ruled out by the Additional Protocol. Israel has boasted of its intention to "destroy Natanz" - the contrast to its stealth bombing of Iraq's Osirak reactor in 1981 a measure of the new balance of forces. In the summer of 2004, a large bi-partisan majority in the US Congress passed a resolution for "all appropriate measures" to prevent an Iranian weapons programme and there was speculation about an "October surprise" before the 2004 presidential poll. Plans were thus well advanced before Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's victory in the June 2005 Iranian presidential election.

Ahmadinejad reaped the vote against Khatami's miserable record between 1997 and 2005. Economic conditions had worsened and Khatami was prepared to defend the rights of foreign investors, but not those of independent newspapers or protesting students. Manoeuvring ineffectually between contradictory pressures, he exhausted his moral credit. Contrary to some reports, Ahmadinejad has not so far imposed any new puritanical clampdown on social mores. Instead, the most likely constituency to be disappointed is Ahmadinejad's own: the millions of young, working-class jobless, crammed into overcrowded living conditions, in desperate need of a national development policy that neither neoliberalism nor Islamist voluntarism will provide.

Nor is fundamentalist backwardness exhibited in the denial of the Nazi genocide against the Jews and the threat to obliterate Israel, a basis for any foreign policy. To face up to the enemies ranged against Iran requires an intelligent and far-sighted strategy - not the current rag-bag of opportunism and manoeuvre, determined by the immediate interests of the clerics.

Clearing the way for the overthrow of the Iraqi Ba'ath and Afghan Taliban regimes and backing the US occupations has bought no respite. The US undersecretary of state has spoken of "ratcheting up the pressure". Israeli defence minister Shaul Mofaz has said that "Israel will not be able to accept an Iranian nuclear capability, and it must have the capability to defend itself with all that this implies, and we are preparing." Hillary Clinton accused the Bush administration of "downplaying the Iranian threat" and called for pressure on Russia and China to impose sanctions on Tehran. Chirac has spoken of using French nuclear weapons against such a "rogue state". Perhaps it is simply high-octane rocket-rattling, the aim being to frighten Tehran into submission. Bullying is unlikely to succeed. Will the west then embark on a new war? If so, the battlefield might stretch from the Tigris to the Oxus and without any guarantee of success.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/st...1766110,00.html

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The US stance towards Iran is identical to Iraq pre-invasion rhetoric being used to whip everone into a frenzy in 2003. Just prior to all this posturing, claims were made (both in the UK and US) that Iran was at least 10 years away from developing a nuclear weapon. All that has now been forgotten.

I agree with other comments made that Iran's regime is a cause for concern, but fail to see why they are any more of a concern than some other countries around the world. I agree with John, that if Iran already possessed a nuclear capability we would not be having this conversation.

I think that all of this (Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria(?), Venezeula(?) etc) is all being driven by a number of pressing issues for the US which include, amongst other things, US Imperialism and strategic domination of the region, control of the regions natural resources including a pipeline through the area and carrying out Israel's foreign policy.

I do not believe any of this is connected with a nuclear threat - which IMHO is simply another fabricated pretext for war.

If Iran has genuine ambitions to acquire nukes, surely they would simply buy nukes. Creating a nuclear energy programme for the purpose of creating nukes is expensive, takes a long time and is a sure-fire way to illicit a reaction from the US and Israel. Also, what ever happened to the nuclear detterent argument? If Iran did succeed in:

1) acquiring sufficient uranium.

2) enriching it to weapons-grade standards

3) increasing the number of centrifuges from under 50(current) to over 16,000(required)

4) creating a suitable nuclear warhead

5) creating a viable delivery system

and actually nuked anyone(all without a successful test) - the US, or Israel for that matter, would turn Iran into a giant green glass ashtray!! Not a very smart thing to do...

When the US or Israel have thumped Iran and are making similar noises about Syria(no oil, just arabs) and then Libya, followed by Venezeula, perhaps Bolivia and all the other resource-rich countries who refuse to tow Washington's line, will we be discussing the bogus 'WMD' ploy in connection with those countries as if it holds water?

The Bush propaganda machine is already starting to paint Venezeula into the nuclear club by suggesting Chavez is trying to obtain uranium from Iran!!!

http://washingtontimes.com/national/200604...23504-8592r.htm

I also agree with John that the US represents a much larger threat to world peace than any middle-east regime...

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creating a viable delivery system and actually nuking anyone (all without a successful test) - the US, or Israel for that matter, would turn Iran into a giant green glass ashtray!! Not a very smart thing to do...l

Exactly the reason why Iran will never strike its enemies with a nuclear weapon. If it ever does this, Iran will be a memory. The US is fully aware of this.

Edited by Mark Stapleton

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