Targeting Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program: America’s Allies in the Crosshairs

By Alicia Dressman, writer and activist in the Kansas City community

In his editorial to The New York Times (12/24, A23, “There’s Only One Way to Stop Iran,”) Mr. Kuperman quietly suggests a solution to preventing an Iranian warhead: Nuclear strike on behalf of the United States. Eliminating Iranian nuclear facilities would obliterate resources to enrich uranium, the fuel, and resources to develop ballistic missiles, the delivery system. What the article fails to discuss is the dilemma of Iran’s covert affiliates, technically speaking, countries which tacitly support the Iranian government visa vie economic cooperation. This dilemma will require, to Kuperman’s dismay, more than a B-2 stealth bomber, a 300 kiloton gravity bomb, and the latitude and longitude of the enrichment facility in Qom.[i] The dilemma would require us to sever political and economic ties with our closest allies at a time when America needs them the most.

It is why the last bastion of democracy, America, tip toes around China’s human rights violations, why the Islamic Republic of Iran fraternizes with Socialist Venezuela. Securing natural resources and regulating national debt have implicitly connected the world’s greatest archrivals. The Senate’s recent sanctions bill is not simply about cutting off Iranian access to energy (gasoline), but about measures against its trading partners which export this energy. [ii] By “trading partners,” one traditionally imagines U.N. Security Council members Russia and China, who until recently opposed sanctions.[iii] However Iran’s foremost importers are the United Arab Emirates  (U.A.E.), China, Germany, South Korea, Italy, France, and Russia respectively.[iv] Therefore the net is wider, and the plot thickens. The Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, which recently bankrupted projects in the booming city of Dubai,[v] revealed the interrelatedness of U.A.E. and American investments. It goes without saying America is $2 trillion out of China’s favor.[vi] As for Germany and South Korea, their friendship has long been held as deterrent to the Russian and North Korean weapons program with B-61 gravity bombs deployed in Germany[vii] and armed forces deployed in each country. Therefore Iran’s reckoning would bring more than two countries to the table.

The futility of sanctions and diplomacy is underlined in Kuperman’s argument, “since peaceful carrots and sticks cannot work…the United States faces a stark choice: military air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities or acquiescence to Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.” Kuperman’s ultimatum applies to a universe in which the Iranian ballistic missile system and nuclear warhead is Persian in design and production. Nothing could be further from the truth. Former IAEA chief nuclear weapons inspector David Kay remarked earlier this year the focus of concern should be “the transfer of technology to others, particularly the Iranians.”[viii] The Shahab 3A ballistic missile is modeled on North Korea’s NoDong-1 missile,[ix] China is North Korea’s closest political ally. Russia, elected by the U.N. to enrich uranium for Iran’s disputed civilian energy use, collaborated on the Bushehr-based nuclear power plant to break ground in March 2010. [x] In essence, if the United States were to usurp the Iranian nuclear weapons program, we would have to strong arm our closest political allies.

America has witnessed Kuperman’s zone of no alternatives before when in March 2005 Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld coordinated military efforts into a first-strike policy on Iran and North Korea.[xi] We were told this would safeguard our allies as well as ourselves. Today our allies are increasingly ambivalent to the American nuclear deterrent. Germany and Belgium recently announced the intention to redeploy B-61s,[xii] The Obama administration cancelled the installation of radar and missile shield programs in Poland and Czechoslovakia after public opposition.[xiii] Leaders of states without nuclear weapons have been at the forefront of the Global Zero Campaign to eradicate the world’s nuclear arsenal, such as Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso. [xiv] The foreign policy agenda with nuclear strike as a military option is no longer the agenda of a majority of our allies. America would therefore pursue a nuclear strike without unilateral advocacy. We would alienate economic partners during the greatest economic drawback since the Great Depression, and weaken political alliances in the midst of two theaters of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a drone campaign in Pakistan. America no longer has the political or economic hegemony needed to dictate our military objectives to foreign powers. Our policy of nuclear deterrence is simply unsustainable; this is not cock-eyed idealism, but cold-eyed pragmatism.


[i] Bruno, Greg, Iran’s Nuclear Program, Council on Foreign Relations, September 29, 2009, available at http://www.cfr.org/publication/16811/

[ii] Krieger, Hillary Leila, Senate to Take Up Iran Sanctions in 2010, The Jerusalem Post, December 25, 2009, available at http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1261364498613&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull

[iii] Learsy, Raymond J., With Iran And China On Board Iran Can Now Be Stopped, The Huffington Post, November 29, 2009, available at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/raymond-j-learsy/with-russia-and-china-on_b_373221.html

[iv] CIA World Factbook 2008 available at

[v] Hamdan, Sara, Payout to Gulf Clients hit by Madoff Fraud, The Nation, March 18, 2009, available at http://www.thenational.ae/article/20090318/BUSINESS/756562619/1041/LETTERS

[vi] Collard, Timothy, America owes China two trillion dollars. But what does that mean? The Telegraph, September 24, 2009, available at http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/timcollard/100011049/america-owes-china-two-trillion-dollars-but-what-does-that-mean/

[vii] Harrell, Eben, What To Do About Europe’s Secret Nukes, Time Online, December 30, 2009, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/19/us/politics/19nuke.html?_r=2

[viii] Does N. Korea’s Taepodong-2 Ballistic Missile Pose a Serious Threat? Voice of America, May 14, 2009, available at http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/a-13-2009-05-14-voa45-68802087.html

[ix] Vick, Charles P., No-Dong-a, Ghauri-II, & Shahab-3 Technical Data, February 15, 2007, article available at GlobalSecurity.org  http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/dprk/nd-a-specs.htm

[x] Soldatkin, Vladimir, Exclusive: Russia to Start Iran Nuclear Plant in 2010, Reuters, November 30, 2009 available at http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5AT32H20091130

[xi] Arkin, William, Not Just A Last Resort, The Washington Post, May 15, 2005, available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/14/AR2005051400071.html

[xii] Butcher, Martin, It’s Official-German Coalition Wants US Nukes Out, October 25, 2009, available at The NATO Monitor blog http://natomonitor.blogspot.com/2009/10/its-official-german-coalition-wants-us.html

[xiii] Obama Shelves Europe Missile Plan, September 17, 2009, available at BBC News Online http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8260230.stm

[xiv] For more notable signatories, see the Global Zero Campaign website, available at http://www.globalzero.org/full-list-signatories

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