Iran at the precipice

Iran at the precipice

By Jonathan Power

July 24, 2019

There’s never been a full-scale war between two nuclear-armed states. If Iran one day did cross the nuclear threshold the same deterrence will apply. No one rational would want to provoke their own incineration.

Columbia University professor, Kenneth Waltz, the distinguished theorist on the conduct of war, wrote in Foreign Affairs that with Israel possessing over 200 nuclear weapons (which the US refuses to publically admit) Iran having a bomb would bring stability.

I would never go as far as Waltz on that last point. The launch of nuclear weapons can always be done by accident or by the rogue action of one or two of the members of the launch team in the silo.

It has nearly happened in the US a number of times, and probably in the Soviet Union too. Moreover, if Iran got really close to building a bomb, Saudi Arabia would follow in short order, and perhaps Egypt too somewhat later. That would really be Iran cutting off its nose to spite its face.

arguments between Iran, the US and Europe over the supposed bomb question are
becoming confused. To be frightened or not to be? If clear thinking is not
quickly restored everyone will lose out.

When President Barack Obama and his team successfully negotiated a long-term freeze in Iran’s nuclear research a milestone in international cooperation on nuclear proliferation was passed.

Russia and China joined the EU and the US as negotiating partners and made a unanimous front when presenting the agreement to the UN Security Council for approval.

Donald Trump unilaterally upended this soon after taking office. In breaking apart a deal approved by the Security Council he broke international law.

The recent UK ambassador to the US, Kim Darroch, reckoned Trump’s primary motivation was not US security or anything of that ilk but was purely motivated by a gut hatred of Obama.

Now the old untruths that were churned out by the Republicans and the Israelis during the Obama-era negotiations are being recycled.

They predicted during the 1990s that Iran would have nuclear weapons by 2000. Then the estimated date was bumped up to 2005. Then to 2015. Now some are saying next year.

The CIA, for its part, has never put its name to these Iranian estimates. Apparently it still thinks that the probability is that Iran was never building a bomb.

They would have been better to focus on Brazil, now led by the extreme right wing nationalist, Jair Bolsonaro, who has close ties with the military, which is now engaged in enriching uranium to 90%, suitable for nuclear bombs, as against Iran’s just announced 5%, suitable for its Bushehr civilian power reactor and a long way from what is necessary to build a bomb.

Brazil needs this high degree of enrichment to fuel its new nuclear submarine, but it could easily be diverted to build a bomb.

There’s a danger, once removed but now back in circulation, that this negative attitude towards Iran could result in a self-fulfilling prophecy, especially if it leads to a military attack.

As two former US National Security Advisors to the president, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, have written, “a military attack by Israel or the US “would significantly increase Iran’s motivation to build a bomb.”

An attack “would also increase the recruiting ability of radical Islamist groups, including Al Qaeda and ISIS.”

Trump want to attack Iran or not? Last month US planes were within ten minutes
of bombing Iran before he had a last minute change of mind and called off the

The last few days some smoke has been thrown into the air with the somewhat autonomous Iranian Revolutionary Guards seizing a British-owned ship steaming through the Persian Gulf.

Wisely, on the eve of a change in its leadership, the UK is not upping the ante with threats of retaliation. Trump has been careful not to get out in front of the British.

Nevertheless, these incidents go to show how a gunpowder trail can easily be laid. Meanwhile, the American sanctions that were supposed to be lifted because of the Obama agreement are being tightened.

Iran is suffering, especially the poor. Similar sanctions when used against the Iraq of Saddam Hussein resulted in over 30,000 children dying, according to UNICEF.

There are some hints that Trump wants to act as he has with North Korea- jump straight to the top of Iran’s decision making tree and make his own deal.

Never mind that a new deal might only have cosmetic changes, it would enable him to claim he had got a better deal than Obama. He did this with the North American Free Trade Area agreement.

it all a fuss about nothing? Only those who live inside Trump’s head know the
answer. In this case he is truly master of the universe.

Copyright: Jonathan Power.

2 Responses to "Iran at the precipice"

  1. pappagoneemailcom   July 29, 2019 at 12:25 pm

    The hypocrisy of Uk USA IsraHELL fascists and the total unconsciousness used by that rogue evil nations which want again and again came back to exploit Middle East and take whatever them wants also if the owners have the total right to have what is of their total ownership (Oil and territories and influence despite many of them are also 6.000 km away).
    Usa create bases in sovereign territories of Syria one of the most civil country of the world to steal oil, to have bases to use when attack (in every direction) are necessary.
    IsraHELL everyday steal territories to Palestinians (owners from centuries!!!!) or are mantaining Golan for many years under their threats making ethnic cleansing on the people which inhabit Golan from centuries attempting to steal and exploit oil and gas which is total Syrian ownership, and water !!!
    With all that injustices Middle East will fall in a situation ever seen, what happened in past is nothing if we think what can happen in future.
    The hypocrisy and servility of mainstream media is perhaps worsening the situation, people are not stupid, all around the world! and seen what happening in Usa internally we can see for the future something worse of WW1 or WW2 , the implosion of many nations under many injustices that the entities in power will cannot solve what them created in the last centuries, when the measure will be full no army will be able to stabilize the mother of all revolutions, and, I hope, many heads will roll down from capitol hill, in the Thames, in Jerusalem, Brussels, Paris, Ryad, Dubai and even somewhere else, I just hope they will be the right heads. Heads that well deserve this epilogue.
    coming back to nuclear bombs, North Korea opened the way, in a well and right salvation for their sovereign home. Iran MUST save herself by having minimum the same nukes IsraHELL has. And if possible wiping out the worst tyrants of the moment, the Saudis

  2. F Jahanpour   July 26, 2019 at 11:51 am

    I agree that it would be unwise for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons and there is no evidence that she ever tried to get them, but the current imbalance in the Middle East must be put right. Russia got nuclear weapons in response to US nuclear weapons, China got them in response to Russia, India in response to China, Pakistan in response to India, North Korea in response to US nuclear umbrella over South Korea, but Israel introduced nuclear weapons to the Middle East when no other country in the region possessed them. She has used her monopoly of nuclear weapons in the region to act with total impunity towards neighbouring countries. If the West is sincere in not wanting nuclear proliferation it should force Israel (with similar crippling sanctions it has imposed on Iran despite her non-possession of nuclear weapons) to give up her nuclear arsenal and reach an agreement with the Palestinians in keeping with UN Security Council resolutions. In parallel with that, there is a need for a regional non-aggression pact or a new version of OSCE. Otherwise, the current imbalance and consequently instability and threat of war will continue.


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