2003 June 22 Sunday
Overthrow Of Shah May Have Prevented Nuclear Iran

Writing for The New York Times Elaine Sciolino mentions an interesting chapter in Iran's long-running attempt to develop a nuclear weapons delivery capabilities.

In the late 1970's, in fact, Iran and Israel discussed a plan to adapt for Iranian use surface-to-surface missiles that could be fitted with nuclear warheads, according to documents discovered in Tehran after the revolution. The documents described conversations between Israeli and Iranian officials about the plan, which was kept secret from the United States.

So if the monarchy had lasted longer, Iran might have become a nuclear power years ago.

Sciolino seems to bemoan a US policy that is based more on making threats than on negotiation. But threats are themselves a form of negotiation and it is likely that nothing short of very credible threats will dissuade the Mullahs from continuing their nuclear weapons development program. It is not even clear that threats alone will be sufficient regardless of how credible those threats are made to seem.

She then quotes an excerpt of CIA director George Tenet's US Senate Statement DCI's Worldwide Threat Briefing: (my emphasis added)

Although a crisis for the regime might come about were reformers to abandon the government or hardliners to initiate a broad suppression on leading advocates of change, the resulting disorder would do little to alleviate US concern over Iran's international behavior. Conservatives already control the more aggressive aspects of Iranian foreign policy, such as sponsoring violent opposition to Middle East peace.

No Iranian government, regardless of its ideological leanings, is likely to willingly abandon WMD programs that are seen as guaranteeing Iran's security.

The overthrow of the current regime by an uprising may delay Iran's nuclear program for some years. But it is far from clear that such an overthrow would stop it for decades.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 June 22 06:47 PM  US Foreign Weapons Proliferation Control


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