September 29, 2009

On Iran and Nuclear Warheads

While I worked in Arms Control (1996 - 1999) we saw both India and Pakistan become nuclear states. I do understand that it was probably my fault, I didn't work hard enough.

That said, these are two countries that are next door to one another and have active conflict in border areas nevermind having had all out slugfests in the not-too-distant past. In doing so, these countries took on significant budget-burdens in maintenance, security, etc. but also seemed to end up better off in the international scene when all was said and done.

Now Iran... Iran is believed to be developing nuclear weapons, and I'm sure I can get with that assessment. But their neighbor Israel is widely believed by experts to have upwards of 50 nuclear weapons (and some think the number may be in the hundreds). I saw these numbers from experts (the Arms Control Association where I worked, but also at other reputable institutions like the Federation of American Scientists).

Meanwhile, while Iran was party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which aims to limit the spread of nuclear weapons (though they have violated it in the past and probably are now), Israel has never even signed on to the treaty and maintains complete international opacity as to what they are holding. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? I won't pretend to know.

So why isn't there a diplomatic option to pursue here that includes Israel signing the NPT and disarming? They've signed non-nuclear weapons pacts in the past, but let's face it, if a country ever got into a situation where they thought they needed to employ such weapons all those pacts would go out the window in the blink of an eye.

I understand that Israel is a much closer ally than anyone involved in the India-Pakistan situation at the time (though that nuclear stuff does tend to have widespread effects you know), and that warrants a much stepped up response in comparison... but it just seems like such an easy solution. "I'll disarm if you'll disarm." "I'll subject to international monitoring if you'll subject to international monitoring."

I'm pretty sure we have a strong enough relationship with Israel that they fall under the aegis of our nuclear deterrent and don't really need to fret carrying this on their own. And they seem to lose a lot more by Iran having weapons like that than gain by keeping a hold of their own.

I know this is quite a random post compared to what usually occupies this space. I feel my past rearing on up. I'm hoping a pretty picture I took in Adams Morgan helps to mitigate any jarring.