Why shouldn't Iran have nuclear weapons?
Israel has American warheads ready to fire
Iranians see only hypocrisy from the world's nuclear powers
By James C Moore
-- -- As international political powers seek
Iran's capitulation on nuclear weapons development, little
notice is given to what the Americans and the British have done
to create this crisis nor what steps the Israelis might
eventually take to make it profoundly more complicated.
Iran's antipathy toward the West did not spontaneously generate
out of the crazed rhetoric of radical mullahs. It has been
spurred by what Iranians see as hypocrisy on the part of members
of the world's nuclear community, and the bumbled meddling of
the US and UK in Iranian affairs for more than a half century.
Iran is dangerous, but the British and the Americans have helped
to make it that way. And the situation is even more precarious
than it appears.
Shortly after the Gulf War in 1991, Germany gave Israel two of
its diesel-powered Dolphin-class submarines. The Israelis agreed
to purchase a third at a greatly reduced price. In November
2005, Germany announced that it was selling two more subs to
Israel for $1.2bn (£660m).
Defence analysts have suggested the Dolphin-class boats are a
means for Israel to have a second-strike capability from the sea
if any of its land-based defence systems are hit by enemy
nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive
war is geopolitically afoot: Israel and the American president
might not be willing to wait until after the first shot is
Initially, Israel was expected to arm its submarine fleet with
its own short-range Popeye missiles carrying conventional
warheads. At least three mainstream publications in the US and
Germany, however, have confirmed the vessels have been fitted
with US-made Harpoon missiles with nuclear tips. Each
Dolphin-class boat can carry 24 missiles.
Although Israel has not yet taken delivery of the two new
submarines, the three presently in its fleet have the potential
to launch 72 Harpoons. Stratfor, a Texas intelligence business,
claims the Harpoons are designed to seek out ship-sized targets
on the sea but could be retrofitted with a different guidance
According to independent military journalist Gordon Thomas, that
has already happened. He has reported the Harpoons were equipped
with "over the horizon" software from a US manufacturer to make
them suitable for attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities. Because
the shallow waters of the Persian Gulf make the Israeli subs
easily detectable, two of them are reported to be patrolling the
deeper reaches of the Gulf of Oman, well within range of Iranian
If Israel has US nuclear weaponry pointed at Iran, the position
of the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, becomes
more politically supportable by his people. Despite the fact
that Israel has been developing nuclear material since 1958, the
country has never formally acknowledged it has a nuclear
arsenal. Analysts have estimated, however, that Israel is the
fifth-largest nuclear power on the planet with much of its
delivery systems technology funded by US taxpayers. To
complicate current diplomatic efforts, Israel, like Pakistan and
India, has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
even as it insists in the international discourse that Iran be
stopped from acquiring what Israel already has.
Before Ariel Sharon's health failed, Der Speigel reported that
the then Israeli prime minister had ordered his country's Mossad
intelligence service to go into Iran and identify nuclear
facilities to be destroyed. Journalist Seymour Hersh has also
written that the US military already has teams inside Iran
picking targets and working to facilitate political unrest. It
is precisely this same type of tactic by the US and the UK, used
more than a half century ago, which has led us to the
contemporary nuclear precipice.
In 1953, Kermit Roosevelt led the CIA overthrow of Mohamed
Mossadeq, Iran's democratic- ally elected prime minister.
Responding to a populace that had grown restive under
imperialist British influence, Mossadeq had plans to nationalise
the vast oil fields of his country.
At the prompting of British intelligence, the CIA executed
strategic bombings and political harassments of religious
leaders, which became the foundation of Mossadeq's overthrow.
Shah Reza Pahlevi, whose strings were pulled from Downing Street
and Washington, became a brutal dictator who gave the
multinational oil companies access to Iranian reserves. Over a
quarter of a century later, the Iranian masses revolted, tossed
out the Shah, and empowered the radical Ayatollah Khomeini.
Iran has the strength needed to create its current stalemate
with the West. Including reserves, the Iranian army has 850,000
troops - enough to deal with strained American forces in Iraq,
even if US reserves were to be deployed. The Iranians also have
North Korean surface-to-air missiles with a 1,550-mile range and
able to carry a nuclear warhead.
America cannot invade and occupy. Iran's response would likely
be an invasion of southern Iraq, populated, as is Iran, with
Shias who could be enlisted to further destabilise Iraq. There
are also reported to be thousands of underground nuclear
facilities and uranium gas centrifuges in Iran, and it is
impossible for all of them to be eliminated. But the Israelis
might be willing to try. An Israeli attack on Iran would give
Bush some political cover at home. The president could continue
to argue that Israel has a right to protect itself.
But what if Israeli actions endanger America? Israel cannot
attack without the US being complicit. Israeli jets would have
to fly through Iraqi air space, which would require US
permission. And America's Harpoon missiles would be delivering
the warheads. These would blow up Iranian nuclear facilities and
also launch an army of Iranian terrorists into the Western
But George Bush is still without a respectable presidential
legacy. He might be willing to risk everything to mark his place
in history as the man who stopped Iran from getting nukes. The
greater fear, though, is that he becomes the first person to
pull the nuclear trigger since Hiroshima and Nagasaki - and then
his place in the history books will be assured.
James C Moore is the author of three books about the Bush
administration. His latest, 'The Architect', will be published
in September by Random House of New York
Independent News and Media Limited
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