A Reuters story in the National Post (23 March)indicates that various intelligence sources “agree” that Iran does not have “the bomb”, may not even want one, and in any event is years away from developing a deliverable weapon.
In the context of recent talk about pre-emptive strikes this relaxed position seems to be predicated largely on “what would the Ayatollah do” in this situation.
Iran Does Not Have a Nuclear Weapon
Let’s have a look at the points of agreement. First, it is agreed that Iran does not have a nuclear bomb now. That’s pretty believable. If it did, this preeminent state-sponsor of terror would likely be poised to use it, perhaps in Afghanistan arming some self-immolating primitive against representatives of the Great Satan, or by launching a nuclear-armed missile at Israel.
However, the same intelligence sources acknowledge that Iran has enriched uranium to a degree far beyond what is necessary for claimed peaceful purposes such as medical research and generating energy. This leaves aside the anomaly that Iran is an economic basket case that delivers poor quality services including medicine. It also stretches the bounds of credulity that a nation containing vast reserves of petroleum energy would expend scarce resources chasing nuclear power. Iran has yet to develop domestic refining capability for petroleum and must import refined products such as gasoline.
The intelligence sources have also discovered in the past that Iran was working on the technical aspects of building a nuclear warhead which would utilize the fissionable material necessary to create the bomb.
So all we know is that Iran does not technically have the bomb yet, though it has been trying hard.
Iran is Years Away From Having a Nuclear Weapon
I would not take a lot of solace in the fact that some intelligence sources say Iran is years away from success.
If there is one thing that collectivist, dictatorial regimes can excel at it is death and destruction. It is far less challenging than living by your own resourcefulness and respecting the natural right of others to do the same.
Iran May Not Want a Nuclear Weapon
The most banal observation yet has to be that Iran may not want a bomb.
The story reports that “A crucial unknown is the intentions of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei”. Setting aside the obvious point that no one can know another’s intentions, this is the same Ayatollah who in 2001 was quoted as saying, of Israel “…this cancerous tumour of a state should be removed from the region…” In 2009 he stated that “… the Zionist cancer is gnawing into the lives of Islamic nations.”
While he has obliquely disavowed President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s famous remarks that Israel should be “…wiped off the map,” it is a challenge to favourably parse his own statements about cancerous tumours in the same context.
What Would the Ayatollah Do?
In the end, it is more important to note what actors do than what they say. There is clear evidence that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons capability despite the rhetoric of its leaders and the apparent wishful thinking of some western intelligence sources.
The west should not be granting moral equivalency to this evil regime and bargaining with it. Iran steals a point the day that happens. The proper action is to steadfastly gather intelligence about Iran’s actions to the best of western capability and not enter into wasteful concessionary discussions. It is not a moral equal and should not be granted that status by its sworn enemies.
Finally, if intelligence sources indicate that a “clear and present danger” exists, the full power of military might should be directed at neutralizing the threat, without apology for collateral damage.
What would the Ayatollah do, indeed?
©Copyright 2012 Edward Podritske