Viewing Iran's Nuclear Program From a New Perspective


If I can be convinced that something I've previously believed is wrong, I will be one of the first to admit to any short-sightedness in my previous political position. The purpose of this article is largely to provide an alternative perspective on prospective answers to Iran's likely pursuit of the nuclear bomb. And the argument which I am contesting -- interestingly -- will be my own, previously published in The Huffington Post under the title of "The Time for Diplomatic Action in Iran." Additionally, I espoused my support for the former argument in an interview with USAToday.

My former perspective on the mitigation of Iran's nuclear ambitions was influenced heavily by the perspective of Former IAEA Director Hans Blix; the previous argument purports that the most logical way to deal with the Iranian issue is to offer incentives for Iran to convert their enriched uranium to levels which could be used for nuclear power. Ultimately, this would appear to be a simple solution -- Iran would have a huge boost in power, aiding infrastructure and making way for further technological advances. If the international community were to offer nuclear reactors to be used in the power production process, this would be within the rights of a country signed to the non-proliferation treaty; no violations to the NPT would occur, and presumably we'd all live happily ever after.

But Iran's motivation for a nuclear weapon must be observed on a much broader, more philosophical scale.

Scott Sagan of Stanford argues in: "Why Do States Build Nuclear Weapons?: Three Models in Search of a Bomb" that we must consider three crucial things when evaluating a state's pursuit of nuclear weapons -- the state's norms, the state's domestic politics and the state's security concerns. While my previous argument relied heavily on the belief Iran's apparent pursuit of the nuke is based on internal politics -- even going so far to offer a domestically-devised solution -- I would now argue that the security dilemma Iran perceives itself to be in could provide the most beneficial solution.

In line with many former presidents' intentions to reduce nuclear weapons, with some even supporting a global zero, nuclear arms currently in the Middle East should be reduced and, indeed, removed. Iran perceives Israel as a threat. If we are to combine the perspectives two famous neorealists, John Mearsheimer, and a famous constructivist, Robert Jervis, we can produce the argument that Iran perceives that it is threatened by what it believes to be an intrusive state, and this threat is significant as a result of the clear Mearsheimerian belief that all states are constantly clawing for more power and influence.

The answer, therefore, is not necessarily complicated: First, the United States must publicly recognize Israel's nuclear capability. They then must encourage Israel to slowly reduce its nuclear arsenal -- which is in line with the policies of a large majority of the nuclear club, including the United States and, more recently, the European Union -- to zero. This effectively removes Iran's security concern; for good measure, materials for nuclear power could be offered to each of the two countries. With each country's blessing -- and to each country's benefit -- the enrichment of uranium or plutonium for civil use should be supervised by the IAEA.