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Comments on New York Times' "Islam, Terror and the Second Nuclear Age"

By Daniel M Pourkesali


Dear Editor at New York Times,

The writer of the following article makes several presumptions which have been promoted by the Israeli government and its hard-line supporters both in the UN and the Bush administration.

Islam, Terror and the Second Nuclear Age
By Noah Feldman, New York Times, October 29 2006
For nearly 50 years, worries about a nuclear Middle East centered on Israel. Arab leaders resented the fact that Israel was the only atomic power in the region, a resentment heightened by America’s tacit approval of the situation. But they were also pretty certain that Israel (which has never explicitly acknowledged having nuclear weapons) would not drop the bomb except as a very last resort.

First that Iran's nuclear energy program is merely a cover for perfecting their nuclear weapon production capability and the anti-Israel statements of the Iranian president is proof that they're intent on destroying Israel.

Second, Israel may possess several hundred nuclear warheads, but since they have not used them offensively against their neighbors then they can be trusted with such weapons.    

And finally, even if Iran does not use its future atomic bombs against Israel, the sheer possession of such weapons by a Shiite non-Arab state will usher a new arms race among the Arab states in the region as they fear Iran might use those nukes against them.

All of the above assumptions by the author who is a Law Professor at New York University are problematic and would not hold up in a court of law where a guilty verdict can not be paseed on mere future intents. Thus, absent any corroborating hard evidence provided by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the charge that Iran's nuclear energy program is being used as cover for weapons program would be immediately dismissed.

As for the logic used in the second supposition, we must conclude that a country's offensive use of nukes should disqualify it from ever being allowed to possess such weapons. That will immediately disqualify the United States as the only country meeting that criterion and one that is actively and openly seeking to develop a new generation of mini-nukes in clear violation of the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).    

A more plausible explanation for Israel's restraint is that the benefits of deterrence factor outweigh the catastrophic backlash of actual use of such weapons.   A much better indicator of future hostile intentions is a country's past behavior.  Iran has not attacked any of its neighbors in the last 250 years, and does not occupy any other country's territory. On the other hand, several of the regional states including Pakistan, India, and Israel already possess nuclear weapons and none have signed the NPT. In the case of the latter, Israel has attacked all of its neighbors including Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Jordan and continues to occupy parts of Lebanon, Syria, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip today.

The last assumption that Iran's hypothetical possession of such weapons in the future will trigger a new arms race in the region is also flawed because Iran is not seen as a threat and has maintained peaceful relations with all its neighbors for over 2 centuries except for a short period between 1980-1988 when it was attacked and invaded by Saddam Hussein forces in a bid to take advantage of the post revolution disarray and obtain control of the oil rich southwestern part of that country.   Again if past behavior is a good indicator of future actions, Iran's restraint to respond in kind to Saddam use of chemical weapons on innocent Iranian civilians during that bloody and costly war should be self evident.      

As Iran continues to meet its obligations under the NPT, the hard-liners in the Bush administration aided by their media propagandists like Mr. Feldman are working hard to manufacture a phony crisis and scare the unsuspecting public in preparation for another pre-emptive strike against a sovereign nation's nuclear industry which is fully monitored by the IAEA.


Daniel M Pourkesali
Leesburg, Virginia


... Payvand News - 10/31/06 ... --

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