Opinion IranMapNukes

Published on October 29th, 2012

7

Why Iran Should Not Get the Nuclear Bomb

By Joachim Vogt Isaksen

In this issue Popular Social Science covers the ongoing debate around Iran´s aspirations to develop nuclear weapons. Concerns have been raised around possible consequences of the scenario of a new nuclear power in the Middle East, and Professor Kenneth Waltz argues in this summer´s issue of Foreign Affairs that there are rational arguments for the support of Iran´s nuclear ambitions.

He states that this would probably be the best possible result and the one most likely to restore stability in the Middle East, by endorsing the balance of power. Waltz has earlier argued that nuclear weapons is the most valuable deterrence weapons ever invented, and that their spread would make major wars considerably less likely.

Waltz is one of the major figures within international relations, but on this occasion he is not only wrong but he is also morally irresponsible. Recommending the spread of mass destructive weapons could never be justified, and leaving nuclear weapons in the hands of dictators such as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may be one of the world’s worst ideas right now.

Ahmadinejad has become publicly infamous for his open disregard of the UN Security Council on the nuclear issue, his brutal oppression of his own Iranian citizens, his speeches regarding Jews and the state of Israel, and his political visions of Iran as a future dominant power in the Middle East. As late as the 24th of September this year he stated that Israel “has no roots in the Middle East and would be eliminated”.

Recommending that irresponsible and repressive leaders should get the nuclear bomb is as reckless as if Churchill had allowed Hitler to get the bomb for “peace balancing” reasons. Following Waltz`s logic one would assume that if nuclear weapons make nations more peaceful, then every nation should have them as a lasting guarantee to peace.

Taking his conclusion to the extremes would mean that one could argue that there would be a decrease in the threat of terrorism if one allowed Al-Qaeda and other violent terrorist groups to acquire nuclear weapons.

Allowing even more nations to develop the most deadly and destructive weapon ever invented will not make the world more secure and peaceful. Some argue that since nuclear weapons have not been used during the last 65 years it proves their stabilizing effect. But still one need not go longer back than to the Cuban crisis where later released historical evidence shows that it was only by chance that nuclear war did not occur.

Kennedy, Khrusjtsjov, and Castro were all rational individuals who did not want this outcome, but following a series of misunderstandings it was after all luck that prevented nuclear war from taking place. People often seem to forget or simply deny that the same risk also exists today. With history still in mind it is of great importance to be reminded that humanitarian considerations and human security should be of a higher concern than short-term security policy advice.

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7 Responses to Why Iran Should Not Get the Nuclear Bomb

  1. Knut says:

    “Taking his conclusion to the extremes would mean that one could argue that there would be a decrease in the threat of terrorism if one allowed Al-Qaeda and other violent terrorist groups to acquire nuclear weapons.”

    This is not a logical extension of Waltz’s argument. Waltz (and realists more generally) separates between states and non-state actors, and it’s a qualitative difference rather than one of degree.

    Other than that, I agree with the general message (i.e. Iran getting nukes is probably not a great idea). I do think Waltz and most realists might be right about a nuclear Iran fostering regional stability in the short term (as well as it reducing any chances of more “popular uprisings,” but then again, “moral responsibility” has never been the focus of realists), but as for what happens if a nuclear state disintegrates, the attempt to downplay the potential catastrophe has been less than convincing.

  2. Thank you for contributing to the debate. I agree with your remarks. We in Popular Social Science strongly believe thet we also have a “watch dog” function when it comes to social science. Kenneth Waltz made it very clear what his position was, and that is the reason why I wrote this piece. We consider it to be a problem if academics get lost in their thoughts and reading, and loose their grip on reality.

  3. M. Clark says:

    I quote:

    “Recommending the spread of mass destructive weapons could never be justified, and leaving nuclear weapons in the hands of dictators such as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may be one of the world’s worst ideas right now”.

    The author here reveals his lack of understanding of a basic concept such as “dictator”, which most social scientists as well as informed laymen understands to mean ‘absolute ruler’. People who have followed Iranian politics for some time knows that Ahmedinejad by now has reached the end of his second term in office and is barred from running for the presidency in 2013. Some of his associates have recently been persecuted, and even jailed, by forces associated with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Have someone ever experienced a dictator who is not only forced to step down after two terms in office but whose closest allies become subject to persecution towards the end of his already fixed maximum period of time in office?

    To be sure: This is not a defense of Ahmedinejad, whose inflammatory rhetoric has done nothing to help the stability of the Middle East. It is just an appeal for more factual and informed contributions that reflect an understanding of basic social scientific concepts, and in this case, the power structures of Iranian politics.

    • YNWA says:

      Maybe the author is more concerned about giving nuclear weapons to one of the worst countries besides North Korea than what the correct definition of what a dictator is….but then again….maybe it´s just me who is missing the point of this article…

      Best regards
      Jens Wik (3 vekttall i sosiologi)

      • M. Clark says:

        I’ll try to respond without addressing your course misrepresentation of my opinions regarding this issue. In fact, the only opinion I expressed was that a social science journal (popular or not) should observe high standards when it comes to applying the concepts of political science.

        Like the author of the article you’re obviously in the business of setting up a stop sign for Iranian nuclear weapons and that’s understandable for a number of reasons.The real challenge is to explain how such an outcome in the long run can be prevented without turning the region into a disaster zone in the process. This is the original challenge raised by Kenneth Waltz. It would probably require in the excess of three university credits to respond to it.

  4. british says:

    Howdy We all simply love your splendid article many thanks and please maintain the ball coming

  5. How can I says:

    An additional great update.

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