Who would still bomb Iran? Someone not in touch with reality

True Majority has collected direct quotes from presidential candidates about who would still bomb Iran now that our own intelligence community has compiled a wide swath of information that indicates Iran does not appear to be pursuing nuclear weapons at this time. (The True Majority report requires that you confirm that you really are a member before you read their information — but they are well worth joining.)

Even if Iran were developing nuclear weapons, who are we to deny them? We maintain a stockpile of over 5,000 nuclear weapons, and we are the only country that has ever dropped a nuclear weapon on another country (two nuclear bombs, on civilians). We have so many nuclear weapons, that we can even loose track of some… as happened this past summer, when we misplaced six nuclear-armed cruise missiles for a day.

I hope that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons, but no matter what, it is an illogical and hypocritical reason to threaten military action. I’m hoping that they don’t develop nuclear weapons because there are too many nuclear weapons in the world already. Here’s a chart of the nuclear-armed countries compiled by the Center for Defense Information:

Country

Suspected Strategic Nuclear Weapons

Suspected Non-Strategic
Nuclear Weapons

Suspected Total Nuclear Weapons

China

130-200

120

~250-320

France

350

0

350

India

50

?

50+?

Israel

100-200

?

100-200?

North Korea (DPRK) 5-12 0 5-12**

Pakistan

40-70

?

40-70

Russia

~3,300-3,400

~3,000-8,000

~7,200*

United Kingdom

180 -200

5

180-200

United States (PDF)

5,236

~500

~5,736

* Together, the Russian and American arsenals have been estimated to equal 26,000 warheads. This number is in stark contrast to the number of warheads reported under each country’s responsibility to the START II agreement. This is due to a large number of warheads on responsive reserve.

** The total number of North Korean nuclear weapons is based on the amount of weapons possible with the amount of weapons grade plutonium estimated on hand. The exact number is unknown.

Well, gosh… here’s something interesting about the list — North Korea and Pakistan are on it! Speaking of countries whose actions are very dangerous and concerning… North Korea is ruled by a dictator whose rule has led to the deaths of many thousands of his people (much like the former ruler of Iraq). North Korea has definitely been a nuclear threat…. But, over the last year, we have talked them down from the ledge, not by threatening to invade but by offering them aid and improved diplomatic relations.

Pakistan is suspected of harboring Al Quaeda training camps (much like Afghanistan), and well, let’s see, is a military dictatorship… and they have nuclear weapons too. Yet this administration doesn’t threaten to bomb either of them the way that we have Iran and Iraq (prior to our 2003 invasion, Rumsfeld refused to rule out the use of nuclear weapons against Iraq).

It’s glaring on this chart that the two countries we have invaded during this administration are both not on this list of nuclear-armed countries, given the prominence of nuclear weapons talk (“WMD!s WMD!s”) when the Bush administration wants to justify invading a country. So if you were a small country and not on the good side of this administration, would you maybe think about developing nuclear capability? Yes, that’s an unfortunate reality.

William Langewiesche’s excellent book Atomic Bazaar describes how we have set ourselves up by creating such an imbalance between our nuclear capabilities and that of the rest of the world, in a time when nuclear weapons are the great military equalizer between countries. Nuclear weapons deliver a lot of destruction for their relative size and investment, and have a significant deterrent effect on other countries. (Think for a moment… if Iraq really did have nuclear weapons in 2003, would it have made sense to invade the country and risk a launch against us?)

All a country (or a political group) needs is one nuclear weapon to be able to inflict significant loss of American life. The knowledge that another country could strike back and inflict significant damage does seem to have somewhat of a pacifying effect on us… it is completely logical that a country would pursue nuclear weaponry as a means of preventing our invasion.

And yet, even in the face of that grim reality, our government’s assessment is that Iran is probably not pursuing nuclear weapons. My concern is that we will we compel them into it by continuing to threaten Iran with military action.

Until we completely renounce our own development and deployment of nuclear weapons, it is hypocritical and irrational for us to expect the rest of the world to reject nuclear weapons. Any candidate who thinks that threatening to invade countries based on this “if you have don’t have nuclear weapons and try to acquire them, we’ll invade you first” argument isn’t going to get my vote.

So be sure to read what presidential candidates have to say, and tell them to stop talking about invading Iran — before we compel even more countries to try and acquire nuclear weapons to protect themselves from us. That’s a does of reality that this election could use.

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