Should Iran have Nuclear Weapons?

by B. R. Gowani

It’s a very patronizing and hypocritical question. But that is exactly what has been happening because Israel and some Western countries, particularly The United States, have accused Iran that its nuclear program is not for peaceful purposes but rather geared towards developing nuclear weapons. The US and Israel hold a grudge against Iran since 1979 when their friend, the Shah of Iran, was forced to abdicate his throne in the wake of the Islamic Revolution, whose leader was the fiery Ayatollah Khomeini.

Only recently, the Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton played the same old tune: “There’s nothing more important than trying to convince Iran to cease its efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon.” As was expected, Barak Obama’s style is gentlemanly and the talk is diplomatic, but the essence of the foreign policy is basically a continuation of the previous administration. The minor changes one observes in his administration is that he conveyed the Nauroz or New Year greetings to Iran on March 21 and has announced his government’s intention to fully participate, along with Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia, in any future negotiations with Iran.

As a sovereign country, however, Iran has every right to plan and implement its defense policy as it perceives necessary. Despite the fabricated stories by the Western media about Iran’s belligerent nature and the extreme threat it could pose to its neighbors if it is successful in developing the nuclear weapons, the question needs to be raised is: Does Iran needs nuclear weapons for its own defense?

The Taliban Threat

Let us cross the Iranian border and see the neighboring countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The initial phase of the US war against Afghanistan was a fury of revenge. But when many of the Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters crossed over into the border areas of Pakistan, things changed. Now they were not only defending themselves from the US onslaught, but also started to attack the US; they too wanted to expand their territorial power. They have succeeded; the tribal areas and other territory of Pakistan have come under their control too. Their power is threatening Pakistan’s sovereignty, can they invade Iran? If Pakistan as a country disappears from the world map, it is difficult to predict who will inherit what parts of it. The US war on terror entered a new phase when it realized the growing power of Taliban in Pakistan. The US does not want the WMDs (weapons of mass destruction) to fall into the hands of the Taliban in case they acquire power in Pakistan. But Iran is very aware of the hatred and intolerance the Sunni Taliban have for them. There is a distinct and real possibility that their Shia door will be the next place the Taliban may attack.

Who should worry?

In the event the Taliban become rulers of Pakistan with the nuclear button underneath their finger, then if there is any country on this planet that has to fear its sovereignty the most, it is not the US, not even Israel or India. It is Iran. Taliban are cruel and inhumane; but they are not stupid. All these countries have WMDs and so attacking them would be an invitation to self-annihilation. The maximum range of Pakistan’s nuclear missiles is 4,000 kilometers or about 2,500 miles. (The distance between Pakistan’s capital Islamabad and the US capital Washington, DC is about 8,000 miles). Iran is within this range and in clear danger of being hit and should be really worried about the Taliban coming to power.

Another reason Iran must be worried is that its Shia Muslims are a minority in the Muslim world. (Shias make up about 15% and the Sunnis about 85% of the over 1 billion Muslims worldwide; both of them have many sub-sects.) Although, Hindus, Jews, Christians, Bahais, and other non-Muslims may be infidels for the militant Muslims, and many of them do suffer as minorities in countries with Muslim majority, it is the Muslim minorities within Islam that are targeted quite often by the Sunni Muslim militants because Taliban are Sunnis. (They do harass Sunni moderates but it is the Shias who they are really after.)

A word of advise for the US

It is painful but also very difficult to step down, or be pushed down, from the zenith of power. The reality, nevertheless, has to be confronted; the US is losing its traditional power with all its economic and other problems; and the emergence of China and India as the potential new powers with the growing role of Russia as a major player on the world scene. The US has to accept the fact that Iran is on the path to develop the nuclear weapons despite the denials by its leaders. It is going to change the balance of power: there will be two nuclear powers, Iran and Israel who already possesses hundreds of weapons. And more countries are going to go the nuclear way.

Another option for the US is to initiate a move to make this planet a nuclear weapons free zone while it still is known as the Super Power. (It does not mean that the US or any other country should be allowed to transfer or build nuclear weapons on other planets or our Moon.)

B. R. Gowani can be reached at

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