Iran Pursuing Nuclear Weapons to Safeguard its Security and Establish Deterrence
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WALTZ: Why would Iran want to have nuclear weapons? There are two very simple ways to answer that question. One is by looking at a map. To the east, Iran borders Pakistan and Afghanistan-countries that do not look greatly stable, and countries that might make any neighbor feel uneasy about what is going to happen next. To the west, Iran borders Iraq. And for eight bloody years in the 1980s, Iran fought a war against Iraq and Saddam Hussein.I wonder if Iran really feels more comfortable now that it's not Saddam Hussein but instead the United States who represents the great military force in Iraq. If I were ruling Iran, I certainly wouldn't think this region of the world is safe.Two, if the president of the United States says three countries form an axis of evil-which George Bush said in 2002-and he then proceeds to invade one of them-Iraq-what are Iran and North Korea to think?We talk about dangerous rogue states that are hard to deter. But what state is in fact the biggest rogue state in the world? For countries that think the United States constitutes a threat, how should they react? In effect, there is no way to deter the United States other than by having nuclear weapons. No country can do that conventionally The United States can overwhelm other countries conventionallyIf you were making decisions for Iran, would you say, "We don't want nuclear weapons," or, "Let's do everything we can to get a small number of nuclear weapons and get them just as quickly as we possibly can"? It would be strange if Iran did not strive to get nuclear weapons, and I don't think we have to worry if they do. Because deterrence has worked 100 percent of the time. We can deter small nuclear powersafter all, we have deterred big nuclear powers like the Soviet Union and China. So sleep well.
The primary motivation behind Iran's nuclear weapons program is its desire to defend itself from an attack. It is surrounded on all sides by enemies and has learned from the Iran-Iraq war that WMDs can be decisive in a conflict and from the U.S. invasion of Iraq that mere possesion of a nuclear weapon could deter similar efforts at regime change in Iran.