Is Iran a nuclear threat? According to Israeli journalist Melman and Iranian-born political analyst Javedanfar, the answer is a resounding yes.
Back in Iran’s pro-American and even pro-Israeli days, the Shah Reza Pahlavi had risked alienating both allies by funding an aggressive program to develop nuclear capabilities. Somewhat ironically, when the Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in February 1979, he considered nuclear weapons a symptom of “imperialism and the ‘decadent’ culture of the West.” By the authors’ account, there are many reasons to believe that the ayatollah’s suspicions are no longer shared among the Iranian leadership, and thus many more reasons to be worried. One is that the president, the direct-descendant-of-Mohammad Ahmad Ahmadinejad, has some worrisome ideas, among them a commitment to wiping Israel, the Little Satan, off the face of the earth—he is a Holocaust denier and an ardent opponent of the Great Satan, namely America, though he hates it less than Israel. Considering some of the talk that has been lately emanating from the White House and the fact that American forces are on both flanks, Ahmadinejad may have cause to consider the U.S. “willing to achieve its expansionist goals through the use of brute force.” Given that Israeli leader Ehud Olmert has said that he has received a promise from President Bush that Iran would never be allowed to have nuclear weapons, the authors urge, there is pressing need to negotiate for dismantlement of Iran’s program. The mere existence of those weapons—which, the authors allow, is still conjecture—is no guarantee that the Iranians would use them. “On the surface,” they write in closing, “Iran’s leaders show no mercy and have no inhibitions, but they have occasionally proved to be responsible and even restrained.”
To do otherwise is to invite unsettling scenarios, each carefully considered. Those seeking either peace or regime change will find provocative arguments here.