Though I often disagree with Yossi Melman’s analysis on Israeli security issues, he nevertheless manages to produce reporting that is independent of the group-think that afflicts many, if not most Israeli journalists. He’s done that in his most recent piece analyzing Iran’s nuclear program and intentions. Despite his loyalty to the State and its security interests, he is willing to expose the fallibility of the official line concerning Iran. Here is an example:
Israel and the United States have been waging a covert and overt rearguard battle to disrupt and delay Iran’s nuclear program for decades. The toolbox used in this war, according to different reports, has included blowing up facilities and equipment, assassinating scientists, cyberwarfare, diplomacy, and sanctions that are badly hurting the Iranian economy. Yet despite all the difficulties in its path, Iran has not really been deterred and has continued to pursue its nuclear program, adjusting its pace to the circumstances.
Yet perhaps it’s time to change the [consensus] conception that Iran aspires to assemble nuclear weapons at all costs. A glance at the history of nuclear weapons manufacture shows that all 11 countries that wished to build bombs did so within three to 10 years. These include the five major powers; Israel (according to foreign reports); India; Pakistan; and North Korea. Two countries, South Africa and Ukraine, voluntarily dismantled their nuclear weapons. It’s hard to work out why Iran, which has extensive scientific knowhow, which surreptitiously obtained nuclear technology, and whose scientists and universities are at quite a high level, has faced difficulties in building a bomb in 30 years.
Maybe it’s time to infer that Iran could have assembled nuclear bombs long ago, but is not doing so – for its own reasons.
Though he may seem to be stating the obvious, it can’t be repeated enough for the sake of the Iran hawks: you can’t stop a country that is hellbent on developing a nuclear capability. Unless of course, you’re prepared to invade it and overthrow the ruling regime. You couldn’t even destroy the nuclear program if you attacked it militarily. This would force delays, but where there is a will there will always be a way. Damage can be repaired. Murdered scientists can be replaced.
But anyone who claims Iran has a weapon, is intending to produce one, or is determined to use one is not only wrong, but likely to produce the very war that all profess not to want.
The only way to really stop such a program would be to re-engage with Iran, to recognize its legitimate role and interests in the region, to cease the unending vitriol spewing forth from Sunni regimes, the U.S. and Israel. This would convince Iran that it didn’t need such weaponry to defend itself. Of course, this is the opposite of what these players are doing. Hence Iran will continue to perfect its nuclear program, short of producing an actual weapon. As Melman writes:
…We must also acknowledge that Iran wants to become a nuclear threshold state, and for now is still extremely mixed over whether to build a nuclear bomb.
The second-half of this statement is actually wrong. Iran is not “mixed” at all over whether to build a bomb. Not only has the Grand Ayatollah issued a fatwa against such weaponry, Iran has repeatedly said it would not do so, and has not done so. Furthermore, anti-Iran “experts” have been falsely predicting Iran’s imminent acquisition of a bomb for 35 years.
What may be true, is that Iran wants to be in a position, if it is attacked and existentially threatened, to be able to assemble such a weapon in a limited period of time. This is precisely what Israel actually did in 1967, when it produced its first nuclear weapon as a Doomsday device in the event that it fared badly in the Six-Day War.