Monday, September 19, 2005

More bang for your buck

I've just switched on the computer to write about Iran, North Korea, and nuclear proliferation. It's a good thing I've installed the BBC News Alert service because it appears that there's been a significant development in the negotiations with North Korea. This looks like excellent news. A round of applause for the negotiators is probably in order. I'd like to see a bit more detail of what's actually been agreed before commenting further. Definitely looks promising though.

So what about Iran then? President Ahmadinejad seems determined to press ahead with Iran's nuclear programme. He maintains that it's for entirely peaceful purposes. In the near future it's not hard to imagine Blair calling for action while pedalling "extensive, detailed and authoritative" intelligence on Iran's dangerous nuclear weapons programme. I doubt many people will believe him, whether it's true or not. Having a proven liar as a leader is generally something of a handicap when it comes to issues of national security.

It certainly wouldn't surprise me if Iran does intend to develop a covert weapons programme. From the perspective of the Iranian government, it's about the most rational thing they could do. They've just had a perfect demonstration as to how ineffective their defenses would be if the US, most probably along with a few willing allies, ever decided to invade Iran. They must be extremely concerned for their national security and they know they can never compete militarily with the US (and friends). The only possible way they can deter such an invasion is with nuclear weapons.

North Korea is demonstrating the advantages of a such an approach. There was no talk of an invasion of N. Korea, it would have been far to messy. The N. Koreans were able to negotiate from a position of relative strength (this is also partly because of their massive army). There's no doubt that many incentives will have been secured from the US government along with the non-agression declaration. Does Iran wants a piece of that action? It'd make a lot more sense than just sitting around wondering whether the Whitehouse has you in their sights.

But the reality is that almost no-one knows whether the Iranians intend to build nuclear weapons. President Ahmadinejad says not. Let's hope he's telling the truth.

The signs are not promising. As Jack Straw said, the President's comments were " disappointing and unhelpful". He even had the audacity to accuse the nuclear powers of double standards. What a ridiculous notion. Just because the nuclear powers show absolutely no intention of honouring their commitment to disarmament as agreed in the NPT, just because we never talk about Israel's nuclear weapons, just because Pakistan is now an ally so their nuclear weapons are OK too, just because the US is the only nation ever to have actually dropped an atomic bomb on actual people... Double standards? What is the man thinking?

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