Friday, December 7, 2007

Iran, nukes, and all the rest.

Amidst the ongoing Iran nuclear program controversy, I feel that its my responsibility, as a citizen who does his best to stay educated with regard to all sides of an issue, to toss in my two cents, not to mention a couple of facts. I'll keep the pontification to a minimum here. Let's start with what we know:

1. Already wading chin-deep in the mire of an unpopular, largely unsuccessful and seemingly directionless war, concerns over Iran's nuclear capabilities started to increasingly plague the collective American consciousness, and not without good reason. The nation is home to a large extremist population, and the presidency borders on dictatorship. In other words, potential recipe for disaster.

2. It came out a few days ago that, surprise surprise, Iran suspended its nuclear ambitions sometime in 2003, and has not picked them up since. Democrats hail this information (ironically, as it came from the same source as the bogus Iraq/Al-Quaeda links, as well as the WMDs supposedly held by Hussein) as an "I told you so!" moment, while Republicans maintain (also ironically) that we must "keep the heat on Iran."

3. We know also that Iran is capable of, and continues in, enriching uranium. Some say that this is a definite sign that they are either developing a weapon in secret, or will soon restart an official nuclear program.

4. Tehran states that the enrichment of uranium is intended for energy programs only. We're still not sure what to believe.

Those are the facts, and while we can sit here all day screaming at each other about what Iran's intentions may or may not be, there are a couple of things we need to remember:

1. Iran is not the only country currently with active uranium enrichment programs. Other nations are: China, Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, Russia, Japan, the whole of the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States. Australia, Argentina, and South Africa have stated their intentions to explore the option of such programs.

2. The United States maintains an arsenal of around 9,960 nuclear warheads, about 5,000 of which are currently active, with the remainder sitting in usable reserve.

3. In 2006, the Bush administration proposed and put into effect the Reliable Replacement Warhead program with the intention of developing a next-generation ICBM. Previously, in 2005, the U.S. also revised its Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations, putting more emphasis on the possibility of preemptive nuclear strikes on countries that may pose a military or nuclear threat.

All of that, not to mention that the U.S. was the first country to develop such capabilities, and are to date the only nation to implement such force against another nation in a time of war. Should we keep an eye on Iran? Probably. Should we be surprised that another country that doesn't particularly like us could possibly be developing the kinds of weapons that we ourselves have been developing and stockpiling (as we continue to) for the last 60 years?

Certainly not.

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