Iran, Israel and WMDs
Tom Wright's theory in Tuesday's Irish Times seems perfectly reasonable, Iran's nuclear ambitions most probably have little to do with Israel's nuclear weapons. Because, as far as we are aware, Iran is not in the process of attempting to acquire any nuclear weapons capability. However, setting out an explanation as to how Israel is limiting nuclear proliferation, not motivating it's neighbours to acquire similar weapons, is not the same as offering proof that Iran is intent on acquiring said weapons. This argument is unusual, in that starting out with a false premise rarely results in an accurate conclusion.
To oppose Iran's stated nuclear ambitions is only fair, just as many across the globe are fair in opposing each and every countries stated nuclear ambitions, peaceful and hostile. And just as the those states with nuclear weapons that signed the NNPT, in apparent hypocrisy, oppose their own nuclear capabilities. But to have any credibility when in opposition to something it is paramount that the critic not exaggerate, over emphasize or misrepresent the facts.
If Israel's proposed position as a peacemaker in the Middle East is proof that Iran has no requirement for the weapons it is not acquiring then what do Israeli threats suggest? "Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches," Arial Sharon. If the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's call for Israel to be "wiped off the map" is proof that Iran should never possess the weapons it is not attempting to acquire, then what does it mean if his words actually called for the Israeli regime to suffer said "wiping", not the Israeli people or state? "Our dear Imam ordered that the occupying regime in Jerusalem be wiped off the face of the earth."
The rhetoric may be aggressive and the truth less useful, but fixing the facts around the policy is better left to the big boys.
Israel not to blame for Iran's nuclear blackmail
"Not even Israel's most ardent critics, and there are plenty of them, can point to a single instance where it has brandished these weapons, as some have done - North Korea springs to mind - to bully, cajole, or blackmail others. Instead, Israel has quietly held a minimal deterrent in reserve as a guarantor of last resort against being completely overrun. This posture has actually had a pacifying effect, convincing most of its adversaries to give up their ambition of driving Israelis into the sea. In fact, one could reasonably claim that no nuclear power has been more restrained or responsible in its doctrine and behaviour.
It is simply fanciful to suggest that if it wasn't for Israel's programme Iran would not be seeking nuclear weapons. To say that we cannot put pressure on Iran unless we also put pressure on Israel - as if Israel is the root cause of the problem - is ignorant of history and circumstance."
(Tom Wright is a research fellow at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and senior researcher for the Princeton Project in National Security)