By Fareed Zakaria, from GPS on CNN website, March 8, 2012
Before we set out on a path to another Middle East war, let's remember some facts. First, Iran does not have nuclear weapons. And the evidence is ambiguous as to whether it has decided to make them....
What if Iran does manage to develop a couple of crude nukes in several years? Obama says a nuclear Iran would set off an arms race in the Middle East. But a nuclear North Korea has not led the two countries directly threatened by its weapons - South Korea and Japan - to go nuclear. Saudi Arabia and Egypt did not go nuclear in response to Israel's developing a large and robust arsenal of nuclear weapons....
Obama has explained that a nuclear Iran would be a problem like India and Pakistan with their nuclear weapons. But India and Pakistan went to war three times in 30 years before they had nuclear weapons. Since they went nuclear, they have been restrained and have not fought a war in 40 years. That case shows the stabilizing, not destabilizing, effects of deterrence. If Israel genuinely believes that deterrence doesn't work in the Middle East, why does it have a large nuclear arsenal if not to deter its enemies?
Iran's weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists, says the President. But would a country that has labored for decades to pursue a nuclear program and suffered huge sanctions and costs to do so then turn around and give the fruits of its efforts to a gang of militants?
Without trying to out-anti-war Mr. Zakaria, it might be useful to ask some questions about the current relationship between the rational actor, Iran, and Hezbollah, and Hamas and also Syria...none of which entities have demonstrated a capacity of restraint either with respect to crimes against humanity, nor the respect for law. Should Iran construct even the most crude nuclear weapon, and the missile(s) necessary to fire such a weapon, what would stop the leaders of their allies from seeking and acquiring access to such weaponry.
All the rationalists calculate that because Iran is interested in her own survival, as would any rational actor be, then sanctions and negotiations have to be considered as the strategy of choice, to squeeze a "cease and desist order" from Iran to her nuclear scientists who may well be developing a nuclear weapon.
With respect to North Korea, almost literally without resources except an army of the size of Leningen and the Ants, and the capacity to trade the secrets of those weapons to other rogue states, do we really know that, while on the surface there has not been an overt "arms race" because of their having such weapons, North Korea has not already secretly pirated either nuclear weapons or the information needed for their generation to other rogue states, or to terrorist organizations. Recall, I believe it was Dr. Khan, currently under house arrest in Pakistan, who disclosed, (sold?) nuclear secrets to Lybia in the not-so-distant past.
What is likely to stop those seeking such weapons from attempting to acquire them, and from Iran, enjoying the bragging rights that accompany such possession, what would be likely to cause her to resist such entreaties?
While I subscribe to the commitment to both sanctions and diplomacy, so long as there is clear and uncontrovertible evidence that both are working to choke Iranian nuclear ambitions, I also believe that, were I an Israeli, and if I lived inside Israel, I would be extremely concerned about the potential repercussions of any attack by either my country, or the U.S. or both, on Iran, even though my Prime Minister has just negotiated considerable support from President Obama, along with bunker-buster bombs that would penetrate deeper into the Iranian nuclear facilities, providing Israel with increased capacity to "go it alone" should it feel such a step is necessary.(Yesterday, the White House denied they had agreed to provide bunker buster bombs to Israel.)