looking for

Nuclearization of Iran

Iran is currently the strongest Middle Eastern military power other than Israel, and Tehran has a great desire to lessen Western influence in this region. It has been assessed, as well, that Iran may be the first Islamic country in the Middle East to acquire a nuclear weapons capability. Proliferation of nuclear weapons to the Middle East, could pose a great threat to U.S. national security and international stability. A nuclearized Iran, in particular, would likely instigate competitive nuclear programs in several neighboring states, doing much to destabilize the already fragile security balance of the Middle East. With the willing support of several countries to supply Iran with the materials, technologies and scientific know-how to produce its first atomic weapon, America must now reevaluate the prospects of preventing the nuclearization of Iran. Although, the Islamic Republic is currently a member of the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), it has been aggressively pursuing a nuclear program for more than 30 years. The first nuclear reactor acquired by the Islamic Republic dates back to 1967; it was delivered by the United States to the Aimrabad Nuclear Research Center in Tehran. However war with Iraq and the inability of the Islamic Republic’s leadership to prevent the ruthless chemical attacks on its civilian population did a great deal to convince the Ayatollah Khomeini government to revitalize the Iranian nuclear weapons program, which had remained dormant for several years after the overthrow of the Shah. To carry out such a program, Iran has continuously requested the assistance of numerous countries such as China, Pakistan, Russia, Argentina and North Korea. Despite such attempts, it is currently assessed that the Islamic Republic has yet to acquire the necessary materials and/or technical know-how to produce its first atomic bomb. Nonetheless, the Iranian leadership has been and still is patient, mainly because its international security motives to acquire nuclear weapons are not urgent or critical. To better grasp Iran’s motivations for the acquisition of nuclear weapons, it is important to also understand what the security priorities of the Iranian government are. In terms of national security, Iran’s leadership believes that their immediate concerns are not against international aggression, but rather against local and internal opposition elements. Iran’s main priority is to ensure that the Islamic regime stays in power; and, thus, the more immediate security concerns of the Islamic Revolution is against opposition groups such as the mujahedin in Iraq who are attempting to topple the regime, than against possible future U.S. attacks. In addition, the Iranian government has continuously been concerned over the economically destabilizing factor of possible incursions from bordering states, specifically those who are in the process of decomposition like Iraq and Afghanistan. Along with local security issues, the Iranian leadership has international security concerns with Iraq and the West, which are predicated mostly upon policies of the United States. Due to the decade long United Nations sanctions placed on Iraq, this military threat has been somewhat neutralized. In addition, the American presence in the Persian Gulf is still seen as a potential, future threat that Iran would like to see eliminated. Although this is not an urgent danger, the Iranian government realizes that the United States’ presence in the region is a security concern that has strategic relevance to the realizations of their international goals and objectives. Iran’s specific security motivations to become nuclearized are not particularly urgent, nor are they overwhelming. As one can see, nuclear weapons would not be very helpful with the more time critical, local security threat posed by the mujahedin in Iraq. It would only be of some importance to its bigger security concerns, like Iraq and the United States. Thus, the quest for nuclear weapons is mostly motivated by "political" rather than "security" reasons, its drive for world status being greater than any particular national security threat. It becomes evident then that the need to acquire a nuclear arsenal stems less from a sense of urgency or necessity, than from ambition, choice and historical lessons learned from the Gulf War and the eight-year war against Iraq.