Why shouldn't Iran have nuclear weapons?
Israel has American warheads ready to fire
Iranians see only hypocrisy from the world's nuclear powers
By James C Moore
Independent" -- -- As international political powers seek Iran's
capitulation on nuclear weapons development, little notice is given to what the
Americans and the British have done to create this crisis nor what steps the
Israelis might eventually take to make it profoundly more complicated.
Iran's antipathy toward the West did not spontaneously generate out of the
crazed rhetoric of radical mullahs. It has been spurred by what Iranians see as
hypocrisy on the part of members of the world's nuclear community, and the
bumbled meddling of the US and UK in Iranian affairs for more than a half
Iran is dangerous, but the British and the Americans have helped to make it that
way. And the situation is even more precarious than it appears.
Shortly after the Gulf War in 1991, Germany gave Israel two of its
diesel-powered Dolphin-class submarines. The Israelis agreed to purchase a third
at a greatly reduced price. In November 2005, Germany announced that it was
selling two more subs to Israel for $1.2bn (£660m).
Defence analysts have suggested the Dolphin-class boats are a means for Israel
to have a second-strike capability from the sea if any of its land-based defence
systems are hit by enemy nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, the Bush doctrine of
pre-emptive war is geopolitically afoot: Israel and the American president might
not be willing to wait until after the first shot is fired.
Initially, Israel was expected to arm its submarine fleet with its own
short-range Popeye missiles carrying conventional warheads. At least three
mainstream publications in the US and Germany, however, have confirmed the
vessels have been fitted with US-made Harpoon missiles with nuclear tips. Each
Dolphin-class boat can carry 24 missiles.
Although Israel has not yet taken delivery of the two new submarines, the three
presently in its fleet have the potential to launch 72 Harpoons. Stratfor, a
Texas intelligence business, claims the Harpoons are designed to seek out
ship-sized targets on the sea but could be retrofitted with a different guidance
According to independent military journalist Gordon Thomas, that has already
happened. He has reported the Harpoons were equipped with "over the horizon"
software from a US manufacturer to make them suitable for attacks on Iranian
nuclear facilities. Because the shallow waters of the Persian Gulf make the
Israeli subs easily detectable, two of them are reported to be patrolling the
deeper reaches of the Gulf of Oman, well within range of Iranian targets.
If Israel has US nuclear weaponry pointed at Iran, the position of the country's
supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, becomes more politically supportable by
his people. Despite the fact that Israel has been developing nuclear material
since 1958, the country has never formally acknowledged it has a nuclear
arsenal. Analysts have estimated, however, that Israel is the fifth-largest
nuclear power on the planet with much of its delivery systems technology funded
by US taxpayers. To complicate current diplomatic efforts, Israel, like Pakistan
and India, has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty even as it
insists in the international discourse that Iran be stopped from acquiring what
Israel already has.
Before Ariel Sharon's health failed, Der Speigel reported that the then Israeli
prime minister had ordered his country's Mossad intelligence service to go into
Iran and identify nuclear facilities to be destroyed. Journalist Seymour Hersh
has also written that the US military already has teams inside Iran picking
targets and working to facilitate political unrest. It is precisely this same
type of tactic by the US and the UK, used more than a half century ago, which
has led us to the contemporary nuclear precipice.
In 1953, Kermit Roosevelt led the CIA overthrow of Mohamed Mossadeq, Iran's
democratic- ally elected prime minister. Responding to a populace that had grown
restive under imperialist British influence, Mossadeq had plans to nationalise
the vast oil fields of his country.
At the prompting of British intelligence, the CIA executed strategic bombings
and political harassments of religious leaders, which became the foundation of
Mossadeq's overthrow. Shah Reza Pahlevi, whose strings were pulled from Downing
Street and Washington, became a brutal dictator who gave the multinational oil
companies access to Iranian reserves. Over a quarter of a century later, the
Iranian masses revolted, tossed out the Shah, and empowered the radical
Iran has the strength needed to create its current stalemate with the West.
Including reserves, the Iranian army has 850,000 troops - enough to deal with
strained American forces in Iraq, even if US reserves were to be deployed. The
Iranians also have North Korean surface-to-air missiles with a 1,550-mile range
and able to carry a nuclear warhead.
America cannot invade and occupy. Iran's response would likely be an invasion of
southern Iraq, populated, as is Iran, with Shias who could be enlisted to
further destabilise Iraq. There are also reported to be thousands of underground
nuclear facilities and uranium gas centrifuges in Iran, and it is impossible for
all of them to be eliminated. But the Israelis might be willing to try. An
Israeli attack on Iran would give Bush some political cover at home. The
president could continue to argue that Israel has a right to protect itself.
But what if Israeli actions endanger America? Israel cannot attack without the
US being complicit. Israeli jets would have to fly through Iraqi air space,
which would require US permission. And America's Harpoon missiles would be
delivering the warheads. These would blow up Iranian nuclear facilities and also
launch an army of Iranian terrorists into the Western world.
But George Bush is still without a respectable presidential legacy. He might be
willing to risk everything to mark his place in history as the man who stopped
Iran from getting nukes. The greater fear, though, is that he becomes the first
person to pull the nuclear trigger since Hiroshima and Nagasaki - and then his
place in the history books will be assured.
James C Moore is the author of three books about the Bush administration. His
latest, 'The Architect', will be published in September by Random House of New
Independent News and Media Limited