Nunc Scio
Thursday, May 11, 2006
  Nuclear Hypocrisy

I don't like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He's a dangerous theocrat, and his grasp of subtlety and diplomacy is downright primordial. But damn it, he makes an occasional good point. Like today in Macleans, where he accuses Western nations of taking a hypocritical line on nuclear weapons. It's pretty hard to order another nation to stop a nuclear weapons program while sitting on a huge pile of nukes yourself. Say, for example, I had a whole bunch of apples. You say:

"Can I have some apples?"
"Alright. I'm going to grow some of my own."
"Sorry, you can't."
"Because I said so."
"But you have a tonne of apples of your own. Why do you get to have apples and I don't?"
"That's not an answer."
"True." [I then punch you in the face]

Of course, apples can't destroy the world, but you get the idea. What we have here is a classic Hobbbesian race to the bottom. If one nation has nukes, everybody wants them. Instead of building domestic arsenals while threatening to bomb anyone who enriches uranium, why not try to eliminate nukes altogether? Oh right. Realpolitik.

Still, these kinds of obvious questions seem particularly important nowadays, since we appear to be teetering on the brink of another arms race. Awesome. Remember the early nineties when we thought the risk of nuclear annihilation was behind us? Yeah, good times.
I agree that Amudinejad is a nutjob, and I don't want him to have a nuclear weapon. However, on BBC World News (Radio) I heard an interview with an Nuclear Physicist.

Iran has 3.5% enriched Uranium, and that has taken them longer than expected to reach. To create a Atom Bomb you need 95% enriched uranium. Now, this would be a A-Bomb not Thermonuclear. An A-Bomb like we dropped on Hiroshima is obviously horrific, but it is less than 1/1000th the power of those ones the Russians and Americans played with during the Cold War.

Further, there are a number of massive technological innovations needed before they can produce a bomb, even from 95% enriched uranium (which they are no where near) you have to overcome a number of highly complex electronic issues.

And Finally, the bomb would be huge (Think Big Boy), not the kind of thing you can put on a missle. Miniturization technology is even more complex and far off for Iran.

Since everyone has Radar, and since we are talking about a very heavy weapon, it is highly unlikely Iran would get he bomber much further than their border. And shooting it down doesn't cause an atomic detonation.

So, according to this expert, we're talking about an undeliverable bomb in somewhere near 20-40 years.

As much as it pains me to agree with Iran, they are right. This is not about weapons, it's about power generation (granted, it will lead to weapons research, but we have awhile to deal with it).

If we attack Iran, or even punish them, we are looking at a situation where Amudinejad can scapegoat the West, and crackdown against his real enemy, the reformist population of Iran.
What I'd like to know is why no one is mentioning India?

Just a couple of months ago Bush agreed to share nuclear technology with India - a country that refuses to sign the NPT. Yet despite that, Bush is HANDING THEM the technology... so that Americans can eat tasty Indian mangos.

With all of the great points noted by Jacob, it should also be noted that Iran is a signatory of said NPT and as such is bound by it.

I'm in agreeance that Ahmadinejad is a nutbar, but his nation has every right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful energy purposes as a signatory of the NPT. They would simply be required to meet the checks and balances contained therein.
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Jack of all trades, master of none, Graeme is many things to many people. Unfortunately, none of them find him very life-affirming in any capacity. He is a freelance writer, broadcaster, amateur cryptozoologist and occasional political commentator late of London, England and now based in Toronto. Most of the time, he's confused. And a little hungry. But mostly just confused and somewhat uncomfortable writing in the third person.

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