HRC Op-Ed in IPolitics: “A Nuclear Iran Could Not Be ‘Contained’”

In our latest IPolitics commentary published on June 3, HRC Executive Director Mike  Fegelman counters arguments proposed by IPolitics contributor Alireza Nader of the RAND Corporation that a nuclear-armed Iran could be “contained”.

Our op-ed can be viewed here or immediately below:


IPolitics: Mike Fegelman: “A nuclear Iran could not be ‘contained’” (June 4, 2013)

As Canadian parliamentarians meet this week to hold Iran to account for its serial human rights violations, sponsorship of terror, and destructive pursuit of nuclear weapons, IPolitics contributor Alireza Nader of the RAND Corporation, would rather Canada’s policy makers think that it’s sound policy to give Tehran the green light to procure weapons of mass destruction.

As if it’s a fait accompli to prevent the Islamic Republic from acquiring nukes, Nader proposes an intellectual dishonest argument when calling for a containment of a nuclear Iran. According to Nader, while such a proposition may be “bad, but (it’s not the end of the world”. Except that an atomic Iran may indeed bring about an End of Days-like scenario, what world leaders fear may usher in an apocalypse. Importantly, the world has never been able to contain an Iran which is currently wreaking havoc without nuclear weapons, so by what logic and guarantee can we conclude that if the mad mullah’s secured such weaponry that the international community could successfully enforce a policy of containment? Nader doesn’t say.

That is why a line must be drawn to prevent Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the United Nations recently that the world must draw a red line for Iran, threatening that if Iran crosses the “red line” by getting to the final stage in making a bomb where Iran is 90 per cent along the path of having sufficient weapons-grade material, war will ensue.

As Netanyahu remarked: “Red lines don’t lead to war, red lines prevent war.” Without a clearly defined red line, Iran will only see a green light in their mad dash towards the nuclear goal line.

An important grassroots effort called Set The Red Line argues that the prospect of living with a nuclear Iran is a disaster for the world for 3 reasons: 

  1. Economy – A nuclear Iran would quickly move against its Arab neighbors, dominating the Straits of Hormuz and controlling 40 percent of the world’s seaborne petroleum exports. Iran could then wield the ultimate oil weapon – sending petroleum prices skyrocketing and triggering global economic paralysis.
  2. Mideast Destabilization – A nuclear Iran would place unparalleled weaponry into the hands of proxy terror regimes including Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and beyond. A nuclear Iran would trigger mass nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, thus destabilizing an already-volatile region, while undoing decades of international efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation. Further, a nuclear Iran could act on its threat to annihilate the State of Israel, a vital strategic asset and America’s closest ally in the Middle East.
  3. Jihad – A nuclear Iran would be emboldened to act upon its perceived religious obligation to destroy America the Great Satan, and its incumbent goal of launching an apocalyptic war in order to hasten the messianic Twelfth Iman’s pledge of global Islamic domination.

Apart from Nader’s dangerous policy proposal calling for a “containment of Iran,” the claim that “Iran is opposed to Israel as a Jewish state” and that “its policies toward Israel are more pragmatic than often assumed” does violence to history. Instead, Iran’s leadership continues to incite genocide in its calls for Israel’s annihilation with President Ahmadinejad declaring recently that “The very existence of the Zionist regime is an insult to humanity” and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei proclaiming that Israel would “disappear from the geographical landscape”. Not to be outdone, Iran’s Foreign Minister recently described Israel as “a malignant tumor”. Nader would have you believe that Iran needs nukes as the “ultimate deterrent” as Israel and the U.S. want to wipe Iran off the map, however, only the inverse is true.

Nader argues that “… we should all be grateful that notions of martyrdom and apocalyptic beliefs don’t have a significant pull on Iranian decision-making… From Khamenei’s point of view, Israel’s existence is a much better alternative than a nuclear war resulting in mutual destruction.” Except, as preeminent historian Bernard Lewis argues, for Iran “mutual assured destruction is not a deterrent, but an inducement.” Iran’s constitution proclaims: “A religious mission which is holy war along the way of Allah, and the struggle to extend the supremacy of Allah’s law in the world.” Iran’s fanatical leaders are bent on worldwide domination and envision a world living under Islamic Sharia law.

The danger is clearly grave, and no sanctions or diplomatic isolation seem to be slowing Iran’s quest notwithstanding how important these measures clearly are. There appears to be no silver bullet options right now; just silver shrapnel to wound the Iranian regime.

There’s ample debate about the efficacy of sanctions. It should be acknowledged that Canada has commendably led the world by imposing round after round of piercing sanctions on Iran. Canada listed Iran as a state sponsor of terror, evicted its diplomats from Canadian soil, listed the IRGC’s Qods Force as a terrorist entity, and this week banned nearly all imports and exports with Iran.

In 1979, Jimmy Carter said that Iran represented “an island of stability in one of the more troubled areas of the world”. Flash forward to 2013, international pariah Iran only brings about global instability and domestic repression. We cannot have any doubts that Iran would use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against its perceived enemies.

An atomic Iran is not a feckless paper tiger, instead, it’s a global nuclear menace and “containment” theories are its Trojan horse.


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