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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Don’t get mad, get more sanctions

Published: September 26, 2008
Section: Opinions

News of Iran’s advancing nuclear development has been in the forefront of current events for several months. Many questions have been asked as to why so many object to Iran’s nuclear program: Why is the world so worried about Iran becoming a nuclear power? Isn’t the Iranian government capable of possessing such a strong weapon without aggressive intentions? After all, didn’t the Soviet Union, a former enemy of the United States, acquire nuclear weapons without using them during the Cold War? Why doesn’t the world engage Iran in a diplomatic negotiation process? A closer look at Iran’s intentions and actions may begin to answer these questions.

Iran is ruled by a fractured and extremist government, lead by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini- two radical fundamentalists. The Iranian Government acts based on Twelver Shi’a Islam, which follows an apocalyptic vision of messianic times. This view includes the destruction of Israel and the United States. Furthermore, the Iranian government poses a formidable threat as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. It funds, trains, and arms Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad- fundamentalist organizations with mandates to destroy Israel. The country is called The Islamic Republic of Iran and it is a country of cause. Though it may want to advance its national image, it more wants to remake the world in its image and therefore presents the gravest of ideological threats.

These radical beliefs make it more likely that the technology will be used for destructive purposes and it is very difficult for the world to prevent Iran from using its weapons in a destructive way. The nature of this Islamic extremism is that it does not translate into Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) as a means of deterrence. During the Cold War, MAD inspired a fear that allowed the world to maintain a precarious balance of peace because both sides chose to avoid the worst possible outcome- nuclear annihilation. The Soviet Union chose the practical solution of survival over the risk of launching a nuclear attack on the United States. The danger we face today is that it is unclear whether the Iranian government is guided by such reason. Instead, this fractured and fundamentalist government may turn to idealistic beliefs to direct their actions without thought to the practical and deadly ramifications.

Iran is moving closer to attaining nuclear technology. Talks in Geneva in late July between Iran and the six world powers of the United States, China, Britain, France, Germany, and Russia have ended in a deadlock with Iran refusing to heed international demands to stop enriching uranium. To date, Iran has defied three U.N. Security Counsel Resolutions and began to conduct war games and test missiles in early July. Although the United States has offered to halt international sanctions in exchange for a freeze of Iran’s nuclear program, Iran did not accept the offer. It is clear that Iran is not serious about talks over ceasing their nuclear enrichment program and that the Iranian government is choosing to push on with nuclear development despite sanctions and international pressure.

Furthermore, in recent months, several countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey, have applied to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with plans of nuclear energy development. The Iranian Regime, if allowed to progress with their nuclear program, may instigate a cascade of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East that has the potential to upset the already politically volatile region.

Ahmadinejad and Iran’s leadership have spoken loudly of the destruction of Israel and, though they claim their nuclear program will only be used peacefully, it seems too high a risk to take. Former methods of deterrence will not suffice and Iran has proven itself resistant to negotiation attempts. The world must decided between the choice of increasing to the economic pressure placed on Iran and continuing to isolate the Iranian government, or endangering the Middle East and the international community with its nuclear program.