Bombs awayThe US has joined the UK, France and Germany in calling for the UN to sanction Iran for resuming its nuclear programme. So why is Iran ignoring the international consensus?
Well, maybe because three of those countries have the nuclear weapons they seek to deny Iran. And in the case of two of them are looking at building or buying their next generation. America is considering how it can build "useable" nuclear weapons, which it plans to use against recalcitrant third-world nations such as, erm, Iran.
I don't think a nuclear-armed Iran would be a good thing. Although I think there is zero chance of its attacking Israel with nukes (and I believe Israel's alarm centres around the levelling of the power projection gap between it and those who oppose it rather than genuine fear of attack), I wouldn't shed too many tears if the Israelis went ahead and took out Bushehr. But the hypocrisy is sickening.
We talk about our commitment to nonproliferation. But what we mean is nonproliferation for them. The NPT calls on us to reduce our arsenals (with the aim of working towards a nuclear-weapons-free world). The UK has been presented with an opportunity to wind down its nuclear programme, to save itself a great deal of money, and to not equip itself with a weapon that is useless against any threat we might conceivably face. But we are convinced that nukes are the ticket to the big boys' club (and we're right), so we will buy a whole new generation of weapons.
And why didn't we bully India? Or Pakistan? Is a Pakistani bomb less dangerous than an Iranian one?
We all know the answer. Pakistan doesn't have leaders who say Israel should be wiped off the map (or if they do, they say it only in private). And India is a strategic counterweight to China.
The problem with these power games, even though they may bring us temporary security, is that they give a message to countries such as Iran. They say "to be a player you must have the bomb". And Iran wants to be a player, because it has a long and illustrious history, a rich culture and an important place in Asia, and it's downcast that no one gives it the respect it feels it deserves. The message, of course, ought to be "to be a player, you must enrich your population to the level of ours". But our governments are too little interested in enriching populations (except the populations of their address books).