Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mideast Nuclear Transparency

Medical-grade uranium is yesterday's issue; it is time for the Mideast to focus on nuclear transparency.
It is not clear that Washington wants to resolve the nuclear dispute with Iran. The sour grapes from Administration spokespeople in response to the efforts of Ankara and Brasilia to save us from our own shortsightedness indeed suggests that Washington has considerable affection for the nuclear dispute, which is no doubt seen in some corners as a very convenient cover for efforts to subordinate Iran once again to the U.S./Israeli empire.

However, giving the benefit of the doubt to an Obama Administration still clearly confused about what is actually happening in the big world it aspires to lead, here is a Washington-style plan (i.e., talking points that will fit on one Powerpoint slide) for resolving the Iranian-American nuclear dispute:

  1. accept the breakthrough and honor it by suspending all action on sanctions until the date that Iran is due to deliver its uranium to Turkey;
  2. rush to respond by delivering medical-grade uranium to Iran ahead of schedule;
  3. applaud Iran’s good faith
  4. call for full nuclear transparency from all Mideast states and request that the IAEA lead a campaign to achieve that goal.

Only an idiot could imagine that the agreement achieved this week solves “all issues” related to the nuclear dispute. No one ever claimed that it would; pointing out that it does not only makes the speaker sound insincere. This agreement merely corrects an injustice against Iran, for medical-grade uranium should never have been denied Iran in the first place…and opens the door to actually discussing real problems. The core of these real problems is nuclear transparency.

If Israel feels disturbed by Iranian nuclear ambiguity, it is only reaping what it sowed by introducing the policy of nuclear ambiguity to the region. That policy is classic negative-sum behavior: it harms the security of everyone. The transparent fig leaf of Israel’s policy of nuclear ambiguity only accomplishes two things: it holds Israel up to ridicule as a pathetically hypocritical state and it encourages others to copy the policy, but perhaps more skillfully (i.e., dangerously). The result is that everyone feels less secure and reacts by preparing for war, raising tensions and, in the end, actually making everyone less secure. It is time for the Mideast to focus on nuclear transparency.

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