There is no good evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. It has
offered to allow regular International Atomic Energy Agency inspections of
the newly announced facility near Qom, which would effectively prevent it
from being used for weapons production.
There is a secret nuclear facility in the Middle East, however, producing
plutonium and not just enriched uranium, which has the capacity to make 10
nuclear warheads a year.
It is Israel’s ongoing nuclear weapon production that drives the nuclear
arms race in the Middle East. Saddam wanted a bomb because Israel had one.
The Iranians were then worried both about an Iraqi and an Israeli bomb.
Egypt, Saudi Arabia and others are annoyed at their geostrategic
helplessness in the face of Israeli nukes.
Israel’s nuclear arsenal is the region’s Original Sin.
Juan Cole is a professor of modern Middle Eastern and South Asian history
at the University of Michigan and the author of Napoleon’s Egypt and, most
recently, Engaging the Muslim World (Palgrave Macmillan, March 2009).
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