Why does the US want a nuclear-armed Iran?

Thomas L. Knapp - The Philippine Star

“A major expansion underway inside Iran’s most heavily protected nuclear facility could soon triple the site’s production of enriched uranium,” the Washington Post reports. That expansion “could allow Iran to accumulate several bombs’ worth of nuclear fuel every month.”

Even if the reportage is accurate, two questions loom large.

First: Do the Iranians want to join the nuclear weapons club?

The answer seems to be “no.”

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei – whose orders constitute the regime’s policy – has long held that “the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that the Islamic Republic of Iran shall never acquire these weapons.”

The US Office of the Director of National Intelligence confirms that position, reporting that “Iran is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activities that would be necessary to produce a testable nuclear device.”

Second: Why is the US regime’s policy clearly oriented toward changing Iran’s mind on the acquisition of nuclear weapons?

For all its panic-mongering over the prospect of a nuclear Iran, there’s only been a short period over the last quarter century when the panic actually got addressed – the period of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, aka the “Iran nuclear deal.”

As a Non-Proliferation Treaty member-state, Iran has seemingly kept its nuclear activities within the limits required by that treaty, as verified by International Atomic Energy Agency inspections.

But for a decade or so leading up to the JCPOA, the US wanted more restrictions on those activities, as a condition of lifting sanctions. Every time the Iranians agreed, the US backed out, demanding even more.

Then came the JCPOA in 2015. The Iranians finally offered enough in the way of concessions above and beyond the NPT guidelines that Barack Obama couldn’t find a credible way to kick out. And so it went – even more inspections, even more compliance with US demands and minimal sanctions relief.

Until Donald Trump claimed, in 2018, to have “withdrawn” the US from the JCPOA (something he had no power to do without also withdrawing from the United Nations, as the JCPOA is a UN Security Council resolution binding on all UN member-states).

Joe Biden ran for president on a promise to bring the US back into compliance with the JCPOA, then broke that promise and continued piling sanctions back on.

So the Iranians went back to expanding refinement of uranium – remaining within NPT limits and proposing to return to JCPOA limits any time the US decides to stop messing around and keep up its end of the deal.

QED, it is the US regime, not the Iranian regime, which wants the Iranian regime to withdraw from the NPT and build The Bomb.

That might not be such a bad thing. An Iranian nuclear deterrent could match Israel’s rogue nuclear threat, creating a more stable, less war-prone balance of power in the region.

But why not just say so instead of playing the “we don’t REALLY want what we’re CLEARLY pursuing” game?

Your guess is as good as mine.

*   *   *

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.

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