The sound and fury over Iran’s supposedly “secret reactor” has shut of the oxygen flow to the logic of the upcoming UN 5+1 powers (U.S., China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany) with Iran on a variety of issues, but mainly about Iran’s nuclear program, which Iran says is only for peaceful, energy purposes. Ahmadinejad’s most recent holocaust denial was hardly the sort of thing to inspire confidence in Iran’s claims that it has no interest in developing nuclear weapons. Iran’s latest missile tests did little to inspire confidence in its peaceful intentions either. Ballistic missiles don’t pack much punch if they don’t contain something atomic in their nose cones. Bugs and gas and dynamite aren’t worth the trouble of sending to your adversaries via missile. It’s far more cost effective to send those payloads via parcel post.
On the other hand, Iran’s secret reactor at Qom was about as secret as Bill Clinton’s indiscretions. We’ve known about it for years, and that knowledge hasn’t affected our intelligence agencies determination that Iran does not have an active nuclear weapons program. Moreover, Iran revealed the existence of the Qom site to the International Atomic Energy Agency before it was required to.
The narrative gets cloudy. According to an AP report by Pamela Hess, the Obama administration had intended to “confront the Iranians about the secret site later this year, but Tehran's sudden disclosure forced their hand.”
Wait. We were going to expose it later but had to expose it sooner because Iran exposed it sooner than we did? ¡Ay carumba!
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, like presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, lives in mortal fear that the neocons and the rest of the American warmonger will call her an empty pantsuit if she doesn’t talk tough about security every chance she gets. She’s been yacking wacky about Iran for quite a while now, and doesn’t seem ready to stop. One of her latest rants threatened that America would extend its “defense umbrella” across the Middle East to defend its friends from Iran. We’ve had a defense umbrella across the entire planet since the 1950s called nuclear deterrence.
It’s anyone’s guess as to who gulled President Obama into making a federal issue out of the Qom reactor. Maybe he figured he’s sucked up to the Pentagon so much it was time he threw a treat or two to Hillary’s pack. Whatever the case, the mishandling of the Qom reactor non-issue has been an embarrassment that makes us look as fringy-unhingy as Ahmadinejad.
I hope all this sound and fury is taking us where we really need to go with Iran. As I’ve said many times, Iran is not a military threat to its neighbors or to Israel, which is geographically so distant from Iran as to be out of its reach. Iran’s maritime forces might embarrass us in the Gulf if we preemptively attack it for no good reason, but there’s an easy way to avoid that: we don’t attack Iran for no reason.
The proper approach to softening relations with the Iranians is to impress upon them that if they want to be treated like a grown-up nation, they have to act like a grow-up nation. But, as Bill Cosby might say, if we want our children to behave like adults, we have to behave like adults ourselves. Behaving irrationally as the world’s superpower encourages emerging nations like Iran to behave the same way.
Having a nuclear weapons program would paint a bull’s eye on Iran’s back. Iran knows it, and everyone else knows it too. The solution we need from Iran is total transparency of their nuclear program in return for allowing them to have a nuclear program.
Here’s hoping that both Hillary and Ahmadinijad step back from the diplomatic process and let adults handle things.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword. Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now.