Saturday, February 18, 2012

Which Middle East Nuclear Arms Race?

Haaretz reported

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Saturday a nuclear-armed Iran would trigger an arms race in the Middle East and nations should impose "crippling" sanctions on Iran to force it to give up its atomic program.

"A nuclear Iran is a threat to the whole world, not just to Israel ... Other major powers in the Middle East will have to try to reach nuclear capability, probably Saudi Arabia, probably Turkey, probably even Egypt," Barak told reporters in Tokyo.
The same article characterized Israel's nuclear weapons capabilities as:

Israel, widely believed to be the Middle East's only nuclear power, has said a nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to its existence. 
And what role does Israel's possession of several hundred nuclear weapons have on any Middle East nuclear arms race?

Consider the vectoring on the Iranian threat:

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in an interview published on Saturday Iran was trying to develop a nuclear weapons capability and if it succeeded it would set off a dangerous round of nuclear proliferation across the Middle East.
United Nations Chief Ban Ki-Moon kept the theme going.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said today in Vienna that Iranian assertions that its nuclear program is peaceful are unconvincing and that it is up to the government in Tehran to dispel suspicions about its atomic work.

While “the onus is on the Iranian side to convince the international community that their nuclear program is genuinely peaceful,” Ban said

Contrasting this line of thought was U.S. General Martin Dempsey, currently visiting Israel:

Gen. Dempsey said that Iran is a "rational actor" and that the U.S. thinks that Iran has not yet decided whether to make a nuclear weapon.
Middle Eastern countries may have noticed President Obama's appointment of neocon and Israel lover Dennis Ross to manage the Iranian problem in 2009.  Oddly, White House retiree Dennis Ross wrote three days ago:

Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have consistently called for “crippling sanctions,” reflecting a belief that Iran’s behavior could be changed with sufficient pressure. The fact that crippling sanctions have finally been applied means that Israel is more likely to give these sanctions and the related diplomatic offensive a chance to work. And it should.
Ehud Barak's comments weren't for giving already imposed, crippling sanctions time to work.  Does this mean "crippling sanctions" is just a meme, repeatedly stated no matter how high or costly sanctions become for the Iranian people?

A meme in the opposite direction is the U.S. call for Israel to "stop building settlements."  Frankly, the words have no meaning after decades of use. 

Did Middle East countries watch the West turn its back on Libya's Gadhafi?  This occurred despite Gadhafi's renouncing nuclear weapons, investing heavily in Western private equity firms and opening Libya to foreign corporations, albeit not fast enough.

The common denominator for U.S. led Western intervention is a Project for New American Century piece, "Rebuilding America's Defenses."  Neocons, including the aforementioned Dennis Ross, called for Iraq, Libya, Syria and Iran to fall under American influence.  Two down, two in play.

As for the Middle East arms race, what role did Israel play with its deep nuclear weapons capability and razing of Gaza and Southern Lebanon?  'How does $2.5 billion a year in American military aid factor in?

Update:  Tom Donilon (of Fannie Mae fame) visited Israel in his role of National Security Czar.  Israel's desire to strike Iran is growing   Netanyahu will tell Donilon the only test of sanctions is a positive outcome. "Any measure that doesn't stop Iran's nuclear program is inadequate."  Western banks in Iran won't stop any attack.

Update 2-19-12:  British Foreign Secretary Hague said if Iran succeeds in developing nuclear weapons, there will either be a war or a cold war.  "Either way, [Iran] will be attacked and there will be a war."

Update 2-22-12:  The U.S. State Department said it is closely consulting Israel in regard to Iran's nuclear program.  Obama spokesman Jay Carney's Iran language sounds like Ari Fleischer on Iraq.  Should I change the name of this blog to Carney's Freedom Switch?  Nah...

Update 2-23-12:  Iranian missiles could hit U.S. East Coast in 2-3 years, according to an Israeli official.  Another tooth in the cog of war.