By Bill Fletcher, Jr.
With each scare tactic employed by those who oppose the nuclear deal with Iran, I not only become more and more furious, but equally worried. As I have raised in prior columns, what is so dangerous about this moment is that the alternative to this pact, which is only slightly beneath the surface, is war against Iran.
A recent development, however, needs to be introduced into this discussion to encourage us all to think ‘outside of the box.’ As described in a recent article in the British publication The Guardian, the Iranians are now going beyond arguing in favor of this new agreement. They are suggesting the need for the big powers to cut back on their own nuclear weapons and the declaration of the Middle East as a nuclear free zone.
The proposal to declare the Middle East to be a nuclear free zone deserves exploring. There is only one nuclear power in the Middle East and that is Israel, a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a country that quite secretly stockpiled nuclear weapons. The Iranians are posing a question that no one in the political elite of the USA seems to be willing to ask: Why is it that only one country can possess nuclear weapons in the Middle East?
Think about this for a moment, particularly when you hear scary messages about the Iranians. Iran has not invaded another country in about 1,000 years. It occupies no one else’s land. It has no nuclear weapons. And it is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. To this it should be added, assuming that the treaty is fully adopted, any attempt by the Iranians to develop nuclear weapons would take years. To this I think that it is important to also add that were the Iranians to ever develop and deploy one single nuclear weapon, it is highly likely that they would be attacked before such weapons could become fully operational.
The Iranians have turned the tables on this discussion, however. They are saying that the agreement that was signed by the multi-national negotiating team (including the U.S.) did not actually go far enough. To ensure that there is no nuclear arms race in the Middle East, there needs to be the elimination of nuclear weapons from the region.
It is striking that the so-called mainstream U.S. media has largely ignored the Iranian proposal. To my knowledge, no Republican candidate for the presidency has made mention of this or its implications. Instead, we are treated to completely ahistorical hysterics comparing the nuclear deal to Neville Chamberlain’s agreement with the Nazis in Munich in 1938. Such analogies miss the point: Despite the fact that the Iranian regime is highly repressive against its internal critics, there is no Iranian threat to invade anyone, let alone to create anything comparable to the Thousand Year Reich.
My conclusion? Time to ratify the agreement and get onto the business of eliminating nuclear weapons.