This I Believe

Debu - Idaho Falls, Idaho
Entered on October 27, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: peace, science
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“This I believe” for NPR: Iran’s Nuclear Program

President Bush wants Iran to scrap their nuclear program because it gives them the infrastructure and a capability to make nuclear weapons. His method is essentially brute force, “…listen to what we say, or else…” A similar tactic did not work with Saddam Hussein, and we know where, and what, that approach has brought us.

Several other countries in the Middle-east also want nuclear energy. They too would then have the expertise to make nuclear weapons. Can we stop them all? Iran has signed the non-proliferation treaty, something that India, Pakistan, and Israel have not. By the terms of this treaty they are allowed to perform uranium enrichment, and this has crippled the West’s arguments.

I believe there is a better way to deal with Iran’s development of nuclear power than talking about World War III. This would be by establishing the entire Middle-east region as a nuclear weapons free zone.

The visionary Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty was first signed and ratified in 1969 by the entire continent of South America and the Caribbean islands. Cuba has also ratified this treaty. The countries within the zone promise never to build, have, or deploy nuclear weapons. They also agree to place all of their nuclear facilities under IAEA oversight. Similar treaties have been signed by Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia. An African treaty involving the whole continent has been developed, but it is currently held up; Egypt is not working to ratify the treaty for fear that Israel has nuclear weapons.

A nuclear weapons free zone treaty is a way to free the world from the nuclear weapons nightmare.

Such a treaty has been proposed for the Middle-east many times, first in 1974; and, except for Israel, the Middle-eastern countries are willing to participate in the discussion. IAEA has tried to convince Israel to participate, but with no success. Israel’s reason for wanting the nuclear weapons option is self defense. However, Israel’s conventional military might, and the protective support of the U.S., should be more than enough.

As Iran has already signed the stringent Additional Protocol to the non-proliferation treaty, although this has not yet been ratified, I believe if Israel could be convinced to sign a Greater Middle-East nuclear weapons free zone treaty, Iran would also sign it. Making the region a nuclear weapons free zone is a most viable way to solve Iran’s nuclear problem. Then, any country in the region can have as much nuclear power as they like without the fear of nuclear weapons.

I believe the U.S. should work to make this happen — a better and a peaceful way to resolve the issue.