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The Real Iranian Weapon - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Iran is rushing to acquire nuclear arms to compete with its neighbor, Pakistan, with which it shares a 1000km border. Of course, this is not the only aim behind the nuclear program. The Islamic Republic hopes nuclear weapons will shore up its defenses and diminish the likelihood of being attacked, as well as act a deterrent.

Yet despite real fears of a nuclear weapon produced in Iran in the next ten years, the country’s more important weapon remains oil. With a production of more than 4 million barrels a day, Tehran is able to affect global oil prices if it decides to suspend its exports. Threats alone can sow fear in world markets and increase prices.

Of course, the possibility that Iran might create confusion is real if the government believes in exchanging oil for permission to build its nuclear reactor.

If I were part of the U.S and EU negotiating team, I would have raised no objections to Iran’s nuclear activities. Building the nuclear reactor and enriching uranium will prove costly, especially as construction is being conducted underground in secret facilities for fear of air strikes. It will take Iran ten long years to achieve its goal during which it will incur high expenses. In the end, the Islamic Republic, at best, will become similar to its neighbors Pakistan and Israel.

It might have nuclear weapons, but at what cost? Iran will never be able to strike countries that threaten its existence, such as the United States and Israel as they are well defended and quick to react to any threat. Most of Washington’s nuclear arsenal is currently deployed around the world, some anchored close to Iran’s shores. The leadership in Tehran must realize that no matter what problems facing the region, they will not be solved by nuclear weapons.

Despite its established nuclear program, Israel has recently withdrawn from the Gaza Strip and settled for smaller territory despite its security and religious claims to a large portion of the Middle East and its nuclear arsenal.

The nuclear option has so far failed to solve the problems of Pakistan, and India and similarly will not end Iran’s troubles.

Iran’s admiration of North Korea is misleading. The government in Pyongyang has stubbornly refused to compromise on the nuclear issue in spite of widespread poverty and famine. What pride can the nuclear weapon bring to a country begging for food aid?

The government in Tehran appears to be close-minded and living in fear. It is escaping into the future to momentarily forget its present internal difficulties.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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