Itchy nuclear trigger fingers

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton doubts that Iran can convince western powers that its nuclear program is peaceful. Like Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction, while denying it has a program to develop proscribed weapons, Iran has preserved suspicion.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sought to divert attention from the country’s treatment of Palestinians and its expansion of settlements in the West Bank by citing an Iranian threat. Iran’s PressTV reports that Saudi Arabia has granted Israel overflight permission for a strike against Iran. President Barack Obama has demanded that Iran “come clean” about its program.

But as the drumbeat against Iran picks up its pace, we should keep Iran’s as yet nonexistent nuclear weapons in perspective. According to the Arms Control Association, China has 100-200 warheads; France has approximately 350 strategic warheads; Russia has 2,787 strategic warheads, approximately 2,000 operational tactical warheads, and approximately 8,000 stockpiled strategic and tactical warheads; the United Kingdom has less than 160 deployed strategic warheads; and the United States has 2,126 strategic warheads, approximately 500 operational tactical weapons, and approximately 6,700 reserve strategic and tactical warheads. Israel has between 75 and 200 nuclear warheads. Of these powers, only one has ever used atomic weapons: the United States against the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II.

So as the U.S. and others pursue sanctions against Iran, I’m reminded of a clause in chapter two of the United Nations charter which Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi pointed to in complaining about the Security Council. It reads, “The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.” Yet it would be through this organization that additional sanctions would be imposed.

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