What's at stake for Iran?
“Iran's Nuclear Triumph” roared the headline of The Wall Street Journal editorial. William Kristol is again quoting Churchill on Munich.
Since the news broke Saturday night that Iran had agreed to a six-month freeze on its nuclear program, we are back in the Sudetenland again. Why? For not only was this modest deal agreed to by the United States, but also by our NATO allies Germany, Britain and France.
Former Israeli Military Intelligence Chief Amos Yadlin has remarked of the hysteria in some Israeli circles, “From the reactions this morning, I might have thought Iran had gotten permission to build a bomb.” Predictably, “Bibi” Netanyahu is leading the stampede.
In return for a modest lifting of sanctions, Tehran has agreed to halt work on the heavy water reactor it is building at Arak, to halt production of 20-percent uranium, to dilute half of its existing stockpile, and to allow more inspections.
Does this really make the world “a much more dangerous place”?
Consider the worst-case scenario we hear from our politicians and pundits — that Iran is cleverly scheming to get the U.S. and U.N. sanctions lifted, and, then, she will make a “mad dash” for the bomb.
But how exactly would Tehran go about this?
Any such Iranian action would expose Barack Obama and John Kerry as dupes. They would be discredited and the howls from Tel Aviv and Capitol Hill for air and missile strikes on Natanz, Fordo and Arak would become irresistible. Should Iran test a nuclear device, Saudi Arabia would acquire bombs from Pakistan. Turkey and Egypt might start their own nuclear weapons programs. Israel would put its nuclear arsenal on high alert.
If, after a year or two building a bomb, in an act of insanity, Iran found a way to deliver it to Israel or to a U.S. facility in the Middle East, Iran would be inviting the fate of Imperial Japan in 1945.
So, let us assume another scenario — that the Iranians are not crazed fanatics but rational actors looking out for what is best for their country.
If Iran has no atom bomb program, as the Ayatollah attests, consider the future that might open to Iran — if the Iranians are simply willing and able to prove this to the world's satisfaction.
First, a steady lifting of sanctions. Second, an end to Iran's isolation and a return to the global economy. Third, a wave of Western investment for Iran's oil and gas industry, producing prosperity and easing political pressure on the regime.
Why would Iran risk the wrath of the world and a war with the United States to acquire a bomb whose use would assure the country's annihilation?
America's goals: We do not want a nuclear Iran, and we do not want war with Iran. And Iran's actions seem to indicate that building an atom bomb is not the animating goal of the Ayatollah, as some Americans insist.
If Iran were hellbent on a bomb, why has she not produced a bomb?
Just possibly, because Iran doesn't want the bomb. And if that is so, why not a deal to end these decades of sterile hostility?
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?”