The Right to Bear Nuclear Arms?

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Last Wednesday, the UN Security Council passed a fourth round of sanctions against Iran.  The sanctions follow Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s announcement in February that Iran is now a “nuclear state.”  The International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed that Iran has enriched enough uranium for two nuclear bombs.

These developments render a conversation I had recently that was rather nonsensical.  “Iran has as much right to nuclear weapons as anyone else,” a liberal friend told me.  This came as a surprise.  By now, there is scarcely anyone who is not alarmed at Iran’s nuclear ambitions.  On November 27, 2009, the IAEA issued a resolution calling on Iran to freeze operations at its uranium enrichment facility outside the city of Qum.  (The existence of the secret Qum installation was revealed to the world by Western leaders in September during the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh.)  The day after the IAEA resolution, a defiant Iran announced its intention to build an additional ten uranium enrichment plants.  Even Russia, long tolerant, if not encouraging of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, has shown some signs of unease.  On November 16, Russia announced that the Bashere nuclear reactor, which it has been building for Iran, would not come on line by its scheduled completion date at the end of 2009.

Israel openly contemplates a preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear installations.  This would reprise Israel’s successful air strikes against Iraq’s Osiraq nuclear reactor in 1981 and Syria’s nuclear reactor in 2007.  It is the prospect of a preemptive strike against Iran—not Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons—which most worries the Left.

A number of other liberal friends echoed the assertion that Iran has a right to nuclear arms.  It suddenly struck me that a strange thing had happened on the Left: liberals have embraced the Second Amendment—but with a catch.  While most liberals continue to recoil at the thought of guns in the hands of American citizens, a few liberals happily apply the Second Amendment to Iran.  This new Second Amendment declares:  “Iran’s right to bear nuclear arms shall not be infringed.”  Call it the International Second Amendment (Nuclear Version).

The International Second Amendment differs from the arguments usually made against striking Iran.  These other arguments focus not on Iran’s purported right to nuclear arms, but on the necessity and feasibility of an attack.  They revolve around several factual questions which can be grouped under three headings:

What are Iran’s Intentions? Iran claims that it wants nuclear power only for peaceful uses.  Is Iran telling the truth?  If Iran is indeed seeking nuclear weapons, will it use them only in self-defense?  Does Iran intend to use nuclear weapons in a first strike against Israel or another country?  If Iran’s aim is aggression, can Iran be deterred by the nuclear arsenals of the West as was the Soviet Union during the Cold War?

Is a Preemptive Strike Feasible? Can Iran be disarmed by any means short of military force, such as inspections, diplomacy, or the latest round of UN sanctions, augmented by even harsher sanctions imposed by the United States?  Is a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities technically feasible?  Iran is farther away from Israel than either Iraq or Syria.  Can Israeli aircraft strike at that distance?  And is it possible to locate and destroy enough of Iran’s nuclear installations, many of which Iran has partly hidden underground?

What Will the Aftermath of an Attack Be? Would terrorism against the West increase?  Would Iran close the Straits of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, interrupting the flow of oil and plunging the world economy from recession into depression?

These are practical questions.  The International Second Amendment, on the other hand, is unconcerned with practicalities.  It argues that Iran is entitled to nuclear arms as a matter of principle.  Period.  The International Second Amendment is not a practical, but a philosophical, specifically an ethical, argument against taking action—any action, military or nonmilitary—against Iran.  Does the argument have merit?

Does Iran have a right to possess nuclear weapons?  The short answer is:  not if Iran intends to use them for aggression.  If it can be demonstrated that Iran does have hostile intent, is anyone prepared to argue that Iran still has a right to nuclear arms?  As Abraham Lincoln remarked:  there is “no right to do wrong.”

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  • Farid Aghabi

    Are you for real? "Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons is not hypocritical since Israel has not signed the NPT". What kind of argument is that? Intellectually bankrupt thats what.

    You also say that no country has the right to have nuclear weapons "if they intend to use them for aggression". First of all, who is to decide what each country's intentions are going to be in the future? The "international community" I suppose( i.e. the pro Israel lobby in the U.S.A)

    Fo your information, the only country that has ever used nuclear weapons aggressively is your very own, the good old U.S.A. In fact the nuclear attack on Japan was a nothing more than a shameless war crime (the deliberate targeting of a civillian population). Guess who was hanged hanged for war crimes? The Japanese leadership. So please spare us the talk about hypocrisy.

    I am not defending Iran. I don't think any country should have nuclear weapons. The only possible use of nuclear weapons is to commit war crimes. But when countries with nuclear weapons go around threatening countries that do not possess them, it is only natural that these threatened countries would feel the need to develop nuclear weapons of their own.

    The U.S.A, goaded by its master Israel, has created this mess by calling for Iran regime change and invading countries such as Iraq and threatening others such as Syria. Now it has to deal with the mess it has created.

    • USMCSniper

      Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said that the United States has no choice but to engage Iran in negotiations. Would further diplomatic negotiations encourage Iran to mitigate its ideology when in the past they have not? No, they would only intensify its hostility. Negotiations only buy Iran time. Above all, diplomacy grants Iran a moral legitimacy as a civilized regime: its hostile goals are death to America and the murder of Americans by Iranian proxy terrorists is a matter of record. Such appeasement confirms the perverse beliefs that Allah’s Jihadists hold, that materially weaker but morally self-righteous religious fanatics, can succeed in bringing down the mighty infidel West. We must learn the life-or-death importance of passing objective moral judgment. We must recognize the character of Iran and act accordingly. By any rational standard, Iran should be condemned and its nuclear ambition thwarted, now by massive military force.

    • Peter Lancz

      You are obviously a Jew-hating , antiIsrael, antiamerican, , pro-tyrannical, pro-barbarism, Islamic supremacist -so your response is a perfect reflection of who you are and what you stand for..Islamic Jihad

    • trickyblain

      Dropping the bombs saved Japan a great deal of suffering in the long run. Japan is now a stable Democracy with a top five economy. This is a good thing, no? Whould this have happened had the war pressed on for a few more months? Not likely.

      The USSR declared war on Japan two days after the Hiroshima bomb. They began a subsequent invasion of Japanese-held Manchuria. If the US were to initiate an invasion of the main island, the Russians would hve done the same at the other end. The result? An iron curtain in Japan. If you had your choice between East and West Germany in the late 40's, 50's, 60's 70's and 80's, which would you pick? West = prosperity, ingenuity, good quality of life. East = exact opposite. Japan could've very well faced the same fate. But the entire island propered. All because of a prudent surrender following a nuclear attack.

  • MullahAssassin

    You claim that you believe no country should have nuclear weapons. There are only 2 ways to make that happen: You either reduce current arsenals, or you prevent new ones from arising. Steps are being taken to reduce current arsenals by mature world powers (Russia, US) but the prospect of new one arising in the hands of islamic regimes (immature powers) doesn't seem to bother you as much.

    I think Muslims are the last people on earth you would want possessing nuclear weapons. I think Iran must be stopped to set a good example for other nuclear "aspirants".

  • Patrick

    Yes we are the only country on earth to use nuclear weapons on another country. A country led by a fanatical group of militants who would have preferred to see their entire population dead than surrender. Hmmn there is something vaguely familiar about that scenario.

    The truth is that nuclear weapons will likely be used sometime in my lifetime. But the cold war-mutual assured destruction, that I grew up with, probably won't happen. Eventually someone will realize that the limited nuclear exchange is a viable strategy for them, when that happens the world will lose a few more cities, a few million people, but the world itself and the billions of people on it will keep rolling on. I am confident that one way or another Iran is well down the path to resolving it's issues. :)

    • Farid Aghabi

      Guess you don't believe in the Geneva convention. Deliberately targeting civilian population is a war crime. These are the rules of war that the U.S.A. is committed to uphold. The U.S.A. has certainly committed war crimes during World War II. But I guess people can always come up with reasons for not applying the rules. Example the enemy was "led by a fanatical group of militants", or the enemy is an "illegal combatant".

      • Patrick

        LOL now that's funny! :) Did you just realize that now? But what do war crimes have to do with nuclear weapons. The firebombing of Tokyo by US forces killed tens of thousands more Japanese than did the atomic bomb. In total war there are no rules. It's not unique to the United States. The Brits did it to the Germans as did the Russians. The Turks did it to the Armenians as well. See we are all one when it comes to killing each other. It's good to have shared values, don't you think?

  • Dave

    Israel is disgusting.. and as a U.S citizen I do not support them only thru my hard earned tax money that I am forced to… Our government lost its way when we supported and condoned, all the cold blooded murder, thievery, kidnapping, piracy, their nuclear weapon arsenol. They are war criminals themselves and am ashamed that our government supports judeo-nazi's.. go to youtube and watch "if America knew what Israel was doing". and see the truth.

    • Patrick

      Dave,
      I don't want to hurt your feelings, it's good to see young people express themselves. You should know however that the nation that you live in has done far worse during it's existance than anything Isreal has ever done. You should look up the "Trail of Tears", "Slavery in the American South" and "Japanese American Internment: Manzanar" all occurred before the state of Isreal even existed. The US isn't a puppet state of Isreal. We can do our torture, oppression, and enslavement all by ourselves, heck we have a long and proud history of it. The skeletons in Isreal's closet are no different than those in most other countries. Compare Isreal to the Cambodian's for example, Pol Pot anyone? :)

    • Peter Lancz

      You are the only one who has lost his way..your antisemtic creed is in perfect sync with 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion" – Jew hating to the core-As Mark Twain said,' Jew-hatred is nothing other than the' Envy of Pygmie minds.'

  • thedirkster

    If there is a God given "International Second Amendment right (Nuclear Version) to bear arms, then the same rules should apply to the international version of this right as our national Second Amendment Rights. We don't sell guns to documented criminals or crazies. The international files are full of documentation that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s is not only a criminal but also completely insane. We don't give guns to criminals and crazies and we should not be giving Nuclear bombs to Iran, the mother of all criminals and Crazies. If Iran gets a nuclear weapon then we should treat them just like we would any crazy or criminal with a loaded gun pointed in our direction.

  • Guest-west coast

    None of the above commentators seems to be well informed. Geneva convention was convened due to atrocities of WWII. On another note-there must be something-to living in the desert that does not prevent being affected by the extremes of heat/sand and vast emptiness that seemingly tends to create the need to promote one's religious beliefs over another. But I guess it happens here in the US as well, but we do not have the same territorial /survival issues. Just saying.
    America was initially based upon Greco/Roman and Judeo/Christian beliefs. War and Peace (ie tolerance!)! But look at the great numbers of wars fought for those beliefs. History keeps repeating itself. The USA has world dominance in the last Century-due to the success of capitalism-entreprenurial thinking. The fall of Saddam accentuated the instability in the Middle East-did not stabilize it and as soon as US leaves Iraq, Iran will probably move against it. Not our war? This becomes Israel's Defense moment. The need for US military presence will not end due to these factors. If Iran uses nuclear weapons, the US or Russia could take out the entire country in short order-it would be a death wish on Iran's part if they did start an offense against Israel. US needs Afganistan/Pakistan, India and China to be pro-US, as anything less will result in a major meltdown. A united Russia and US is the main reason that nuclear disarmament exists. No other countries can ever match our existing arsenals. Nuclear power can be used peacefully-and for energy-but better if alternative energy sources can be used/invented, due to the waste and inherent dangers of nuclear weaponry. There will always be rouge nations, but as long as US/Russia are united in the end of nuclear proliferation, then diplomacy is the only real/lasting deterrent to global war.

  • Guest-west coast

    The Philosophy's of John Locke, an English liberal, was also a major influence of our Forefathers of the US Constitution.

  • richard

    a poster's assertion that 'no country should possess nukes', is frightening.
    our next military confrontation would involve boots on our own shores; (invasion).
    the principle players having nukes as a deterrent is what has kept the peace all these years.

    should iran have them? of course not. he has stated his intentions. anyone who thinks otherwise is mad,or an idiot. this is not a football game. we don't have to be fair. common sense should rule the day. this guy is a maniac, and would use nukes in a dangerous way.

  • Jack

    Another anti-Iran, demonization article full of lies and half truths.

    In the "73 war Israel armed its nukes and loaded them onto planes. It told the USA, provide us military aid, or we're using these bombs. The US, of course, complied.

    The neocons lied us into the unnecessary war with Iraq, which has served to practically bankrupt the country, and now they want to lie us into war with Iran, once again to benefit Jewish settler expansionism. They hate diplomacy and want ultra-crippling war-provoking sanctions. Our congressmen are nothing but Israel Lobby whores. This is of course what the warmongering Israel Lobby neocons yearn for. The blood is gushing from their fangs.

    • MixMChess

      "In the "73 war Israel armed its nukes and loaded them onto planes. It told the USA, provide us military aid, or we're using these bombs. The US, of course, complied."

      Did you just make this up out of thin air? No such thing ever occurred. The U.S. may have been Israel's main arms supplier by the mid-60's but Israel never used duress to procure arms. Don't forget providing arms to Israel was both economically and strategically beneficial to the US. Israel did not receive any grant military assistance from the US until after the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

      "The neocons lied us into the unnecessary war with Iraq, which has served to practically bankrupt the country, and now they want to lie us into war with Iran, once again to benefit Jewish settler expansionism."

      All of Israel's political and military leaders including Ariel Sharon (a supposed right-winger) advised AGAINST the US invasion of Iraq, fearing it would create more instability in the region. Since the invasion, Israel has been left in a much worse neighborhood with stronger Iranian hegemony and greater zeal among terrorist groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and Fatah.

      "They hate diplomacy and want ultra-crippling war-provoking sanctions. "

      Who walked away from Camp David in 2000? Oh, that's right it was the PALESTINIANS! NOT the Israelis. Get a clue moron.

      "Our congressmen are nothing but Israel Lobby whores."

      And there is also a secret Israel lobby that is stealing switching your coffee to decaf. Bwahahaha!

      "This is of course what the warmongering Israel Lobby neocons yearn for. The blood is gushing from their fangs."

      Nice use of a Blood libel from a Pali-Nazi. Funny enough, Hamas has publicly declared that they want to drink the blood of every last Jew on earth. Gee, I wonder who the real "vampires" are of the middle east?

  • Iranian Dissident

    Islamic Republic of Iran: Give them stones, they stone women, give them ropes they hang dissidents, give them guns they shoot demonstrators, GIVE THEM NUKES………

  • Liberal Amendment

    Liberal Second Amendment:

    The Right to Arm Bears !

  • vakil1974

    One correction is this article that everyone should know – I have heard also in press reports about how Obama and world leaders "outed" the Iranians about the "secret facility" in Qom, that is not the truth. The Iranian Government sent a letter to the IAEA a few days before the summit stating their intention to build the site. The US government and it allies twisted the media reports saying "we knew about it all along" and we did not want to let the Iranians know we knew – yeah right, if they had a smoking gun they would have been calling press reports in seconds.

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