By Sal Bommarito
Nuclear proliferation is now one of the most important global issues. Iran and North Korea are creating increasing tension and concern throughout the world.
In the 50s and 60s, I still recall the threat of a nuclear confrontation between the Soviet Union and the U.S. We practiced taking cover at school in the event of an attack, as if hiding under a desk would shield us from a nuclear blast. Ironically, the chances of a nuclear war at the time were much smaller than now.
Nikita Khrushchev was the leader of the Soviet Union in those days. He was portrayed in the American press as a maniacal dictator, but a person to be feared. His control over the Soviet nuclear arsenal was a blessing that we did not appreciate until much later. The Soviet Union’s leaders knew that if they launched their missiles at America, we would launch ours in response. The world would be over, for all intents and purposes, as major cities in both countries would be destroyed by the blasts of atomic weapons, and subsequent radiation fallout. This was known as mutually assured destruction.
The situation today is much more disconcerting. Although the chances of a global nuclear holocaust are minimal, the chances for a region nuclear encounter are growing every day. Why? The two countries that have, or will have nukes in the near term, are not to be trusted. Of course, I refer to Iran and North Korea.
Some pundits insist that the crazed leaders of the aforementioned countries know that they will be obliterated if they employ their nuclear weapons, so they will never do so (similar to the Soviet standoff with the U.S.). However, radical Islamic insanity may supersede good judgment and drive the ayatollahs in Iran to do something crazy.
Similarly, the ultimate leader of North Korea, a thirty-something year old megalomaniac might feel slighted one morning by actions taken by South Korea, Japan or even China. In response, he may launch nuclear missiles at one of his neighbors.
Can anyone think of two worse countries to possess strategic weapons? Our president decided that stalling, not preventing, Iran for perhaps ten years from developing a nuclear weapon was a good idea . Keep in mind, the Iranians are notorious cheaters and are likely to continue prohibited activities, so they might have a bomb sooner. In the meantime, Iran denounces America on a regular basis, says we are not dealing with them honestly and continues to destabilize Sunni regimes throughout the Middle East. The radical religious perspectives of the Iranian leadership are not easily predicted, no matter what anyone says.
Many Americans believe the U.S. should walk away from the Iran deal and increase sanctions; this will surely happen if a Republican wins the White House in November. The best non-military tactic would be to bankrupt Iran and destroy it economically. This would delay the production of a nuclear device, decrease the amount of resources it might use for its insurgent activities and possibly result in a revolution and a regime change. Currently, the Obama administration plans to decrease sanctions and return $100 billion absconded from Iran.
Another issue that no one seems to be focusing on is that Iran and the Shiite sect are a small part of the Islam universe; Shiites account for 10% of all Muslims; Shiites and Sunnis have been fighting with each other for more than a century. Shiites total 150-200 million; 66 million are located in Iran. It is likely that the Sunnis will overwhelm Shiites in the long-term, if all other things remain equal. The game changer for Iran is a nuclear weapon. This capability will tilt the balance of power to the Shiite minority.
North Korea is an example of horrible foreign policy by the U.S. and China. The Clinton administration attempted to make peace with North Korea; how did that work out? It was a fruitless effort. Kim Jong-un and his predecessors (dad and grand dad) have blatantly violated mandates to halt the country’s nuclear program. Kim has tested nuclear devices along with long-range missiles, all without any meaningful response from the global community. The U.S. has objected, the U.N. has no influence and China mysteriously allows their next-door neighbor to create more tension.
Frankly, the only non-military chance for a cessation of North Korea’s nuclear program lies with the China. The latter has total economic power over the former. It is inconceivable that Xi Jimping has allowed Kim to create such a stir. Rumor has it that Xi is particularly upset with Kim’s recent escapades including testing a (so-called) hydrogen bomb near the Chinese border and shooting missiles into the ocean.
It’s time the civilized global community put a stop to nuclear proliferation by irresponsible regimes. The world is in grave danger with such powerful weapons in the hands of volatile leaders.