Linton Brooks on the Iran Nuclear Challenge
Linton F. Brooks, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations Task Force on U.S. nuclear weapons policy, comments on the challenge we face regarding Iran’s nuclear proliferation. Brooks, who has experience in arms negotiating, says once Iran gains a nuclear weapon, countries like Turkey and Saudi Arabia likely will follow. He calls this challenge bigger than the problem of North Korea. An excerpt of Brooks’s interview:
“Let’s talk about Iran, because that’s the issue that gets the most attention these days. The Iranians keep insisting that they’re only enriching uranium for purposes of peaceful nuclear power development. Yet everybody around the world seems to assume that they’re doing this to have the possibility to develop nuclear weapons. What’s your read on this situation?
“They’re at minimum preserving the option. I have no idea whether they’ve made any firm decisions, but what we know is that they have been in violation of their International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] safeguards. We know that they have been in violation of UN Security Council resolutions calling on them to suspend the enrichment. We believe that there was a military program. We know that enrichment is the long pole of the tent. Every economic analysis shows that it would be far more cost-effective for them to accept, for example, the Russian offer for joint enrichment at Angarsk, in Russia.
“What seems to be going on is a combination of two things. One is national pride. The Iranians are a proud people who are very conscious of the fact that they are part of an ancient civilization. There is an element of national pride. It’s very hard to find an Iranian who doesn’t support their nuclear program in some way or another. But it also appears to many of us that they are at least preserving the option for acquiring nuclear weapons. I certainly believe that, and the Task Force makes the point that they can produce a weapon with highly enriched uranium within a few months.”