The U.S. warns that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons that could threaten America and its allies. Iran says nuclear weapons violate Islamic law, and that Iran only wants to develop nuclear capability to produce electricity, to supplement its oil reserves. However, if Iran develops nuclear capability for energy, it will also have the capability to develop nuclear weapons.
Iran has had a limited nuclear program for 17 years. It will take another seven to ten years for Iran to develop nuclear capability. Iran cannot develop nuclear capability without outside help.
Arguments By Those Who Believe That Iran Should Develop Nuclear Weapons
1. Iran views America as an enemy and a potential threat. The U.S. says it has the right to preemptively use nuclear weapons against “rogue states.” Therefore, Iran needs a nuclear deterrent, to prevent the use of American nuclear weapons against Iranian civilians. Any war between America and Iran is less likely if both are nuclear powers, because then they are more likely to try to resolve their differences peacefully. Iran is aware that the U.S. invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, which did not have nuclear weapons, but the U.S. avoided military confrontation with North Korea, which has nuclear weapons. An Iranian nuclear weapon would mean less American leverage over Iran.
2. Iran’s neighbors — China, India, Israel, Pakistan, and Russia — are nuclear powers. In particular, Iran views Israel as an enemy and a potential threat. Iran needs nuclear weapons to create a balance of power and ensure peace (through nuclear deterrence) in the region, and to prevent the use of regional nuclear weapons against Iranian civilians. Any war between Iran and its neighbors is less likely if all are nuclear powers, because then they are more likely to try to resolve their differences peacefully.
3. If other nuclear powers disarmed, Iran would not need nuclear weapons. However, no country is going to eliminate its nuclear weapons, because every country wants an edge. Nuclear disarmament is not even on the radar of the American people. It was not an issue in the 2004 presidential campaign. Furthermore, if it’s God’s plan for the world to end in a nuclear war (Doomsday), how can human beings avoid that?
4. The use of nuclear weapons might violate Islamic law, but possession of nuclear weapons would not violate Islamic law. Iranian nuclear weapons would never be intended for use; they would just be a deterrent against the use of nuclear weapons against Iranian civilians.
5. Just because a Muslim country has nuclear weapons does not mean those weapons will fall into the hands of Al Qaeda. Pakistan has not given its nuclear weapons to Al Qaeda. Furthermore, Iran is unlikely to allow nuclear weapons to fall into the hands of Al Qaeda, because they are ideological rivals; Al Qaeda wants to establish a Sunni Caliphate, while Iran is a Shia state. (In fact, Al Qaeda in Iraq is at war with Shias in Iraq.)
6. In light of the “Clash of Civilizations,” the Muslim world needs as many nuclear powers as possible, to avoid domination by others. Iran may not be able to count on Pakistan’s “Islamic bomb,” if the two countries have differences, or if Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities are destroyed. Iran has said it would share its nuclear technology with other Muslim countries.
Arguments By Those Who Believe That Iran Should Not Develop Nuclear Weapons
1. America views Iran as an enemy and a potential threat. An Iranian nuclear weapon would make Iran a more dangerous enemy, potentially putting the lives of Americans (including American Muslims) at risk. In addition to being able to eventually strike the American homeland, Iran could use (or threaten to use) nuclear weapons against American forces in the Middle East. Iran could also threaten American allies and jeopardize American access to cheap Middle Eastern oil. An Iranian nuclear weapon would mean less American leverage over Iran.
2. Israel views Iran as an enemy and a potential threat. Iran has called for the destruction of Israel. America is committed to the protection of Israel. If Iran attacks Israel with a nuclear weapon, America could be drawn into a nuclear war, potentially putting the lives of Americans (including American Muslims) at risk.
3. Nuclear weapons are dangerous, and they open the door to nuclear war, even by accident; that could destroy the world (Doomsday). It is better to create a worldwide movement to disarm all nuclear powers rather than allow Iran to go nuclear. Conventional weapons are sufficient for each country’s self-defense.
4. Nuclear weapons violate Islamic law, because they would certainly kill noncombatants.
5. Al Qaeda has expressed an interest in acquiring nuclear weapons. Iranian nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of Al Qaeda, which would use such weapons against America. Even though Al Qaeda and Iran are ideological rivals, they have a common enemy: America.
6. Pakistan already has an “Islamic bomb,” so it can protect the interests of Muslims without Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon.