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Iran Hawks’ Phony Concern for Nonproliferation

Hard-liners prefer an Iranian nuclear program that faces no real scrutiny and has no restrictions placed upon it.

Charles Krauthammer makes a number of absurd claims in his latest column. This was the funniest:

Such an agreement also means the end of nonproliferation. When a rogue state defies the world, continues illegal enrichment and then gets the world to bless an eventual unrestricted industrial-level enrichment program, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is dead.

One may reasonably question the sincerity of any hard-line opponent of negotiations with Iran when it comes to support for nonproliferation. If they had their way, the P5+1 would have insisted on such impossible conditions that the interim agreement would have never been reached and Iran’s nuclear program would be under fewer constraints than it is today. Instead of a ten-year deal that limits Iran’s nuclear program over the next decade, there would have been no limits at all. Because they want a deal with conditions that Iran would never accept, the hard-liners prefer an Iranian nuclear program that faces no real scrutiny and has no restrictions placed upon it. Iran hawks feign concern with proliferation while doing all that they can to create incentives for it.

The absurdity of Krauthammer’s complaint is made all the more clear by the fact that multiple states that are not party to the NPT have acquired nuclear weapons in the past, and the U.S. is now on good terms with all of them. Israel, India, and Pakistan are not members of the nonproliferation regime, they have fairly large nuclear arsenals, and yet the NPT remains in force. Indeed, it is because Iran belongs to the NPT that its nuclear program is placed under so much international scrutiny. In spite of the obvious spread of nuclear weapons that has taken place, the proliferation in states that don’t belong to the NPT hasn’t killed off the NPT. Almost all states around the world are signatories, and they adhere to its provisions. Even if one state that belongs to the NPT violates the terms of the treaty, that doesn’t make the treaty any less successful in discouraging nuclear proliferation everywhere else. The best way to ensure that Iran continues to adhere to the terms of the NPT is to press ahead with the negotiations and to reach a final deal. Failing to do this won’t limit Iran’s nuclear program, but it will take away the best chance the U.S. and the other members of the P5+1 have to resolve this matter peacefully.

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