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Nuclear Weapons in the Middle East

Written by Mike Minehan on .

 A number of uncertainties remain about the question of Iran and nuclear weapons.

Iran claims that it doesn't intend to develop nuclear weapons, but it has hidden its nuclear research facilities in the past, and has been duplicitous about its nuclear research and development. Fox News claims that Iran is already cheating on the nuclear deal recently negotiated with the six nations, led by the USA. Admittedly Fox News is anti-President Obama, and is pro-republican, but the following analyais is still food for thought:

 Also, the future inspection protocols recently agreed to by Iran and the six nations led by the USA, are loose, to say the least.

The I.A.E.A. will have the right to visit suspicious sites "anywhere in the country," but Iran has 24 days to comply with a request. The wild card here is Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said after the deal was brokered that there could be no inspections of military facilities.

Then there's the problem with the US Congress. Republicans have an anti-Obama majority and have stated they will refuse to ratify the Iran agreement. The President can veto this refusal, but only if the Republicans fail to muster two thirds of the votes in Congress.

Israel is intensely lobbying members of Congress to vote against the deal.

And anyway, at the very best, the deal reached between Iran and the six nations is only aimed at slowing down Iran's race to build the bomb, not to prevent it entirely. According to the best information available, Iran's path to the bomb will now take ten years, instead of the few months that appeared inevitable before the deal was reached.

Iran sees itself as the Shiite power bloc in the Middle East, and as a bulwark against the Sunni bloc, led by Saudi Arabia. Iran already supports Shiite rebel groups in the Lebanon (Hezbollah), Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

An outside observer could be forgiven for thinking that Iran has been prepared to temporarily shelve its ambitions for nuclear weapons in return for the shorter term gains of having economic sanctions against it lifted. But the outcome seems inevitable that, sooner or later, Iran will have its own nuclear warheads.

And if Iran gets nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia will not want to be left behind, not to mention other oil and gas rich states such as Qatar and U.A.E.

Israel is already estimated to have 80 nuclear warheads, about the same number as both India and Pakistan.

Most analysts agree there are currently close to 16,000 nuclear weapons in existence, 90 percent of which are owned by the U.S. and Russia.

But even more nuclear weapons in the Middle East, where enraged religious leaders have their fingers on the buttons, well, this is the stuff of nightmares... especially if a terrorist group gets its hands on just one of them.

On the positive side, if there is one, the lifting of sanctions against Iran, and the opening up of trade with the rest of the world, might, just might, result in an Iran that is less secretive, paranoid and bellicose.

But this is a long call...