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Nuclear 'Balance of Terror' Fails in Ukraine, and Iran Gains

B. Michael
B. Michael
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An Iranian security person inthe Uranim Conversion Facility just outside the city of Isfahan, Iran, in 2005.
An Iranian security person inthe Uranim Conversion Facility just outside the city of Isfahan, Iran, in 2005. Credit: VAHID SALEMI /AP
B. Michael
B. Michael

In 1991, when Ukraine declared independence, it had the world’s third-largest arsenal of nuclear weapons, with 1,960 nuclear warheads and 176 intercontinental ballistic missiles. The entire arsenal remained in Ukraine even after the dissolution of the Soviet bloc.

In 1993, Prof. John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago published an article warning that if Ukraine relinquished its nuclear arms, sooner or later it would become the target of Russian aggression. Few paid this warning any heed.

In 1994, Ukraine decided to get rid of its nuclear arsenal and to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In return, Russia, Britain and the United States signed the Budapest Memorandum: a solemn commitment by these three major powers “to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine ... to refrain from the threat or use of force [or economic coercion] against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine.”

In February 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded the Crimean Peninsula. In February 2022, he invaded all of Ukraine. On the morning of the invasion, Putin probably wiped his butt with pages from the Budapest Memorandum. The U.S. president and the British prime minister likely did the same.

Why didn’t they immediately go to war? Because you don’t rush to battle against an egomaniac with imperial delusions and the eyes of a dead fish who continually brandishes his nuclear arsenal.

So, this war will go on. There’s no knowing where it will lead, but it’s absolutely clear who has already gained the most from it: The Islamic Republic of Iran.

How? As follows: Putin, Biden and all the others who are stirring the pot have together created a scenario beyond the Iranians’ wildest dreams – a nuclear bully abusing a country that gave up its nuclear weapons after naively buying the solemn commitments of three nuclear powers. And now, in Vienna, these same dishonest powers are demanding that Iran end its own efforts to become a nuclear power.

“Ah,” the Iranian delegates will chuckle, “so you want us to be Ukraine. To give up the effort to be admitted to your club, and in return you’ll promise to treat us nicely, right? That’s a good one. We’ve seen this week what you and your commitments are worth, and what happens to countries that don’t have the bomb.”

And they are right. Just look at the fates of Syria, Iraq, Vietnam, Kuwait and other non-nuclear states. And then look at Russia, the U.S., India, North Korea, Pakistan and another small and hidden one that are up to their necks in nuclear weapons, and which haven’t had a hair on their head touched despite their abominations. In a cynical, feckless world, there’s no better security for murderous bastards than having a few bombs in the closet. It’s the only thing that gives them the license to be a-holes. Iran has surely internalized this lesson. And it will surely make good use of it.

Once upon a time, years ago, the world dreamed of a nuclear “balance of terror” that would guarantee world peace. That turned out to be naive (or cynical) rubbish. Maybe the time has come to consider a new vision. One that is refreshingly even more cynical, such as nuclear weapons for all. From Luxembourg to Canada, San Marino to Congo, from Palestine to Brazil. An atomic bomb for everyone, without exception. So everyone will know they better not mess with anyone else.

And if that doesn’t bring world peace, then the time has really come to evacuate the planet: God has clearly had enough of us anyway, his wrath is already palpable.

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