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Iran's Nuclear Aspirations

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Daniel R. Coats and Charles S. Robb are correct that a nuclear-armed Iran would be intolerable and would cause a domino effect of further nuclear weaponization in the region ["Stopping a Nuclear Tehran," op-ed, Oct. 23].

However, to deal properly with Iran, one must not overhype the threat but rather attempt to understand Iran's motivations, something that the National Defense University at Fort McNair has done. A 2005 NDU study concluded that Iran desires nuclear weapons mainly because it feels strategically isolated and that "possession of such weapons would give the regime legitimacy, respectability, and protection." In other words, Iran desires nuclear weapons for the purpose of deterrence, just like every other nuclear-armed nation. The NDU study continued, "[W]e judge, and nearly all experts consulted agree, that Iran would not, as a matter of state policy, give up its control of such weapons to terrorist organizations and risk direct U.S. or Israeli retribution." And it said the "United States has options short of war that it could employ to deter a nuclear-armed Iran and dissuade further proliferation."

The most sensible way to approach the Iranian nuclear issue would be to work seriously toward confidence building and eliminating nuclear weapons from the entire Middle East, including those in Israel.

YOUSAF MAHMOOD BUTT

Cambridge, Mass.

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