We already have big news coming out of the UN Summit in Pittsburgh: Iran has a secret (or tried to have) nuclear plant where it can develop the material it needs to build a nuclear weapon. Should we really be surprised though?
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been trying to build up the countries nuclear proficiency since he's taken office. While he claims it is for the development of nuclear fuel for his own country, most people are a little skeptic. I mean, he is a denier of the holocaust, has been called one of the leading sponsors of terrorism around the world, and (as we have seen with his recent "re-election" Iran's human rights record isn't too great either.
This is all known, but what concerns me most is what could lead if Iran does become capable of creating a nuclear weapon. Carlos Pascual and Steven Pifer of the Brookings Institution wrote in a column that:
Over 30 countries have declared an intent to develop new nuclear programs – 14 in the Middle East and North Africa. Should Iran acquire a nuclear weapon, there is little doubt that others in the region will follow suit. Now is the time for the United States and Russia to revitalize the framework for nuclear security, not after countries acquire a nuclear weapon.
President Obama has made very clear, and did so again at his speech at the U.N., that this is a time for action and America is willing to lead. When Obama first met with Russian President Demitri Medvedev the two men set the ground work for re-establishing talks and signing a new Non-Proliferation Treaty. This was a important step on two fronts. The first (and yes, obvious point) is that it will cease the creation of new nuclear weapons which have the potential to destroy the Earth. The second is that by taking these steps, Iran and other countries that are trying to build a nuclear weapon will have less of an incentive to do so. If the two leading countries start to take apart their weapons, other countries won't have a reason to build there's because they will not see themselves vulnerable by not having one.
Former Russian President Mihhail Gorbachev wrote an op-ed in today's New York Times. He promotes nuclear non-proliferation for similar reasons and writes:
Unless they show the world they are serious, the two major nuclear powers will be accused, again and again, of not keeping their word and told that if it is acceptable for 5 or 10 countries to have nuclear weapons as their “ultimate security guarantee,” why should it not be the case for 20 or 30 others?No one wants Iran to have a nuclear weapon. It's in no one's interest except Iran.
It is vital that the two presidents themselves monitor the negotiations closely, sometimes plunging into minute details. I know from experience how difficult it is to deal with such technical details on top of constant political pressures, but it is necessary to avoid misunderstandings that could undermine trust.
There has been talk of puting more sanctions on Iran, but what good would that do? This is a country whose unemployment rate was 12.5% in 2008. It's important to note that officials don't believe Iran has the materials to actually make a nuclear bomb. That's exactly why it's important to show Iran, not tell, that it dosen't need one.