For the past decade, America and her allies have been on their guard when it comes to the controversy surrounding Iran and its nuclear ambitions. Some people believe that Iran's sole intentions are for peaceful purposes, and perhaps you are one of them, but I can assure you that they are not. The facts are evident. Their intentions are clear. Iran is a power crazed nation that is bent on becoming a nuclear power.
Before I delve into the current controversies surrounding Iran's nuclear program, I would like to introduce you to a brief history if Iran's nuclear past. Iran began its nuclear program as a testament to its self-acclaimed greatness as a modern nation and as an ancient civilization during the ruling of the late Shah, or King, who ruled from 1941 to 1979 (Inbar). In February of 2003, Iran's president Mohammad Khatami personally invited the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect its formerly hidden nuclear facilities. A formal report was published and the IAEA gave Iran a demand to present all the information surrounding their nuclear program by no later than October 31, 2003. It did not reveal it, however, until February 9, 2003 after receiving pressure from the United States, Russia, Japan, and the European Union (Sahimi). It is also important to note that, as stated in Sahimi's article, "the Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty (NPT) allows Iran to legally build any nuclear facility, including one for uranium enrichment, so long as it is intended for peaceful purposes." (Sahimi) It is important to note the key words in this quote, "peaceful purposes." How do we truly know and detect Iran's intentions behind its seemingly elusive nuclear program? In Part III of Sahimi's Iran's Nuclear Program, he states:
In 1985, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) located over 5,000 metric tons of uranium ore in the desert in eastern part of Yazd province. This represents one of the largest deposits of uranium ore in the Middle East. The ore must first undergo a semiprocess to be converted to a powder, usually called the yellowcake. Iran is building a facility in Ardakan for this purpose. The yellowcake is then further processed to produce uranium hexafluoride (UF_6) which is in gaseous state. The facility for doing this is being built in Esfahan (Isfahan). Uranium has two important isotopes (that is, two slightly different versions of it with slightly different atomic masses) which are uranium-235 and uranium-238 (the numbers represent the atomic masses). It is uranium-238 that may be used in making nuclear weapons, but also in nuclear reactors. The Esfahan facility will also produce uranium oxide and uranium metal, both of which have civilian as well as military applications. (Sahimi, Iran's Nuclear Program. Part III: The Emerging Crisis)
Iran claims to be building up its nuclear program in order for greater access to energy. However, it is no secret that Iran is one of the world's largest suppliers of oil. It is estimated that, according to Oil and Gas Journal, Iran has nearly 10 percent of the worlds petroleum stockpiled into its reserves. This obviously doesn't sound like a nation desperately in need of alternative sources of energy, so we can definitely scratch "civilian application" off the list. This gives us no other choice but to believe that Iran's ambitions are bent towards the production of a nuclear weapon.
Now that we have established that Iran is indeed intending on obtaining nuclear arms, what are our options and which ones lie within our best interests as a nation? According to Christopher Hemmer's "Responding to a Nuclear Iran", America has three primary interests in the Persian Gulf: to protect and maintain a steady flow of oil into the global market, to prevent hostilities in the region, and to reduce the threat of possible terrorist attacks. (Hemmer) Since all diplomatic attempts seem to take the United States and her allies' one step forward and two steps back, some have suggested that a preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear reactors is the one and only solution. With that being said, how could the effects of a preemptive strike be problematic? A preemptive strike may in fact eradicate Iran's nuclear facilities along with any of their future intentions, but the effect on the global market would be cataclysmic. As I have stated previously, Iran controls the majority of the oil exported from the middle-east to the west. A strike on Iran's nuclear facilities will probably, more than likely, halt the production of crude oil and its probable expenditure would, by far, outweigh the benefits.