January 28, 2007 by Will
The way things are going, international observers will soon need more than fluency in Farsi to understand Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s policies. One day he promises the U.S. and Israel “will soon come to the end of their lives”, and then he claims Iran is cooperating with IAEA inspectors after banning 38 of them from Iran. As Iran prepares to test a nuclear bomb with North Korean aid, though, Ahmadinejad’s game of self-contradiction has gone from confusing to a major threat to global stability.
London’s Telegraph newspaper reported last Wednesday that North Koreans have been helping Iran prepare to test a nuclear device so small it couldn’t be detected by international agencies. The two rogue dictators have helped each other achieve their nuclear goals before–in 2005, North Koreans visited Iran to build missile bunkers. This new collaboration is more worrisome, however, because it represents a closer union between two tyrants.
Previous United Nations reluctance to act against North Korea’s nuclear goals has only emboldened Ahmadenijad, according to the Telegraph:
The Iranians are reported to have been encouraged by the fact that no punitive action was taken against North Korea.
This demonstrates that in a globalized world, appeasement weakens security not just in a region but across the entire world. According to the Telegraph, Iran will be able to detonate a half-kiloton nuclear bomb underground within a year. The effects of even such a small explosion would be widespread. Iran’s influence over Iraq would increase, militant factions in Israeli would gain political capital, and neighboring states would aggressively pursue their own deterrent options.
The international community, especially the United Nations Security Council, needs to stop hoping someone else will deal with the problem of a nuclear collaboration between Iran and North Korea. The IAEA should be given some backbone, and the new sanctions against Iran should be aimed at Ahmadinejad’s regime, not the Iranian people. The pre-war sanctions against Iraq exposed the flaws in poorly-targeted sanctions. Additionally, North Korea’s Kim Jong Il should be punished if his aid to Ahmadinejad produces a bomb, even if it means he never gets an iPod again.
The only real solution to the problem, though, must come from the Iranian people. The North Korean people have been confused and beaten down by years of Juche militarism and propaganda. In Iran, there are still some civil liberties. There have been encouraging reports of increasing dissent within Iran. If the Iranian people change their government, or at least make a strong statement against nuclear escalation, no amount of dictatorial chicanery can build a nuclear arsenal.
Whatever happens, Ahmadinejad will continue to threaten other countries while claiming to be only interested in peace. Unfortunately, Ahmadinejad’s seemingly warring policy directives do not reflect a conflicted government. Rather, like some of history’s most dangerous dictators, he understands that the best way to sneak up on the world is with two steps forward and one step back.