Powered by WebAds

Monday, February 21, 2011

If Iran goes nuclear, will the US raise an umbrella in the Middle East?

Remember back in July 2009 when we all got upset because Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proposed protecting American allies from Iranian and North Korean nuclear weapons with a 'nuclear umbrella'? At the time, that statement upset a lot of people because it was taken as an indication that the Obama administration was not serious about stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Fast forward a year and a half. There is no more confidence that the US is going to take effective action against Iran, and now the idea of a 'nuclear umbrella' is being raised seriously in academic circles (Hat Tip: Instapundit).
If Iran is successful in developing a nuclear weapons capability, would the United States be willing to extend its umbrella of nuclear deterrence to protect allies in the Middle East?

That is a question the United States needs to start evaluating, according to Franklin C. Miller, a principal with the Scowcroft Group and a former member of President George W. Bush's National Security Council and special assistant to the president.

"I certainly believe people need to be thinking about that," Miller said today during a speech on the second day of the Nuclear Deterrence Summit being held just outside Washington in Crystal City, Va. The summit is hosted by Nuclear Weapons & Materials Monitor, part of ExchangeMonitor Publications.

Even though official government policy at this time is to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state, Miller said it's important to start looking at whether the U.S. would want to offer a nuclear shield to that region and, if so, what steps would be needed to accomplish it.


Would Congress and the American people be willing to put the homeland at risk to protect a Middle Eastern state? And, if Iran does develop nuclear weaponry, would its neighbors in the region be sufficiently assured by the U.S. offer of deterrence that they would give up their own nuclear option?

Miller's presentation created a buzz at the summit, which has attracted some of the leading voices in the nuclear weapons community.

One audience member quizzed Miller about why he thought it was necessary to raise the specter of using nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

"If you're comfortable having four or five new nuclear states in the Middle East, then that's fine. I'm not comfortable with that," Miller said.

Another audience member asked whether he thought Israel, which has a well known but undeclared nuclear capability, would accept an offer of protection under the U.S. nuclear umbrella.

"No," Miller responded bluntly.
After the last month or so, what allies is the US likely to have left in this region once the revolutions are completed? You can cross Egypt off, you may be able to cross Bahrain off, and possibly Yemen and even Saudi Arabia too. So who is left other than Israel, which would rather defend itself?

And that assumes that you could deter Iran. I don't believe you can, and if you click the Instapundit link above, you'll see that he has an expert who doesn't believe you can either.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home