February 29, 2012
By Robert Fisk
If Iran obtains nuclear weapons capability, “I think other nations across the Middle East will want to develop nuclear weapons”.
Thus thundered our beloved Foreign Secretary, William Hague, in one of the silliest pronouncements he has ever made. Hague seems to spend much of his time impersonating himself, so I’m not really certain which of Mr Hague-Hague’s personas made this statement.
Flaw number one, of course, is Hague-Hague’s failure to point out that there already is another Middle East “nation” that has, in fact, several hundred nuclear weapons along with the missiles to fire them. It’s called Israel. But blow me down, Hague-Hague didn’t mention the fact. Didn’t he know? Of course, he did. What he was trying to say, you see, was that if Iran persisted in producing a nuclear weapon, Arab states – Muslim states – would want to acquire one. And that would never do. The idea, of course, that Iran might be pursuing nuclear weapons because Israel already possesses them, did not occur to him.
Now as a nation that sells billions of pounds worth of military hardware to Gulf Arab nations – on the basis that they can then defend themselves from Iran’s non-existent plans to invade them – Britain is really not in a position to warn anyone of arms proliferation in the region. I’ve been to the Gulf arms fairs where the Brits show alarming films of an “enemy” nation threatening the Arabs – Iran, of course – and the need for these Arab chappies to buy even more kit from British Aerospace and the rest of our merchants of death.
Then comes the historical killer in Hague-Hague’s peroration. He warns of “the most serious round of nuclear proliferation since nuclear weapons were invented” which could produce “the threat of a new Cold War in the Middle East” that would be “a disaster in world affairs”. Now, I know that Hague-Hague sits in the throne room of Balfour and Eden – both pseudo-experts on the Middle East – but does he really have to mess up history so badly? Surely the most serious round of nuclear proliferation occurred when India and Pakistan acquired the bomb, the latter a nation which is awash with al-Qa’ida chaps, home-grown Talibans and dodgy intelligence men.
Still, it was good to be reassured that “we are not favouring the idea of anybody attacking Iran at the moment”. Maybe later, then. Or maybe after President Assad eventually falls, thus depriving Iran of its only – and valuable – ally in the Middle East. Which is, I suspect, what a lot of the roaring and raging against Assad is all about. Get rid of Assad and you cut out part of Iran’s heart – though whether that will induce the crackpot Ahmadinejad to turn his nuclear plants into baby-milk factories is another matter. For here’s the rub. The mighty voices calling for Assad’s departure grow louder every time they refuse to involve themselves militarily in the overthrow of the same man. The more they promise not to “do a Nato” on Syria – every time they claim there can be no “no-fly” zones over Syria – they get angrier and angrier at Assad. Why doesn’t he just go off to retirement in Turkey, end the theatre once and for all, and stop embarrassing us all by bludgeoning his country with shells and sniper fire, killings thousands – journalists among them – while we rage on innocently from the stalls?
April 8, 2010
By: George Jhan and Vladimir Isachenkov
Seeking to end years of rancor, President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday signed the biggest nuclear arms pact in a generation and envisioned a day when they can compromise on the divisive issue of missile defense.
The new treaty, the first of its kind in two decades and nearly a year in the making, signaled a bold new opening in relations between the former Cold War foes. Both leaders hoped for more progress on economic matters and potentially even deeper cuts in their robust nuclear arsenals, while the Russian president still warned of potential pitfalls ahead.
The pact will shrink the limit of nuclear warheads to 1,550 per country over seven years. That still allows for mutual destruction several times over. But it is intended to send a strong signal that Russia and the U.S. – which between them own more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons – are serious about disarmament.
Obama and Medvedev reaffirmed their commitment to considering new sanctions against Iran if the Islamic republic continues to refuse to suspend uranium enrichment and start talks on its nuclear program.
Medvedev said it’s regrettable that Iran has not responded to many constructive proposals the international community has offered, and it’s possible the United Nations Security Council will have to take up the issue. And Obama said the U.S. will not tolerate any actions by Iran that risk an arms race in the Middle East or threaten the credibility of the international community.
They spoke after sitting side-by-side in an elegant hall in the Czech Republic capital city, signing the nuclear arms deal that awaits ratification by the Russian legislature and the U.S. Senate. The White House lobbying effort on ratification is under way.
The upbeat U.S. president said he was confident that Democrats and Republicans would ratify the treaty in the Senate, where 67 votes will be required.
“Today is an important milestone for nuclear security and nonproliferation, and for U.S.-Russia relations,” Obama said. Medvedev hailed the signing as a historic event that would launch a new chapter of cooperation between the countries.
Inside the hall, the anticipated moment came as the two presidents picked up their pens, glanced at each other and grinned as they signed several documents, with aides transferring the papers back and forth so all would have both signatures. When it was done, the leaders seemed momentarily at a loss, with Medvedev flashing a smile and a shrug before they stood to shake hands.
Obama said the treaty sets a foundation for further cuts in nuclear arms.
And he pledged more conversation with Medvedev about missile defense, which remains a sticky issue between the countries as the U.S. moves ahead with plans it calls no threat to Russia. Obama said the missile defense system envisioned is not aimed at changing the “strategic balance” with Russia but rather as a way to counter launches from other countries.
Medvedev said he was optimistic about reaching a compromise on the matter.