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Chapter 7: The Military, Security, and Politics (Introduction to Middle East Politics)

Nuclear Weapons

In recent years, The US, UK, France, China, North Korea, and Russia have been trying to publicize their nuclear threshold, but Israel have denied being the first state in the Middle East to possess nuclear capabilities despite evidence to the contrary.

Arguments that support Israel’s nuclear program say that it is a powerful negotiating tool, deterrence, and gives Israel strategic autonomy.

The US have supported Israel’s nuclear monopoly since 1979. But at one point, they supported Iran’s nuclear program, when it was under the rule of the Shah. The discovery of Iran’s nuclear capabilities in 2002 has seen change in the policy of ‘deliberate ambiguity’.

The Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 saw Iran halt its nuclear activities before resuming it in the 1980’s, when Iraq’s nuclear program was revealed. Iran moved away from US technology, and sought the help of China, Pakistan, and Russia, while starting indigenous projects.

In the 1990’s, Russia assisted in Iran in completing the nuclear facility at Bushehr despite US pressure to stop support for Iran. This was when the key themes emerged, that continue to define the debate over this issue today.

Iran argue that its programme is legal under International Atomic Energy (IAE) guidelines, while the US and Israel argue that Iran has no intent to limit their nuclear power for peaceful purposes.

Definitions of Terrorism

US Department of Defense: ‘the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological’.

George Washington University Professor Walter Reich: ‘a strategy of violence designed to promote desired outcomes by instilling fear in the public at large’

ICJ Justice Rosalyn Higgins: ‘a term without any legal significance. It is merely a convenient way of alluding to activities, whether of states or of individuals widely disapproved of and in which either the methods used are unlawful, or the targets protected or both.’

Defining terrorism is problematic because it depends on who you are describing, and not what they are doing. A state that acts with violence is forgiven, but a non-state group that uses violence are terrorists, and they are an enemy of the public.

Yet terrorist groups think of themselves as having ‘altruistic’ motives, that is, they think that their actions are benefiting the broader community.

An Introduction to Middle East PoliticsChapter 7: The Military, Security, and Politics (Introduction to Middle East Politics) 1

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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