By Dalga Khatinoglu
It's been 53 years since Bertrand Russell published his book, titled "Has Man a Future?" In the book, Russell urged the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union to immediately destroy their nuclear weapons, and warned against other nation's ambitions to build such weapons.
As Russell and many other theorists had predicted, production of such weapons - thermonuclear weapons are probably capable of destroying the whole human culture and even the human race - didn't remain limited to those mentioned countries. Today, at least nine countries own nuclear weapons.
Abdul Qadeer Khan's case in Pakistan and North Korea's irresponsible government prove the fact that keeping the secrets of nuclear bomb production technology from non-nuclear nations is practically impossible.
We should never forget that the Manhattan Project, aimed at building the first atomic bomb, was nothing but a rivalry with Nazi Germany that was suspected of pursuing a nuclear bomb. However, once the World War II ended, it was proved that Hitler never had such a plan. Worse than this is the fact the Harry Truman - who had led the U.S. Government after the sudden death of President Franklin Roosevelt just three weeks before the end of the World War II -ordered the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
After Roosevelt's death, an unopened letter was found on his desk. It was from Niels Bohr - the world's second greatest physicist next to Albert Einstein - who had strongly warned against using atomic bombs. After that, some world-renowned physicists including Einstein signed a petition calling for destruction of all nuclear bombs; since there was no doubt that the Soviet Union would also master the technology in a few years.
As the results of the nuclear superpowers' policies show, during the Cold War days not only the communists and capitalist failed to hold frank and trusty negotiations in this regard, but also in the name of peace and security, the number of weapons of mass destruction grew significantly.
I want to highlight some issues as Iran and the P5+1 nuclear talks resume in Vienna on Feb.18:
1. None of the countries in possession of nuclear weapons want to give them to another country.
2. Humanitarian and patriotic slogans in favor of producing and keeping nuclear weapons to face the enemies affect the society's morals in such a way that no nation is willing to destroy its nuclear weapons, since they consider it as surrendering to the country's foes. For example, no presidential candidate has ever managed to gain the support of people by promising to destroy nuclear weapons.
We should also never forget about the insincere plan proposed by the former dictator of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev, in 1959. He proposed the global destruction of nuclear weapons, knowing that the West's pride would never allow accepting that suggestion. Of course, the West also knew that Khrushchev's proposal was not sincere at all. When capitalism is viewed as evil, and capitalist prefers to be "better dead than red", there is no motivation for peace.
3. Despite the fact that those scientists who were involved in the Manhattan project condemned the nuclear strike- and the scientists who came after them, like Stephen Hawking, who in his book titled The Universe in a Nutshell denied Einstein wanted his work on nuclear fusion be used against Japan - governments still honor the "fathers of nuclear projects" as national heroes.
4. The successful deterrent power of holders of nuclear weapons, despite their collapse, coups, etc. no foreign country dares to attack them.
5. There is always a threat of military action or conflict in interests among countries. While a few countries hold strategic weapons, other countries will have no feeling of security.
6. Besides technical faults and human errors, and rulers' foolishness, threats by other countries have made nuclear disasters inevitable at any time. Moreover, the use of nuclear weapon is not confined to the attacked country. For example, a strike with a thermonuclear weapon on Moscow may kill millions of people in Pakistan, India, China, or in France and Britain depending on the wind direction.
Akbar Etemad, the first head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization under the Shah Mohamma-Reza Pahlavi, held an interview with BBC in March 2013. He said, "The Shah believed that he was strong enough in the region and to defend his rights. So, he does not need atom bombs. He said to me if the situation is changed, we will have to make atom bombs."
Iran was the most powerful country in the Middle East at that time and was a close ally of the West. But now the air and navy forces of its neighbors, such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia are much more powerful than Iran.
Nuclear weapons of Israel, Russia, and Pakistan, military bases of the U.S. in the Persian Gulf, the intense enmity of Iran with Israel, and the most important of all, applying the term "Revolution" to the "Islamic Republic" regime even 35 years after the revolution, motivates the country's need to have a strategic weapon. But, in reality there is no evidence to prove that.
The insincerity of nuclear powers in meeting with each other, and especially with those countries which do not have strategic weapons, disregarding the crimes which are taking place in their alley countries and the use of the human rights as a tool and their disinclination for eliminating nuclear weapons, are the main reasons for the spread of nuclear weapons in the world.
The future of Iran's nuclear program is clear. The country cannot produce uranium with up to 90 percent purity level for making atomic bombs in the next 6 months. Producing Uranium- 235 with 90 percent purity is dependent on time and requires higher technology than what Iran holds currently. Of course, uranium enrichment is only one of the processes for making nuclear bombs, not all.
In this historical era, the false feelings of national pride and surrender against the enemy should be abandoned and negotiations should be started without any contempt and disrespect for the other side.
The closeness of Iran and the West will not be harmful, despite warnings and concerns of Israel and the West. Instead, it will save the Middle East from the spread of nuclear weapons in the short-run. I used the term short-run, because we cannot be optimistic about removing the threat of global destruction until the entire nuclear stockpile is eliminated.
Dalga Khatinoglu is Trend Persian Service head