Santorum: Iran Would Nuke America

The GOP candidate's jingoism prevents any sober thinking on Iran

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum implied that Iran would drop a nuclear bomb in the United States if it had the capability. 

At a campaign stop in Missouri, Santorum told a crowd that a nuclear Iran would pose a direct threat, even to Missouri. “Once they have a nuclear weapon, let me assure you, you will not be safe, even here in Missouri,” he said.

Santorum’s warmongering rhetoric is very far removed from reality. Iran does not possess nuclear weapons and the consensus view within the U.S. military and intelligence community is that their nuclear enrichment program is for civilian purposes only.

All 16 U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in 2007, and again in 2011, that there is no military dimension to Iran’s nuclear program. And despite the hyperbolic reporting on it, the latest report from the IAEA said, “the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material.”

Furthermore, the notion that Iran would nuke the United States even if it did have nuclear weapons is absurd and not a single person knowledgeable about the situation or of international affairs generally believes it to be true. The United States has thousands of nuclear weapons (compared to Iran’s arsenal of zero) and would immediately retaliate  on Iran if a nuclear weapon was launched.

What conceivable benefit bombing the United States Santorum thinks the Iranians perceive, is a mystery. He seems to think the regime in Tehran has an apocalyptic religious determination to destroy the United States or Israel, yet he refuses to believe such religious rigidity extends to the regime’s fatwa, or religious ruling, against the use or possession of nuclear weapons.

Iran’s nuclear policy is probably designed to signal to its aggressive adversaries (the U.S. and Israel) that they have the technological capability to build nuclear weapons in case they are attacked. Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the IAEA, said in 2009 that he did not “believe the Iranians have made a decision to go for a nuclear weapon, but they are absolutely determined to have the technology because they believe it brings you power, prestige and an insurance policy.” This is a deterrence strategy, as opposed to a desire to actually attain nuclear weapons.

Santorum’s blind, jingoistic nationalism makes a sober look at Iran, and the entire Middle East, impossible. Referring to Iran, he said, “These are folks who have been and are at war with us since 1979. This is a country that has killed more troops in Afghanistan and Iraq than the Iraqis and Afghans.” Santorum is of course incapable of recognizing the hundreds of thousands of civilians the U.S. has killed in those two unnecessary wars along Iran’s east and west borders.

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Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for Antiwar.com.