Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in his March 3, 2015 address to Congress and the American people, rightly warned that Iran with nuclear missiles poses an existential threat not only to Israel, but to the United States and the West.
Clandestine Nuclear Missile Program
President Ronald Reagan and his administration would agree, and stand by Israel and PM Netanyahu today. Several senior advisors to President Reagan warn in a recent article that Iran has nuclear missile capability already:
"Iran should be regarded by national security decision makers as a nuclear missile state capable of posing an existential threat to the United States and its allies."
Iran has orbited four satellites, some weighing over one ton, demonstrating it can deliver a nuclear weapon anywhere. Iran has been secretly working on nuclear weapons for over twenty (20) years.
Nuclear weapons can be developed clandestinely, and quickly, without testing--as the U.S. knows from its own experience during World War II. In three (3) years the Manhattan Project developed two atomic bombs of different design, one of which was employed without testing. Hiroshima was the test.
Nor do sophisticated nuclear weapons require testing.
The Congressional Strategic Posture Commission noted that the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile has undergone significant changes to maintain warhead reliability and safety without testing. The U.S. has not tested any of its nuclear warheads in 23 years.
Israel, South Africa, and North Korea all developed nuclear missile warheads clandestinely, without testing. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations watchdog trying to monitor Iran's nuclear program, has uncovered compelling evidence of a clandestine Iranian program to develop nuclear weapons and missile warheads.
The IAEA has also repeatedly warned that it has only partial access to Iran's nuclear program and does not know what is going on in several underground facilities suspected of nuclear weapons development.
Fool Me Once
Nuclear Iran looks like nuclear North Korea all over again.
During the Clinton Administration's eight years of negotiating the "Agreed Framework" to persuade North Korea to give up on nuclear weapons, the congressional North Korea Advisory Group on which I served warned repeatedly that North Korea was cheating all through the negotiations. In fact, North Korea built its first nuclear weapons by or before January 1994, conducted its first nuclear test in 2006 (for which the Clintonistas dishonestly tried shifting blame to President George W. Bush for North Korea getting nuclear weapons), and threatened nuclear missile strikes against the U.S., South Korea and Japan in 2013. Yet President Obama is still trying to maintain the fiction that North Korea does not have nuclear missiles!
A common mistake currently being made by many TV commentators is that North Korea did not develop a nuclear weapon until its first test in 2006. Years earlier, then Director of Central Intelligence, R. James Woolsey, testified to Congress on January 25, 1994 that North Korea had already built its first nuclear weapons.
Wendy Sherman and Gary Samore, the same Clinton Administration negotiating team that was fooled by nuclear-armed North Korea, have been negotiating for the Obama Administration with Iran. Gary Samore left the Obama Administration for Harvard University in 2013 to train a new generation of diplomats.
North Korea and Iran are strategic partners and cooperate on missile and nuclear programs. Iran is almost certainly following North Korea's example--using nuclear negotiations to cheat and stall for time to build enough nuclear weapons and nuclear infrastructure so these facts become irreversible.
A Threat To Civilization
Iran armed with nuclear missiles poses an unprecedented threat to global civilization.
One nuclear warhead detonated at high-altitude over the United States would blackout the national electric grid and other life sustaining critical infrastructures for months or years by means of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). A nationwide blackout lasting one year, according to the Congressional EMP Commission, could cause chaos and starvation that leaves 90 percent of Americans dead.
Iranian military documents describe such a scenario--including a recently translated Iranian military textbook that endorses nuclear EMP attack against the United States.
Thus, Iran with a small number of nuclear missiles can by EMP attack threaten the existence of modernity and be the death knell for Western principles of international law, humanism and freedom. For the first time in history, a failed state like Iran could destroy the most successful societies on Earth and convert an evolving benign world order into world chaos.
Deterrence of the West
Nuclear deterrence, that worked against the officially atheistic and secular USSR during the Cold War, is not likely to work against the Mullahs who run Iran. Their apocalyptic theology is converting their nation into the functional equivalent of a nuclear truck bomb.
Nuclear deterrence is likely to work in reverse, against U.S. and Western interests.
An Iran with nuclear missiles can topple the existing world order, that was until recently so favorable for the proliferation of freedom--without firing a shot. The specter of nuclear EMP attack changes the whole calculus of benefit and risk for the U.S. and its allies that have tried to uphold the moral norms of international law and civilization.
Barbarism can triumph over civilization without war. The mere capability to make an EMP attack, the mere threat that a rogue state like Iran can inflict Assured Destruction on the United States using a single warhead, cancels the credibility of U.S. security guarantees and erodes alliance relationships that are the foundations of the present benign international system.
The "world policeman" must stay home when the global neighborhood is too dangerous for peacekeeping. Enforcement of international law, defense of Western humanist values like freedom and mercy, and even prevention of genocide and slavery, will become prohibitively risky within the worldwide range of Iran's nuclear missiles.
Iran with nuclear missiles is a world crisis comparable to the Islamic conquests against Christendom during the Dark Ages, the rise of Nazi Germany, or the Soviet threat during the Cold War.
World Order versus World Chaos
World chaos from nuclear missile-armed Iran and its partner North Korea is enabled deliberately by their silent partners--Russia and China. In order to survive, the West must wake-up to the reality that Iran, North Korea, China and Russia are all rogue states tacitly allied against the West, working together to topple the existing world order.
Authoritarian Russia and totalitarian China are threatened by a world order dominated by the U.S. that advances Western values of political and economic freedom. World chaos gives Russia and China an opportunity to build a new world order based on their values that serves their interests.
World chaos also serves the interests of Russia and China as an end in itself. Wars and international crises tend to weaken the economies of the West, and further sap the will and sicken the appetite of the U.S. and its allies to defend international stability.
World disorder is breaking the will of America and its allies to defend the values of Western Civilization.
Wars and world chaos also tends to boost the price of oil and of arms--Russia's two biggest exports.
Russia and China have deliberately proliferated missile and nuclear technology to Iran and North Korea to raise proxy nuclear missile threats against the U.S. and its allies on the theory that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" and to promote world chaos. The real merchants of death live in Moscow and Beijing.
Yet Western elites persist, year after year, in their naive belief that Russia and China are strategic partners who, despite some sharp differences with the West, are committed to upholding the existing world order. For decades now, the West has looked to China to use its influence to make North Korea give up on nuclear weapons, only to be perpetually disappointed. For years, the West has looked to Russia to use its influence to make Iran give up on nuclear weapons, to no avail.
Indeed, Russia and China are the most reliable champions of Iran and North Korea on the United Nations Security Council, consistently vetoing UN resolutions designed to stop Tehran's and Pyongyang's nuclear missile programs.
The present P5+1 negotiations to stop Iran's march toward an "Islamic Bomb" are doomed to failure by including Russia and China as negotiating partners with the West, when they have in fact been partnering with Iran all along. If an agreement results from the P5+1 talks, as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu warned the U.S. Congress and the American people, it will almost certainly be the most fateful arms control folly in history.
In the P5+1 agreement, the West may well be signing its own epitaph.
Before It Is Too Late
"The history of the failure of war can almost be summed up in two words: too late. Too late in comprehending the deadly purposes of a potential enemy. Too late in realizing the mortal danger. Too late in preparedness. Too late in uniting all possible forces for resistance. Too late in standing with one's friends."--General Douglas MacArthur
The West must understand that Russia and China are not our friends and do not share our vision for a stable, peaceful world order. They are enabling the Iranian and North Korean nuclear missile programs to foster world chaos and, if necessary, our extinction.
The U.S. needs to protect its electric grid and other critical infrastructures from EMP by hardening, beef-up National Missile Defense, modernize the U.S. nuclear deterrent, and support any popular revolution for regime change in Iran." The Congress and the White House have both neglected to take these prudent steps, vital to the survival of the United States, for years.
Continued failure by the White House and the Congress to act on their constitutional obligation "to provide for the common defense" will surely crown them both with the laurels of Neville Chamberlain.
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry is Executive Director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and Director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, both Congressional Advisory Boards, and served on the Congressional EMP Commission, the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, the House Armed Services Committee, and the CIA. He is author of Apocalypse Unknown: The Struggle To Protect America From An Electromagnetic Pulse Catastrophe and Electric Armageddon, both available from CreateSpace.com and Amazon.com