Joe Hendren

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Friday, January 20, 2006

Why does Iran want nuclear weapons?

With all the recent talk about Iran resuming its nuclear programme it is a shame the West continues to undermine its own position with selective morality and obvious hypocrisy.

I find it amazing the Press can have so many articles about this issue yet fail to address the obvious question - 'for what reasons could Iran want nuclear weapons?'

As Simon Jenkins points out, the answer is as simple as looking at a map.
"I would sleep happier if there were no Iranian bomb but a swamp of hypocrisy separates me from overly protesting it. Iran is a proud country that sits between nuclear Pakistan and India to its east, a nuclear Russia to its north and a nuclear Israel to its west. Adjacent Afghanistan and Iraq are occupied at will by a nuclear America, which backed Saddam Hussein in his 1980 invasion of Iran. How can we say such a country has "no right" to nuclear defence?"

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told the BBC that the West is partly to blame for the Iran nuclear crisis for allowing Israel to develop a nuclear arsenal. He said nuclear weapons benefited no-one, and called for a nuclear-free zone in the Gulf. It would be good to see al-Faisal get some strong support for this idea, as a WMD free Middle East ought to be the goal of any sane policy. Better still, no Security Council Resolution would be required to put such a ban in place, as it is already provided for under existing resolutions.

In 2003 George Bush and Tony Blair attempted to use Security Council resolution 687 as a justification for the invasion of Iraq. While 687 provided no such authorisation, it did call for the elimination of Iraqi WMD and delivery systems as a step towards "the goal of establishing in the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass destruction and all other missiles for their delivery and the objective of a global ban on chemical weapons." (Article 14). So if 687 is really to be upheld, then pressure must be put on Israel to disarm.

A good start would be for the US and the UK to publicly recognise Israel's possession of nuclear weapons (as far as I know they have never officially recognised this) and ask Israel to agree to arms reduction talks. This would have the advantage of greatly increasing the diplomatic pressure on Iran to abandon its nuclear programme, as it would be much more difficult for Tehran to claim they need nukes for defensive purposes. Many Arab states feel threatened by Israel's nuclear status, especially as Israeli nuclear armed submarines have been known to patrol the coasts of Iran and Pakistan.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims Iran 'does not need nuclear arms' and that his country is only asserting its right to peaceful nuclear technology, as allowed under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Unfortunately, countries such as Israel made similar denials in the mid-1960s when they were developing nuclear weapons, so any such denials ought to be taken with a grain of salt, unless said country is happy for the IAEA to make unhinded inspection visits.

In Iran's case, Ahmadinejad needs to be asked why it is so essential for Iran to gain nuclear power stations when the country is sitting on one of the most plentiful gas supplies in the world.

If Iran is successful in developing nuclear arms - this will be yet another dismal failure for the foreign policy of George W Bush. North Korea is named in the 'axis of evil' speech, continues its nuclear weapons programme and withdraws from the NPT. Iran is named in the 'axis of evil' speech, and is now 'breaking the seals' on its three nuclear facilities. It worried U.N chief inspector Hans Blix that in invading Iraq, Bush may have sent precisely the wrong message - the US only attacks countries that cannot defend themselves.

And like most policy questions - it all comes down to who we want to help. Simon Jenkins again.
"All the following statements about Iran are true. There are powerful Iranians who want to build a nuclear bomb. There are powerful ones who do not. There are people in Iran who would like Israel to disappear. There are people who would not. There are people who would like Islamist rule. There are people who would not. There are people who long for some idiot western politician to declare war on them. There are people appalled at the prospect. The only question for western strategists is which of these people they want to help."
Edit 14/9/09: Despite this post being over three years old it continues to generate quite a few hits. It is pleasing to know so many people are asking the same basic question that motivated my post. I turned this post into a longer article for Peace Researcher, where I also looked at some of the arguments related to nuclear power. This was published in December 2007.

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Monday, January 16, 2006

New blog Kete Were

Following a widely publicised stranding on the Chesswas Rocks, the About Town blog has now sunk without trace. But good to see some of old crew jump aboard the new ship Kete Were.

Also good to see Xavier found a new home for his 'science' posts - What's up, pussy cat? is a fascinating look at the evolution of the cat family.

Is your mollycoddled moggy more leopard than lion, or just a cheeky cheater?

"...the Cheetah, found in the Serengeti plains of eastern Africa is more closely related to the Puma of the North American Rockies than it is to the other African cats, the Leopard and the Lion. Similarly, the Puma is more closely related to the Cheetah than it is to the Jaguar of South America. This also means that the Cheetah is more closely related to your family cat than it is to any other big cat. Evolution sure does work in wonderful ways.

This may help explain why cheetahs are the only big cats able to purr! :)

And looking quite randomly through the dictionary I see the word 'moggy/moggie' came to us from Britain as a 17th century variant of Maggie, a familiar form of the given name Margaret. Would it be disrespectful to refer to the Queen's sister as Princess Moggie? :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Toll Holdings bullies with Big Fat Ferry

Just uploaded my latest published piece 'Arrogant Toll Bullies Small District Council with Big Fat Ferry' to the articles section of the site. It appeared in the December edition of the CAFCA magazine Foreign Control Watchdog.

In August, Toll Holdings introduced a new ferry to the Cook Straight run, the Kaitaki, and immediately began sailing at 20 knots through Marlborough Sounds. Toll refuses to follow the rules set by the local Marlborough District Council that require the ferry operator to gain a resource consent in order to travel more than 15 knots in the Sounds.

These rules, known as 'Variation Three', are designed to protect people and the environment from the negative impact of large ferry-created waves. While Toll is appealing the decision of the Council through the Environment Court, the Australian owned corporate refuses to abide by the rules as they stand.

Toll claims the 15 knot speed restriction has no scientific validity and that the Council has failed to show adverse effects arising from a 20 knot speed. Yet as the Press says in its editorial of September 27 2004, in reference to the effect of the wake on the foreshore, "it is hard to believe that this could be environmentally benign. There are also concerns of property damage and potential risk to human life". Ferry wake can also contribute to erosion and land sliding.

Toll's actions have been widely condemned by the local community and the mainstream media, with the company regularly accused of 'arrogance' and acting as a 'bully'. Both the Marlborough Express and the Christchurch Press have called on Toll to slow down the Kaitaki, and expressed the hope the District Council is successful in winning its case in the Environment Court. The court battle resumes on the 30th of January.

Go, Go, and good speed Marlborough District Council! :)

PS: I nicknamed the Kaitaki the 'big fat ferry' on account of the new boat being 30 metres longer and 3 metres wider than the Arahura and Aratere ferries.

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

10,000th visitor

At 10.17am yesterday my website and blog welcomed its 10,000th visitor, via an Auckland woosh connection. Referral came Tim Selwyn's blog Tumeke. Thanks Tim. If I ever get a chance to meet you I will shout you a beer, but you may have to remind me :)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

TV3 cites Wikipedia

TV3 News tonight had a story looking at legal recognition of "civil unions" in New Zealand and other parts of the world.

When listing some of the other places that have legalised either civil unions or same-sex marriage the reporter made a very interesting citation - "according to internet encyclopaedia Wikipedia".

Is this the first time TV news in NZ have cited Wikipedia as a source? Does anyone know of any other similar televised citations? I have no doubt reporters have used for stories in the past, so its quite nice for this to be acknowledged. Was this "slipped in" during the quiet summer break?

For my own writing I find Wikipedia a valuable source of "research leads" - that is I look at Wikipedia for the overview and then try to confirm the information from another source (I am generally looking for more detail anyway). Come to think of it, this is not too different to how most people would use a paper based encyclopaedia.

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