The issue of Iran's nuclear weapons program needs to be considered in the general context of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.
It is highly desirable that Iran have no nuclear weapons even though it is clear they would be only for defensive purposes. In spite of occasional wild speeches by Iran's president, Iran has attacked no other country and Iran's leaders know that any such an attack would have disastrous consequences for their country.
On the other hand Israel has more than 50 nuclear weapons and has attacked other countries, most notably an extremely deadly attack on Lebanon
At the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference in 2010, it was agreed that the only long-term solution is the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. This would require the end of the Iranian weapons program and the destruction of Israel's weapons under international supervision. All members of the Arab League and Iran agreed to come to a meeting in 2012 to set up such a zone. The meeting has been delayed to this year. The United States should put strong pressure on Israel to attend this meeting to set up this zone.
As long as Israel has nuclear weapons there will be continued movements in other countries in the area to develop their own.
First Published January 15, 2013 12:00 AM