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Who's calling who a nuclear threat?
Now, what happens if I say that the fact that the U.S. has built 67,500 nuclear missiles from 1951 to the present makes me nervous?

Tahereh Aghdassifar
August 11, 2005

I'll just get straight to the point: I'm tired of reading about how America, the U.N. and the E.U. are angry about the possible production of nuclear arms in Iran. I find it fairly hypocritical that the U.S. gets to decide who is and is not allowed to produce nuclear weapons and I also find it odd that they are only referred to as weapons of "mass destruction" when a country in the Middle East is suspected of producing or having them.

So far Iran has not constructed any nuclear weapons, and they have quite vehemently denied the idea that their uranium project is in connection to an arms program.

Now, obviously I don't believe that... but so far I've not been given any actual evidence that Iran plans to build weapons; I've seen lots of ranting and raving from the current administration and an article now and then from CNN and BBC News speculating... but I've not seen proof that these weapons exist or are going to exist. In fact, according to the Washington Post "A major U.S. intelligence review has projected that Iran is about a decade away from manufacturing the key ingredient for a nuclear weapon, roughly doubling the previous estimate of five years, according to government sources with firsthand knowledge of the new analysis."

So, let me get this straight, if in fact Iran chooses to produce "weapons of mass destruction" they will not have them ready for another ten years? Now, this is only if the ten year estimate is correct, as the article also reports that the Presidential Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction has found that "U.S. intelligence knows 'disturbingly little' about Iran." In looking at the timeline provided by BBC news, in December of 2002 "The existence of [uranium enrichment plants] at Natanz and Arak [were] confirmed by satellite photographs shown on US television."

Would these be the same satellites that photographed buildings in Iraq housing "weapons of mass destruction" which the U.S. now fully admits do not exist? After these satellite photos were presented "The US accused Tehran of 'across-the-board pursuit of weapons of mass destruction'." So, the fact that Iran is enriching uranium, which is indeed the first step of producing a nuclear weapons (also the first step in providing nuclear energy) means that they are planning to pursue "weapons of mass destruction" similar (yet not nearly as advanced) to the ones the U.S. holds and still produces.

Personally, I don't believe anyone should really have nuclear weapons, but that's a naive way of thinking, especially now that so many countries have access to them, so if they must exist, I don't understand why the West takes it upon themselves to decide who can and cannot produce weapons. Conversely, if a country in the Middle East were to make a statement to the media proclaiming how angry they are that the U.S. has nuclear weapons, no one would take the issue seriously and the "terror alert system" would probably jump up a few colors... The words "double" and "standard" come to mind at this point.

Now, what happens if I say that the fact that the U.S. has built 67,500 nuclear missiles from 1951 to the present makes me nervous? What if the total number of nuclear bombers built from 1945 to the present (4,680) makes me question the motives of the U.S.? And should I feel uneasy that the very state I live in, Georgia, has the second largest arsenal of nuclear weapons (2,000) in the country? No one would take me seriously, the majority of you reading this probably will not take me seriously, because it is something we do not consider.

The idea that Iran may possibly have a very limited number of nuclear arms in ten years makes everyone a bit jumpy, but no one questions the reasons behind the U.S. holding so much nuclear power. Again, if it were up to me, no one would have nuclear arms, but slowly I've learned to give up on some of my more idealistic views, and now I'm left with the question of why. Why is it okay for the West to hold "weapons of mass destruction" but not Iran? Are we worried that in Iran the weapons may fall into the wrong hands? That perhaps terrorists will acquire some of these nuclear weapons?

Let's step back for a moment and put things in perspective:

The man currently in charge of running the United States of America can barely pronounce the word "nuclear" and we are to trust him with over 65 types of 70,000 nuclear warheads and bombs? Why are we worried about Iran in ten years when we have a president right now who has already invaded one country based on faulty and just plain false information? I don't think Iran should be our main concern when it comes to nuclear power. I also don't believe that countries with massive stockpiles of weapons that are capable of blowing the world up a thousand times over have any authority to tell other countries not to produce weapons.

Iran will produce weapons if they want to. End of story. I don't agree with it, but I also don't agree with the United States believing they have the power to choose who is and is not to be trusted with nuclear arms, especially when many of their own citizens do not trust them with nuclear arms.

If the U.S. would like Iran to stop enriching uranium, perhaps they should stop labeling them as a part of the "axis of evil" and taking every opportunity possible to threaten them for activities which other countries do without hassle from the West. Or perhaps the U.S. (this being my idealistic side coming out) would like to make an example of themselves and be the first to significantly decrease their nuclear power, or better yet, completely eradicate their program.

And if by now you still believe I am completely unjustified in my way of thinking, here are a few things to consider the next time you hear about Iran on the news:

* Number of designated targets for U.S. weapons in the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) in 1976, 1986, and 1995: 25,000 (1976), 16,000 (1986) and 2,500 (1995).
-- Bruce Blair, Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution

* Peak number of operating domestic uranium mines (1955): 925.
-- Nineteenth Semiannual Report of the Atomic Energy Commission, January 1956, p. 31

* Fissile material produced: 104 metric tons of plutonium and 994 metric tons of highly-enriched uranium.
-- U.S. Department of Energy  

* Number of thermometers which could be filled with mercury used to produce lithium-6 at the Oak Ridge Reservation: 11 billion.
-- U.S. Department of Energy

* Number of dismantled plutonium "pits" stored at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas: 12,067 (as of May 6, 1999).
-- U.S. Department of Energy

* Total known land area occupied by U.S. nuclear weapons bases and facilities: 15,654 square miles. (As a reference, the total land area of the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and New Jersey: 15,357 square miles - Rand McNally Road Atlas and Travel Guide, 1992)
-- U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project

* Number of secret Presidential Emergency Facilities built for use during and after a nuclear war: more than 75.
-- Bill Gulley with Mary Ellen Reese, Breaking Cover, Simon and Schuster, 1980, pp. 34- 36

* Total number of U.S. nuclear weapons tests, 1945-1992: 1,030 (1,125 nuclear devices detonated; 24 additional joint tests with Great Britain).
-- U.S. Department of Energy  

* Estimated amount spent between October 1, 1992 and October 1, 1995 on nuclear testing activities: $1,200,000,000 (0 tests).
-- U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project  

* Number of nuclear tests in the Pacific: 106.
-- Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons Databook Project

* Number of U.S. nuclear tests in Nevada: 911.
-- Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons Databook Project  

* Number of high level radioactive waste tanks in Washington, Idaho and South Carolina: 239.
-- U.S. Department of Energy

* Volume in cubic meters of radioactive waste resulting from weapons activities: 104,000,000.
-- U.S. Department of Energy; Institute for Energy and Environmental Research

* Cost of January 17, 1966 nuclear weapons accident over Palomares, Spain (including two lost planes, an extended search and recovery effort, waste disposal in the U.S. and settlement claims): $182,000,000.
-- Joint Committee on Atomic Energy Interoffice Memorandum, February 15, 1968; Center for Defense Information

* Number of U.S. nuclear bombs lost in accidents and never recovered: 11.
-- U.S. Department of Defense; Center for Defense Information; Greenpeace; "Lost Bombs," Atwood-Keeney Productions, Inc., 1997  

* Minimum number of classified pages estimated to be in the Department of Energy's possession (1995): 280 million.
-- A Review of the Department of Energy Classification Policy and Practice, Committee on Declassification of Information for the Department of Energy Environmental Remediation and Related Programs, National Research Council, 1995, pp. 7-8, 68.   

* Estimated 1998 spending on all U.S. nuclear weapons and weapons-related programs: $35,100,000,000.
-- U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project

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