October 10, 2003 Special Dispatch No. 586

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Editor: Iran's Nuclear Weapons a Threat to Arab And Islamic Countries

October 10, 2003
Iran | Special Dispatch No. 586

An editorial titled "Yes, We Fear Iran's Uranium," authored by Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, editor of the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, appeared in the newspaper's October 8, 2003 issue. [1]The following are excerpts from the editorial:

The Primary Target: Pakistan

"If you want to be foolish, you have to believe that Iran is producing its nuclear bomb in order to attack Israel; you'll turn into a complete idiot if you believe it's producing it in order to confront the U.S. The Iranians are enriching uranium to produce nuclear weapons aimed, essentially, at its neighbors, mainly Pakistan. However, the danger encompasses the other neighboring countries as well, such as Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan, which share with Iran a land border of 5,400 km and a sea border of 2,400 km.

"I don't need anyone to remind me that nuclear bombs are not artillery fired from across a border, and that with [suitable] launching facilities they are capable of reaching the end of the world. What I mean is that it is hard to believe the claim that Iran's purpose in producing nuclear weapons is to attain balance with Israel due to the enormity of the Israeli arsenal and [Israel's] technological superiority. Likewise, it is inconceivable that we believe Iran will do what the Russians – with the second largest nuclear arsenal in the world – were incapable of doing, and will enter into nuclear confrontation with Washington."

'More than Enough Insane Leaders' in the Region

"We fear Iran's intentions in producing nuclear weapons because we understand very well, given the history of conflicts in the region, that Iran will push us toward one of two tragedies: The simpler tragedy is that Iran will ignite the spark of the nuclear arms race in our poverty-stricken region, whose governments will begin to purchase these ecologically dangerous toys at an unbelievably high price. The second tragedy is that the arms race will result in putting these insane weapons to use. Allah be praised, I do not need to persuade many that our region has more than enough insane leaders. Saddam sprayed thousands of his citizens with chemicals, wiping them out like vermin.

"Yes, it is our duty to fight for Israel's nuclear disarmament, but we must not delude ourselves that Iran, or any other country, is arming itself with nuclear weapons in response to Israel. Nuclear armament will lead us to the same place we were led [to] by conventional armament. Iranian fighter planes engaged in air battles with Saudi fighter planes on a day in the past, and Scud missiles crushed Tehran and Qom and reached Riyadh and Doha. You can imagine what it would have been like had their warheads been nuclear."

'We Have Used Conventional Weapons More Against Each Other Than Against Israel'

"We have used conventional weapons more against each other than against Israel, and this situation will not change tomorrow if we add nuclear bombs to our arsenals. I understand Iran's motivation for producing nuclear bombs. Iran saw the world's indifference over neighboring Pakistan's acquisition of nuclear weapons. And Pakistan itself produced them after India revealed its own nuclear arsenal. [These were considered by Iran as] sufficient reason to achieve regional balance. However, Iran, unlike the two countries of the Indian subcontinent, realized… that it is sitting on one of the most important and sensitive international centers of conflict.

"It would be a mistake to come to the defense of our neighbor Iran out of ignorance and on the pretext of deterring Israel. The Iranian nuclear danger threatens us, first and foremost, more than it threatens the Israelis and the Americans."

[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), October 8, 2003.

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