May 22, 2024 Special Dispatch No. 11344

American-Iranian Council (AIC) President Hooshang Amirahmadi, Former Iranian Presidential Candidate And Rutgers University Lecturer: 'Iran Must Produce A Nuclear Bomb'; 'Deterrence [Against Israel] Is Not Possible Without A Nuclear Weapon'; 'America Is Ready For Iran To Have A Bomb In Order To Achieve A Balance Of Power With Israel'

May 22, 2024
Iran | Special Dispatch No. 11344

In an April 20, 2024 interview with the conservative Iranian news website Asr-e Iran, Iranian-American international affairs expert Hooshang Amirahmadi said that Iran must produce a nuclear weapon so that it can achieve deterrence against Israel. Amirahmadi, a U.S. resident, is the president of the American-Iranian Council (AIC) and lectures at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He ran for president of Iran in 2005, 2013, and 2017.

In the interview, Amirahmadi asserted that Iran must produce a nuclear weapon because, he says, it is "the only form of deterrence these days," and added: "When Iran has a bomb, it will not even need to fire missiles at Israel." Calling on Iran to leave the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (sic) and the JCPOA nuclear deal, he said that Iran should also declare that Islam does not forbid nuclear weapons. He is referring to the alleged fatwa banning nuclear weapons that the Iranian regime attributes to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. This nonexistent fatwa was the basis for the Obama administration's facilitation of Iran's becoming a nuclear threshold state.[1]

Stressing that he is a seeker of peace and an expert in international relations, Amirahmadi attempted to portray Iran as peace-seeking, and said that Iran's possession of a nuclear weapon is actually what would bring stability and peace to the Middle East.

Amirahmadi's statements about Iran's right and obligation to possess nuclear weapons are part of the Iranian regime's deliberate efforts in recent months to gain legitimacy in the U.S. and Europe for it to change its nuclear policy from civilian to military and to possess these weapons. These Iranian efforts have already made already made Iran a nuclear threshold state. Indeed, in recent weeks, Iranian official have stepped up statements about the possibility that Iran will change its policy, and justifying this by pointing at Israel's attacks on senior IRGC officers in Syria. (See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1761, Senior Iranian Regime Officials Warn Of Iran's Coming Nuclear Breakout and MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1765, Iranian Majlis Member Dr. Ahmad Bakhshayesh Ardestani In Interview With Iran's Roydad 24 News: 'Iran Is Slowly Making Preparations To Announce That It Has A Nuclear Bomb').

The Iranians are aiming to establish a nuclear balance of terror based on their status as a nuclear threshold state, and believe that they can win the support of the Biden administration in this because it is heavily influenced by top Democrats such as former president Barack Obama and former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

It should be recalled that at a July 2009 security conference in Thailand, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton openly discussed the possibility of Iran possessing nuclear weapons. She advised the Iranians that it would not be allowed to use its nuclear weapons to threaten or influence its neighbors because the Gulf states would be under an American defense umbrella. She told them:

"We want Iran to calculate, what I think is a fair assessment, that if the U.S. extends a defense umbrella over the region, if we do even more to support the military capacity of those in the Gulf, it's unlikely that Iran will be any stronger or safer, because they won't be able to intimidate and dominate, as they apparently believe they can, once they have a nuclear weapon."[2]

Also notable is that now, months before the U.S. presidential election, the Iranian regime is calling on President Biden to hold nuclear talks with Iran and to arrive at understandings with it. Iran appears to be attempting to convince the Biden administration that a nuclear balance of power in the Middle East will bring stability to the region – as in the U.S.-Soviet Cold War as Amirahmadi points out. It should be remembered that countries in the Middle East, most of which are Sunni Arab, have warned of a nuclear arms race if Iran obtains nuclear weapons.

The following is a translation of excerpts from the interview with Amirahmadi:

Hooshang Amirahmadi. Source: Asr-e Iran (Iran), April 20, 2024.

With Its April 14 Attack On Israel, Iran "Revived The Confidence And Self-Respect Of The Iranian People"; "I Personally Saw This As Positive And Important And For The Honor Of The Country"

Question: "Mr. Amirahmadi, what is your opinion regarding Iran's recent [April 14, 2024] missile attack on Israel?"

Hooshang Amirahmadi: "From a strategic point of view, Iran made an important move. The spirit of this operation was important because it revived the confidence and self-respect of the Iranian people. I personally saw this as positive and important and for the honor of the country. Iran's defensive and military strategic doctrine had [previously] been one of only defense and revenge. That is, it would be attacked and it would then retaliate. But the attack on Israel appears to have been a deviation from this doctrine. This means that from now on, Iran will not just be a punching bag that only stands and defends itself or resists.

"Another change is the deviation from the 'strategic patience.' It now seems that the desire to strike Israel emerged even before [Israel] strikes us. The best defense is an offense. Peace and stability can only be achieved with force and power. Fortunately, this point is now understood, and this is the reason for [Iran's] recent attack on Israel. Iran's new military-defensive doctrine is primarily an outcome of the thinking of [Iran's] military forces. However, the [Iranian] regime's leadership has certainly stressed that the nature of the attack on Israel did not need to be such that it would bring America into a military dispute with Iran. This is why Iran entered the 'power game,' in order to please the [Iranian] people and preserve this regime."

"Iran Has Now Entered The Third [Nuclear] Phase; Israel Might Go Up One Step; If It Does That, Iran Will Also Go To The Higher Levels, Until It Reaches The Final Phase, [Which Is] The Bomb"

Question: "Doesn't the claim that [Israel's] Iron Dome [missile defense system] intercepted most of Iran's missiles cast doubt on Iran's ability to deter in the long run?"

Amirahmadi: "The concept of deterrence is different from that of offensive power. In the attack, Iran demonstrated offensive power and technology. That is, it showed that it can strike the enemy. [By contrast,] deterrence means that the enemy does not dare attack you.

"Iran has missiles, drones, and planes, and so does [Israel]. [Israel] also has a nuclear bomb, which Iran does not have. In such a situation, where the balance of power does not yet favor Iran, there is no deterrence. In today's world, only nuclear weapons are deterrents. No other force has this capability.

"Missiles and drones are important for defense and offense, but nobody relies on these weapons for deterrence. With that being said, we should acknowledge that what Iran did was a play of superior power. The Israelis were in what's known as the third phase of the power game, and Iran fought Israel from the second phase [with only conventional weapons]. But Iran has now entered the third [nuclear] phase. Israel might go up one step. If it does that, Iran will also go to higher levels, until it reaches the final phase, [which is] the bomb. Deterrence must ultimately end up at the bomb.

"The fact that the Israelis say they intercepted 99% of Iran's missiles and drones is derived from an advertising slogan. In America, they say $99, not $100. Or 99 cents, not $1. This is to attract attention. But the fact that the Israelis shot down a large number of Iranian missiles and drones is a result of cooperation with America and a few other countries. Iran has begun to play with higher-level power (than in the past), and America and other countries are aware of this. Of course, this is at the request of Iran itself [that is, it was coordinated with Iran]. This is why they rushed to help Israel. This game of power was significant, but if we think that our missiles and drones are deterrents, we're mistaken. However, Iran's recent show of force has certainly made America, Israel, and the others more convinced that Iran is an important power in the region.

"Iran played this power game well, but it never intended to [actually] strike Israel. It only wanted to show that it could hit Israel hard. Iran showed that its strategic thinking is changing. That is, it no longer has the same patience and tolerance, and it might begin acting aggressively towards Israel. It was a good message, but we must not conclude from this success that we have deterrent power. Jumping [to this conclusion] is wrong and even dangerous."

"Iran Must Also Produce A Nuclear Bomb… I Support A Nuclear Iran Because I Support Iranian Peace And Deterrence"

Question: "In consideration of the explanation you gave about proceeding through the phases and the deterrence based on a nuclear bomb, are you defending [the demand] to arm Iran with a nuclear weapon so that Iran will have deterrence against Israel?"

Amirahmadi: "In international relations, deterrence means that the other side isn't bold enough to attack. For example, before Pakistan produced a bomb, it was faced several times with attacks by India. Of course Pakistan also defended itself, but it wasn't in a position to tell India, 'That's it, enough, don't attack!' Until Pakistan produced a bomb, and India was forced to sit still. India also had an experience like this with China. China attacked India on the Himalayan border. During that time, China had bombs, but India did not. Years later, India also produced a bomb and the problem was solved. That is, instead of China attacking India, it is [now] doing business with it.

"Deterrence means arriving at the situation that prevails between India and Pakistan or between India and China. This situation does not exist between Israel and its enemies. None of Israel's enemies can tell it 'Die!' or [to not] attack so much or kill so many Palestinians. All of Iran's power and all the power of its proxies have not made Israel sit still and not carry out such operations in Gaza and to instead agree to resolve the Palestinian issue. Israel says, 'This is my policy.' Why? Because it has a [nuclear] bomb, and the others don't. That is, Israel has something we do not have.

"It is true that Israel has more planes and that America backs it up, but we also have missiles and planes, and we have more soldiers and geographic territory. But the world is a world of quality, not quantity. That small [country] Israel, which is not even the size of our Hamedan province, has defeated the entire Arab world. The Arabs are currently surrendering to Israel. Why? Because they have not been able to achieve a balance of power with it. Balance of power means deterrence. That is, when we have a balance of power with our enemy, we have deterrence against it.

"In the balance of powers, it is important to define power. Powers include the number of soldiers, the missiles, the tanks, the planes, the population, and so on. But in the final definition, unfortunately, the balance of powers is flipped with a few nuclear bombs, as happened in WWII between America and Japan. America saw that the only way to stop Japan was to use the bomb. If America had not used the bomb, it would have suffered heavy losses against Japan. In the past 70 years, the number of nuclear bombs in the world has increased from two to 15,000. But not even one of these has been detonated. This means that a [nuclear] bomb has become an agent of deterrence, stability, and peace.

"If Russia didn't have the bomb, we would currently be in World War IV or World War V. That is, America has attacked Russia many times, but because Russia has a bomb, America can't do much against Russia other than, say, provide financial and military support for Ukraine. Even its military support is cautious. That is, it is not [being provided] in a way that Ukraine could attack Moscow or St. Petersburg. America knows that if it does this, the Russians will use nuclear weapons and turn Kyiv to ashes."

Iran Chose The Option Of Confronting Israel – So Iran Must Have A Nuclear Bomb

"A nuclear bomb is highly deterrent. Iran has two options. One is to not get involved in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, or to approach it like Saudi Arabia does. The second option is to confront Israel, and this is the option that Iran chose. But Israel has nuclear weapons. In the face of such power, a balance of power must be achieved.

"If the status quo of the past 40 years in which there is no balance of power continues, Israel's behavior towards the Palestinians will not change. This struggle has continued 70 years and will continue another 70 years. There is only one way, and it is to end this dispute like Pakistan and India. Such a revolution requires a balance of power. This means that Iran must also produce a nuclear bomb, since the Arab states are not motivated enough to stop Israel.

"If Iran becomes nuclear, it won't even need to fire missiles at Israel. It would be enough to threaten it, because the threat would have enough weight behind it. As a seeker of peace who has lived his entire life in peace, I have arrived at the realization that nuclear bombs bring peace. In the past 70 years, there is no better option than the bomb, that has successfully created peace and stability.

"In my opinion, if Iran wants a better future for itself, for Palestine, and even for the Israelis, it must have a nuclear weapon. Even if we have a million missiles, we will not be able to restrain Israel until we have a [nuclear] bomb.

"The second way is of course for Israel to not have a nuclear bomb.

"Besides these two scenarios, we can [continue] to play power games with Israel, but we will not be able to restrain it. If the power game reaches the final phase, if we do not have a nuclear bomb, we will not be able to stand on the last step [of the ladder].

"In WWII, had Japan had a nuclear bomb, America would not have attacked it. But Japan didn't have a nuclear bomb, and America decided the mission of that war. This is not a theoretical discussion; it is empirical. Iran's attack on Israel reflected Iran's power, but power does not necessarily mean deterrence in the exact sense of the word. Deterrence against a country that has a nuclear weapon is not possible without a nuclear weapon. I support a nuclear Iran because I support Iran's peace and deterrence [emphasis in original]."

Question: "The Washington Post has reported that Russia gives weapons to Iran in order to strengthen its defense systems. What is your opinion on Russia's stance on the military conflict between Iran and Israel?"

Amirahmadi: "It is not strange or extraordinary that Russia is giving tools of war to Iran in this special situation. Iran certainly requested them, and Russia will certainly give Iran the necessary weapons. The Russians also gave weapons to Iran during the Shah's era. Russia's stance regarding this dispute is that Israel is wrong."

Question: "What is the position of the Iranians abroad with regard to Iran's attack on Israel?"

Amirahmadi: "There are three categories of Iranians abroad. Most are apolitical and are busy with their work and their lives. In my opinion, Iranians mostly support Iran and love their country. That is, they are worried that the Iran-Israel conflict will harm the Iranian people, historic monuments, and civilization. Some expat Iranians also support the government, and they are not few in number. They were happy about Iran's attack on Israel, and they support Palestine and the oppressed forces in the region – that is, [Iran's] proxies.

"A few Iranians living abroad oppose the Islamic Republic, and [strive to] undermine it. There are several groups [attempting to] undermine it. Most of them want Israel or America to attack Iran so that America can relieve the country of the Islamic Republic's rule and hand it over [to somebody else]. In my opinion, Iran's attack on Israel greatly disappointed these people. On the one hand, they say that Iran's attack on Israel was not important. On the other hand, they want Israel to carry out a massive attack on Iran. In my opinion, these subversives are the enemies of Iran and a fifth column. They oppose the Islamic Revolution and are not patriots. Even today, because they lost, they are very agitated and disappointed. Especially their leaders, who no longer know what to say. They claim that not even one of Iran's missiles hit Israel...

"By the way, the military conflict between Iran and Israel completely destroyed this subversive power, because they pinned their hopes on an Israeli and American war on Iran at some point, and that the Islamic regime would fall, and then they could come and take power [in Iran]. But now they have understood the power of the Islamic Republic, and that America is compromising with Iran, and that Israel does not want to start a big war with Iran."

Question: "What do you think about Israel's [retaliatory attack] on Iran?"

Amirahmadi: "It isn't known exactly what Israel did, but it is clear that it did nothing extraordinary. It appears that it, in coordination with America, wanted to respond and to put in an appearance, but it did not strike anywhere. I do not think that Iran will respond to the Israeli strike [in Isfahan], but Iran needs to take advantage of this opportunity this week and quit the IAEA [sic] and the JCPOA, and to say that Islam does not forbid nuclear weapons. Afterwards, it should make a deal with America regarding its proxies, and get a green light from America to build a nuclear bomb.

"In my opinion, in the current circumstances, America is ready for Iran to have a bomb in order to achieve a balance of power with Israel. I have been saying for years that the only way to peace and stability in the Middle East is for Iran to produce a bomb. This is how the problems of Iran and America, of Iran and Israel, or of Israel and the Arabs and of Israel and Palestine will be resolved. That is, the existing problems will be resolved by means of compromise, and if they are not, these battles will continue forever."[3]


[1] For a list of all MEMRI reports on Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's nonexistent fatwa, see Appendix II: MEMRI Reports On The Nonexistent Nuclear Fatwa in MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1761, Senior Iranian Regime Officials Warn Of Iran's Coming Nuclear Breakout, April 25, 2024.

[2] Guardian (U.K.), July 22, 2009; New York Times, July 23, 2009. See also MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 888,  Iran Becomes A Nuclear Threshold State, October 4, 2012.

[3] Asr-e Iran (Iran), April 20, 2024.

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