Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in New York on Monday to crash the opening of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Review conference. In a typically long-winded speech, the fiery Iranian president sought to divert world attention from Iran’s nuclear weapons program to the unacknowledged nuclear arsenal of Israel.
“While the Zionist regime has stockpiled hundreds of nuclear warheads, instigated a number of full-fledged wars, and continues to militarily threaten and terrorize countries of the region, it enjoys the full support of the United States and of its allies to develop its nuclear weapon program,” the Iranian president exclaimed. “However, the same governments impose heaviest pressures and psychological warfare upon the member countries on the false pretext of probable diversions of their peaceful activities without giving any substantiated evidence.”
What Mr. Ahmadinejad was trying to convey with his clunky rhetoric was that there is a double standard in the world with regards to nuclear weapons. While Israel maintains a stockpile of nuclear weapons, Iran is being pressured to stop its peaceful nuclear program.
Take away the unbelievable claim that Iran is only seeking a peaceful nuclear weapons program and one would have to admit that Mr. Ahmadinejad has a point. There is a nuclear weapons double standard and it is one that the United States should be willing to defend.
It is easy to try to deflect Mr. Ahmadinejad’s position by claiming a legal loophole. Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and therefore is subject to its rules. Israel, on the other hand, is not a signatory. But this is hardly a satisfying answer. What if Iran was not a signatory to the NPT? Would we no longer care so much about Iran’s nuclear program?
Yes, there is a double standard when it comes to nuclear weapons. While the United States should clearly work to prevent nuclear proliferation, it would hardly be a security crisis if Canada announced tomorrow that it had developed a nuclear arsenal. For the many jokes Americans have about our neighbor to the North, we can at least trust them to act rationally.