The American Response to Pakistani and Iranian Nuclear Proliferation: A Study in Paradox
This article explores the paradox in the reaction of the United States to the two different proliferation cases: Pakistan's proliferation and Iran's weaponization effort. The article tries to find answer to the following key question; why the United States, as one of the guardians of the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) which would prefer to see a region that is entirely free of weapons of mass destruction, ultimately has accepted Pakistan's proliferation, while imposed considerable amount of pressure to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The paper posits that number of factors explain such differences; first, and at the theoretical level, Pakistan was never considered an “irrational” and “messianic” state like Iran, but regarded as a country with a certain degree of cold-war type nuclear rationality. Second and at the applied level, while Pakistan was a US ally with not having a history of challenging the United States, Iran has been considered enemy and a threat toward the US interest. Third, while Pakistan's nuclear arsenal was viewed as a defensive mean against overwhelming strength of India, Iran's possible nuclear arsenal considered to be for offensive uses against the United States and Israel. The fourth factor pertains to the consequences of proliferation, which is what happens when Iran's neighboring countries may feel threatened by Iranian nuclear weapon and proceed to develop their own arsenal. Fifth factor deals with the possible Iran's temptation to give some nuclear material to a terror group in which made the United States serious in preventing Iran's weaponization. Last but not least, Israel was not involved to pressure and agitate against Pakistan, while it was applied a tremendous pressure against Iran to prevent it from achieving nuclear weapons.