Iran — Gates: Nuclear Weapons Would Make Iran Less Secure

LONDON, June 8, 2010 — If Iran were to suc­ceed in acquir­ing nuclear weapons, the sub­se­quent chain of events would make that coun­try less secure, Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates said here today.

Dur­ing a news con­fer­ence, both Gates and British Defense Sec­re­tary Liam Fox expressed con­fi­dence that the Unit­ed Nations Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil soon will pass a new res­o­lu­tion impos­ing sanc­tions against Iran for its nuclear pro­gram and that more uni­lat­er­al sanc­tions could fol­low from coun­tries con­cerned about Iran’s nuclear ambi­tions.

Gates said he believes it’s not too late, and that inter­na­tion­al coop­er­a­tion has the poten­tial to stop Iran from devel­op­ing nuclear weapons.

“The key here is a com­bi­na­tion of diplo­ma­cy and pres­sure to per­suade the Ira­ni­ans that they are head­ed in the wrong direc­tion in terms of their own secu­ri­ty – that they will under­mine their secu­ri­ty by pur­suit of nuclear weapons, not enhance it,” he said. “For one thing, their obtain­ing a nuclear weapon would almost cer­tain­ly lead to pro­lif­er­a­tion of nuclear weapons else­where in the Mid­dle East and a num­ber of oth­er coun­tries.”

Fox said Iran is an increas­ing­ly mil­i­ta­rized coun­try with a hard-line, theo­crat­ic leader, and that it has shown in Iraq and Afghanistan its will­ing­ness to desta­bi­lize its neigh­bors.

“And third­ly, I think the over­whelm­ing fear we have is that if Iran is to become a nuclear-weapons state, it may well be the end of [the Nuclear Non­pro­lif­er­a­tion Treaty] as we know it,” Fox con­tin­ued. “And after all that sac­ri­fice that both of our coun­tries made get­ting us to the end of the Cold War, lim­it­ing nuclear pro­lif­er­a­tion, and hav­ing cel­e­brat­ed last year the 20th anniver­sary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, we sure­ly want to do more than leave the next gen­er­a­tion a lega­cy of a new nuclear arms race in the world’s most unsta­ble region.”

Gates said the Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion would set the stage for fur­ther action from the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty.

“One of the many ben­e­fits of the res­o­lu­tion is that it will pro­vide a legal plat­form for indi­vid­ual nations to then take indi­vid­ual actions that go well beyond the res­o­lu­tion itself,” he explained. “And I believe that a num­ber of nations are pre­pared to act pret­ty prompt­ly. But first things, first. The key is get­ting the res­o­lu­tion.”

Fox said the res­o­lu­tion would make clear to Iran’s lead­er­ship that the world takes the issue seri­ous­ly, and that it would send a sig­nal to the Iran­ian peo­ple that the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty has a quar­rel with their government’s nuclear pro­gram and not with them.

The Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion, Fox added, also would show that the series of sanc­tions against the Iran­ian lead­er­ship is not being applied by a small num­ber of coun­tries, but rather by “the entire glob­al com­mu­ni­ty, which is unit­ed in inter­na­tion­al law in try­ing to pre­vent what would be a major desta­bi­liza­tion in terms of inter­na­tion­al secu­ri­ty.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)