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PROJECT TOPIC- IRANIAN GOVERNMENT’S URANIUM ENRICHMENT AND STRATEGIC BALANCE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

PROJECT TOPIC- IRANIAN GOVERNMENT’S URANIUM ENRICHMENT AND STRATEGIC BALANCE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

 

ABSTRACT

This study examines the nature, character, dynamics and motivating forces behind Iranian quest for uranium enrichment and balances of power relations in the Middle East. On this account, the objectives of our research is geared towards evaluating the link between Iranian uranium enrichment and strategic balance in the Middle East; United States unilateral enforcement of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and nuclear enrichment crisis in the Middle East; United Nations multilateral intervention in the Middle East nuclear confrontation. Our study derives its analytic and theoretical foundation from the Balance of power at multipolarity theory, the qualitative method of data collection, and ex-post-facto research design. Using Ex post facto research design, qualitative method of data collection and qualitative descriptive method of data analysis, our study found out among other things that Iran’s uncooperative attitude to the United Nations-backed International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections, verification and enforcement
mechanisms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) casts doubts upon the credibility of the Iranian nuclear programme. Our research methodology reveals that the lack of interpersonal trust by the West and Israel on the one side, and the Iranian government on the other side, plays a critical role in the diplomatic row generated by Iranian government’s quest for nuclear weapons development. Majorly, the study recommended among other measures that the United States should open up direct talks with Iran, while the Iranians themselves should ensure that their quest for nucleation is basically for civil-power generation purposes.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

Nuclear weapons are explosives designed to release nuclear energy on a large scale. Prior to 1945, wars were basically fought by conventional weapons that derived their power from the rapid burning or decomposition of some chemical compounds, leading to the release of limited amounts of energy, which caused limited degrees of damage. However, the development of the first atomic bomb (A-bomb), which was tested on 16 July, 1945, at Alamogordo, New Mexico, United States America, completely changed all known concepts of modern warfare.

The A-bomb gained its power from splitting, or fission, of the atomic nuclei in isotopes of plutonium or uranium, causing the release of a massive amount of energy in a very short time. The strength of the explosion created by an atomic bomb is on the order of the strength of the explosion that would be created by thousands of tons of Trinitrotoluene (TNT). (Microsoft Encarta, 2009). We will interchangeably use the phrase ‘atomic bomb’, ‘nuclear weapons’, or ‘nukes’ in the course of this writing. There are two basic types of nuclear weapons: those which derive the majority of their energy from nuclear fission reactions alone, and those that use nuclear reactions to begin nuclear fusion reactions that produce a large amount of total energy output. The weapons whose explosive output is exclusively from fission reactions from the nucleus of the atom are commonly referred to as atomic bombs or atom bombs.
The other basic type of nuclear weapon produces a large amount of its energy through nuclear fusion reactions by using the energy of a fission bomb to compress and heat fusion fuel. Such fusion weapons are generally referred to as thermonuclear weapons or hydrogen bombs (H-bombs), as they rely on fusion reactions between isotopes of hydrogen (deuterium and tritium). However, all such weapons derive a significant portion, and sometimes a majority, of their energy from fission. This is because a fission weapon is required as a “trigger” for fusion reactions, and the fusion reactions
can themselves trigger additional fission reactions. All thermonuclear weapons are considered to be much more difficult to successfully design and execute than miniature fission weapons (Muller, 2009).

PROJECT TOPIC- IRANIAN GOVERNMENT’S URANIUM ENRICHMENT AND STRATEGIC BALANCE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

 

There are other types of nuclear weapons as well. For example, a boosted fission weapon is a fission bomb which increases its explosive yield through a small amount of fusion reactions, but is not a fusion bomb. Some weapons are designed for special purposes, such as the neutron bomb. Neutron bomb is a thermonuclear weapon purposely designed for explosive yields lower than other nuclear weapons. This is because neutrons are absorbed by air, so a high-yielding neutron bomb is not able to radiate neutrons beyond its blast range and so would have no destructive advantage over a normal hydrogen bomb. It is sometimes referred to as ‘weapons of reduced collateral effects’.

Neutrons bombs could be used as strategic anti-ballistic missile weapon or tactical weapons intended for use against armoured forces. It was originally conceived during the Cold War by the United States (US) military as a weapon that could stop Soviet troops from overrunning Allied nations without destroying the infrastructure of the Allied nation (Barrriot, 2008; Muller, 2009; Microsoft Encarta, 2009).
The first A-bomb to be tested (Trinity bomb) was a sphere of plutonium about the size of a baseball, which produced an explosion equal to 20,000 tonnes of TNT (equivalent to the bomb load of 2000 United States B-29 bombers). Brigadier General Thomas Farrell (United States Army) in his report to the United States government on the destructive nature of this new bomb in 16 July 1945 stated that, “the effect could be called unprecedented, magnificent, beautiful, stupendous, and terrifying.

No man-made phenomenon of such tremendous power had ever occurred before. The lighting effects beggared description. The whole country was lighted by a searing light with the intensity many times that of the midday sun ….” (Nuclear Files Report, 2011:2). The A-bomb was developed, constructed and tested by the Manhattan Project, a massive United States enterprise that was established in August 1942, during World War II (1939-1945). The Manhattan Project which was headed by United States Army Brigadier General Leslie R. Groves worked in various locations at Los Alamos, New Mexico under the direction of American Physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer.

The Manhattan Project developed two bombs, codenamed “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” which was dropped at two Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August 1945 respectively. These two bombing resulted in the death of approximately 200,000 Japanese people – mostly civilians from acute radioactive injuries sustained from the explosions and after-effect of radiation (Wikipedia, 2011). This ultimately changed the specter and dynamics of international relations. The end of World War II, forced the major powers then to adopt a nuclear warfare strategy which is a policy based on preventing an attack by a nuclear weapon from another country.

 

This deterrence policy triggered off massive nuclear arms race between the West led by the US and Eastern bloc countries led by the Soviet Union, culminating in the Cold War. The advent of this weapon of mass destruction (WMD) including chemical and biological agents, was summed up by the late British military strategist, Basil Liddell Hart as, “with the advent of atomic weapons, we have come either to the last page of war or the last page of history” (UNIDIR, 1993:12).
The possession of atomic weapons by the United States since 16 July 1945 and their subsequent use against Japanese cities precipitated the mad rush for possession of nukes amongst the major powers, and formation of strategic alliances. The Americans aided the British and French to acquire their nuclear weapons while the Soviet Union assisted the Chinese (Guilmartin, 1996). These countries emerged as the “Big 5” and it dictated the various political, defence and strategic policies of the Cold War era, thus leading to the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and
Warsaw Pact strategic alliances.

The combat doctrine of these alliances during the cold war was based on a strategy of nuclear deterrence which oscillates between “massive retaliation” (1950’s), “flexible reaction” (1960’s) “realistic threat and containment” (1970), “direct confrontation” or “mutually assured destruction (MAD)”(1980’s), “strategic defense initiative (SDI)” (also known as star wars) in the late 1980’s and currently “reduced reliance”(Wikipedia, 2011 & Bundy, et al, 1987: 164).

The changes in the NATO and Warsaw Pact combat doctrines were occasioned, at least in part with the changes in the other part of the strategic alliance. The United States and the Soviet Union amongst the Big 5 had maintained large stockpiles of both conventional and nuclear arsenals which include thermonuclear weapons in the megaton range, neutron bombs, tactical nuclear weapons, and suitcase nukes. Fortunately for all sides, an all-out nuclear World War III between NATO and the Warsaw Pact alliances did not take place, till the end of the Cold War in early 1990s. However, several proxy wars did occur as witnesses in Afghan-Soviet War (1979- 1989), Arab-Israeli Conflicts (1948-present), Angolan Civil War (1974-2002),

PROJECT TOPIC- IRANIAN GOVERNMENT’S URANIUM ENRICHMENT AND STRATEGIC BALANCE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

 

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