Some people argue Iran should be able to have nuclear weapons. After all, we have nuclear weapons. Likewise other nations like Russia, China, the UK, France, and Israel. So it's only fair Iran is allowed nuclear weapons.
However, I think this is a bit simplistic:
- Iran has a different moral and ethical code than we do. They don't act like Western democratic nations act. Right now I'm not saying they have a superior or inferior moral or ethical code than we do, per se. I'm just pointing out the difference.
When we say it's only fair to allow Iran to have nukes because we and others have nukes, we're granting Iran the right based on our morals or ethics. But since Iran doesn't share our moral or ethical sensibilities, it's not necessarily the case that they would do the same for us given their morals or ethics.
So there's not necessarily the same moral or ethical parity we might expect there to be.
In fact, common sense would seem to suggest it's highly unlikely if our roles were reversed - that is, if Iran were in our position as a superpower with nuclear weapons and we were a politically, socially, economically, and militarily weaker nation - that they would allow us to possess nuclear weapons. Why treat them in a way they almost certainly wouldn't treat us?
- Maybe we can compare the argument over allowing Iran to possess nuclear weapons to the argument that since some people have a gun everyone should be allowed to have a gun too.
a. But we don't necessarily allow everyone to own a gun. Some people are known criminals with a long history of crime. Say thieves and murderers.
Some people are mentally, emotionally, or psychologically unstable.
Some people are morally irresponsible.
And so forth.
b. What's more, even among gun owners, we also make other distinctions and restrictions.
For example, we require permits and licenses. We differentiate between different firearms such as guns and rifles. We don't allow everyone to own military grade guns. Concealed weapons.
And on and on.
c. The point is not that I'm against gun ownership. Rather the point is that it's necessary to draw distinctions even if we can agree upon a certain principle or principles. Let alone if we can't agree upon any principles.
- Generally speaking, a nation has the authority to restrain and/or punish its citizens if the citizen commits an immoral or at least illegal act (e.g. fines, imprisonment, death penalty). But who has the authority to restrain and/or punish a nation which commits an immoral act?
Another nation? An alliance of nations? The United Nations?
Sure, we can make alliances with other nations such as the Allies did against the Nazis and fascists in the Second World War.
All things equal, it'd most likely be easier for other nations to restrain an immorally acting nation which doesn't have nuclear weapons than an immorally acting nation which does have nuclear weapons. A nation with nuclear weapons is much harder to restrain.
A nuclear weapon is like a trump card. Nothing beats a nuclear weapon.
- Generally speaking it's easier to negotiate with nations which share significant and relevant enough commonalities such as the value for life. What do we do about nations which don't value life as Western democratic nations have historically valued life? Say suicidal nations that don't care about killing others even at the cost of their own extinction? At least the Russians subscribed to the notion of mutually assured destruction.
- Similarly, what about rogue groups like terrorist organizations which we can't directly retaliate against?
- Much depends on a nation's moral or ethical compass including its intentions. What's Iran's? Is it self-defense?
And why trust duplicitous nations?
- In fact, Iran will use nuclear weapons to gain leverage on the international scene. They intend to use nuclear weapons to keep us from interfering as much with their other non-nuclear activities such as sponsoring terrorism against Western democratic nations.