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Iran encircled by nuclear weapons

Tom Sutcliffe's piece on the Iranian nuclear weapons threat ( Comment, 24 August ) prompts me to raise a rarely mentioned point.

The prospect of a nuclear-armed Ahmadinejad is certainly a nightmare, but let us not pretend that attempts to avert this are based on moral principle rather than pragmatic realpolitik.



Iran is virtually encircled by nuclear-armed powers: Pakistan to the east, Russia to the north, Nato to the west, Israel to the south-west and the US Navy to the south. According to deterrence theory, it is thus, in principle, more justified in acquiring nuclear capability than any other country.



This theory remains central to US and British defence thinking, so much so that the phrase "Britain's nuclear deterrent" is now invariably used as simply a factual description, rather than begging the whole question at issue.



As a CND supporter since the late 1950s, I never found deterrence theory logically credible. The Iranian situation is but the latest instalment in the proliferation process which we foresaw back then. While deterrence theory prevails as official doctrine, principled ethical opposition to nuclear proliferation will remain stymied.



Graham Richards, Tunbridge Wells, Kent

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