Can we live with a nuclear Iran?

Awful choices with unpredictable consequences


Can we live with a nuclear Iran?
by Bill Keller

IRAN has returned to the front pages after a summer hiatus. Negotiations aimed at preventing the dreaded Persian Bomb have resumed their desultory course. Iran, although suffering from the international sanctions choreographed by the Obama administration, keeps adding new arrays of centrifuges while insisting the program is strictly nonmilitary. Israel is — or maybe isn’t — edging closer to a unilateral strike. The U.S., we learn from The Times’s reliable David Sanger, is considering more and bigger bouts of cybersabotage. Meanwhile, the mullahs are shipping arms to their embattled fellow despots in Syria.

This strikes me as a good time to address an unnerving question that confronts any concerned student of this subject: Can we live with a nuclear Iran? Given a choice of raining bunker-busting munitions on Iran’s underground enrichment facilities, or, alternatively, containing a nuclear-armed Iran with the sobering threat of annihilation, which is the less bad option? As the slogan goes in Israel: “Bomb? Or The Bomb?”

The prevailing view now is that a nuclear Iran cannot be safely contained. On this point both President Obama and Mitt Romney agree. They can hardly say otherwise; to even hint that a nuclear Iran is acceptable would undermine the efforts aimed at preventing that outcome. But I tend to think they mean it.

However, there are serious, thoughtful people who are willing to contemplate a nuclear Iran, kept in check by the time-tested assurance of retaliatory destruction. If the U.S. arsenal deterred the Soviet Union for decades of cold war and now keeps North Korea’s nukes in their silos, if India and Pakistan have kept each other in a nuclear stalemate, why would Iran not be similarly deterred by the certainty that using nuclear weapons would bring a hellish reprisal?

Anyone who has a glib answer to this problem isn’t taking the subject seriously. Personally, I’ve tended to duck it, taking refuge in the hope that the tightening vise of international pressure — and a few cyberattacks — would make Iran relent and spare us the hard choice. But that could be wishful thinking. So I’ve spent some time reading and questioning, trying to report my way to an opinion.

Let’s assume, for starters, that Iran’s theocrats are determined to acquire nuclear weapons. Western analysts say there is no evidence yet that the supreme leader has made that decision. But if you ruled a country surrounded by unfriendly neighbors — Persians among the Arabs, Shiites among the Sunnis — a country with a grand sense of self-esteem, a tendency to paranoia and five nuclear powers nearby, wouldn’t you want the security of your own nuclear arsenal?

Let’s assume further that diplomacy, sanctions and computer viruses may not dissuade the regime from its nuclear ambitions. So far, these measures seem to have slowed the nuclear program and bought some time, but Iran’s stockpiles of enriched fuel have grown in size and concentration despite everything a disapproving world has thrown at them so far. So, then what?

A pre-emptive bombing campaign against Iran’s uranium factories would almost certainly require major U.S. participation to be effective, and would not be neat. Beyond the immediate casualties, it would carry grave costs: outraged Iranians rallying behind this regime that is now deservedly unpopular; Iran or its surrogates lashing out against American and Israeli targets in a long-term, low-intensity campaign of retaliation; a scorching hatred of America on the newly empowered Arab street, generating new recruits for Al Qaeda and its ilk; an untimely oil shock to a fragile world economy; an unraveling of the united front Obama has assembled to isolate Iran. All that, and a redoubled determination by Iran’s leaders to do the one thing that would prevent a future attack: rebuild the nuclear assembly line, only this time faster and deeper underground. There is a pretty broad consensus that, short of a full-scale invasion and occupation of Iran, a preventive attack would not end the nuclear program, only postpone it for a few years.

Now imagine that Iran succeeds in making its way into the nuclear club.

Despite the incendiary rhetoric, it is hard to believe the aim of an Iranian nuclear program is the extermination of Israel. The regime in Iran is brutal, mendacious and meddlesome, and given to spraying gobbets of Hitleresque bile at the Jewish state. But Israel is a nuclear power, backed by a bigger nuclear power. Before an Iranian mushroom cloud had bloomed to its full height over Tel Aviv, a flock of reciprocal nukes would be on the way to incinerate Iran. Iran may encourage fanatic chumps to carry out suicide missions, but there is not the slightest reason to believe the mullahs themselves are suicidal.

The more common arguments against tolerating a nuclear Iran are these:

First, that possession of a nuclear shield would embolden Iran to step up its interference in the region, either directly or through surrogates like Hezbollah. This is probably true. But as James Dobbins, a former diplomat who heads security studies for the RAND Corporation, told me, the subversive menace of a nuclear Iran has to be weighed against the lethal rage of an Iran that had been the victim of an unprovoked attack.

A second worry is that a Persian Bomb would set off a regional nuclear arms race. This is probably an exaggerated fear. A nuclear program is not cheap or easy. In other parts of the world, the proliferation virus has not been as contagious as you might have feared. So the Saudis, who regard Iran as a viper state, might be tempted buy a bomb from Pakistan, which is not a pleasant thought. But Egypt (broke), Turkey (a NATO member) and the others have strong reasons not to join the race.

Most worrisome, I think, is the danger that a crisis between Israel and Iran would escalate out of control. Given the history of mistrust and the absence of communication, some war planner on one side or the other might guess that a nuclear attack was imminent, and decide to go first.

“You would have a very unstable deterrent environment between Israel and Iran, simply because these are two states that tend to view each other in existential terms,” said Ray Takeyh, an Iranian-American Middle East scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations, who is not an advocate of containment. Against this fear, history suggests that nuclear weapons make even aggressive countries more cautious. Before their first nuclear tests, India and Pakistan fought three serious conventional wars. Since getting their nukes they have bristled at each other across a long, heavily armed border, but no dispute has risen to an outright war.

At the end of this theoretical exercise, we have two awful choices with unpredictable consequences. After immersing myself in the expert thinking on both sides, I think that, forced to choose, I would swallow hard and take the risks of a nuclear Iran over the gamble of a pre-emptive war. My view may be colored by a bit of post-Iraq syndrome.

What statesmen do when faced with bad options is create new ones. The third choice in this case is to negotiate a deal that lets Iran enrich uranium for civilian use (as it is entitled to do under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty), that applies rigorous safeguards (because Iran cheats), that gradually relaxes sanctions and brings this wayward country into the community of more-or-less civilized nations.

That, of course, won’t happen before November. Any U.S. concession now would be decried by Republicans as an abandonment of Israel and a reward to a government that recently beat a democracy movement bloody. We can only hope that after the election we get some braver, more creative diplomacy, either from a liberated Obama or (hope springs eternal) a President Romney who has a Nixon-to-China moment.

Because a frank look at the alternatives of (a) pre-emptive war and (b) a nuclear Iran should be enough to focus all of our intelligence and energy on (c) none of the above.

First published in The New York Times.

Bill Keller is an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times and writes for The New York Times Magazine.


Arda Kaikhushroo Batha

Unclear Iran

by Arda Kaikhushroo Batha on

Bill Keller is as objective as one can hope for, given the absence of crucial facts related to Iran's nuclear programme.//


Koochooloo, They don't feed

by Mashala on


They don't feed me, I feed them!!!

God Bless USA

Dr. Mohandes


by Dr. Mohandes on

You got it wrong again, I use that language because i face a torrent of nonsense coming to me from your side so i put that up as my guard. hope we are clear on that one.

I am glad that you recognize and see someone like you own self in me, an isane one :))) 

oh on the contrary, it makes perfect sense. someone has to be rough with these guys, don't they? someone needs to show them how to behave.

What shame? I dare you to compare the rate of such violations in those civilized nations and in countries such as iran and mayanmar, and then if you can look me in the eyes and tell me with a straight face, that they are beyond comparison, i will believe you, but until then, i suggest you keep it to yourself.

Wrong. It will only be when they can negotiate their differences, where the HR violations will still be there. if and when an invasion takes place, and things start to change on a grand scale, there will be no stanlist-style gov. so therefore there will be no HR violation, at its current scale. quit dreaming, no i mean it, seriously.

That same civilized society is the one who is feeding you and putting bread on your table and will take care of your behind when you are old and fragile. the least you can do is to show some gratitude and put on your i-give-a-crap mask on for a while.

You are mumbeling again. Yes they can, and they will if they are pushed enough. any low IQ person knows that i can not do this alone. yes i want to leave the door open and NOT for the invaders for those who are willing to assist us. thank god i am the only kid, and i do feel bad if something like that happens to anyone's sister and brother, but i am sure people are smarter than allowing it to happen to their families.

again with this civilized world. baba, it is giving you your livelihood, show some appreciation. stop being an "assa ghoort dade" typical irooni. 


Dr. Mohandes

by Mashala on

What is with Okayyyy. eye veeeel...

You sound like www.Bush 

I have noticed, you use this language when you run out of words or maybe you tongue gets stuck in your mouth.  

You can't claim innocent by reason of insanity here. Even though, you sound like one.

Human rights violations and nuclear technology are two very different issues. Saying IRI or Iran can have it, if she is on our side and cannot have it, if she is against us, does not cut it!

With or without nuclear technology, human rights are being violated all over the world and IRI is no exception. Myanmar being the latest! What your civilized world has done about it, other than possibly even encouraging it to begin with? That is a shame.

You play the nuke card to get rid of Mullahs and achieve human rights in Iran, Israel and west play to dominate or destroy Iran. At the end of the day, if they negotiate and resolve the nuclear issue, Mullahs and human rights problem will still be there. If war breaks out, Iran will be destroyed along with Israel and many others and Mullahs and human rights violations will still be there.

Assuming IRI already has the Nuke, that is just an insurance policy against foreign enemies. IRA cannot use that against public.  So, if you want to topple IRI, feel free to do that anytime yourself. But if you want to leave the door open for invaders, then you have a point. Just remember, next it can be your sister being raped and tortured by your civilized world or your brother's dead body being pissed on.  

Besides, IRI having Nukes does not necessarily mean they will use it.  North Korea is being starved by your civilized world and still hasn't used it. Pakistan is being bombed everyday and hasn't used it.  But your civilized world………   



Sasan.khoramdin: Many people around the world believe….

by Bavafa on

Precisely what you have indicated here, only for the US and during the GWB infamous reign of power.  Many believe that the Right wing Zionist regime has been taking too many Viagra all the while they have been raping the Palestinians from their land.  And of course many including myself believe that for the IRI to have nuclear bomb is like a big dose of Viagra to a known rapist.


'Hambastegi' is the main key to victory 



Option d

by shushtari on

Exterminate the mullahs 

If the akhoonds get the bomb, they will likely never be toppled

No one wants Iran to be attacked....we are here all because of the loony mullahs who have brought Iran to edge of another war

I definitely don't think the Israelis have the right to threaten Iran but they are the only ones who pose a real threat to akhoonds. They are the ones calling out the mullahs for who they really are

Iran deserves a lot better than the murdering mullahs

Lets hope they don't last another year 

hamsade ghadimi

bahmani: "...traditional

by hamsade ghadimi on

bahmani: "...traditional western game of chess..."

spoken like a true japanese. :)

Esfand Aashena

Bahmani do North Koreans play backgammon too?

by Esfand Aashena on

You are assuming Iran won't retaliate to a pre-emptive Israeli strike.  That equates in backgammon in assuming that a player leaves as many checkers open to strikes as possible, in order to "fill" the opponents house!  9 out of 10 this strategy fails and the one time it works is usually if your opponent is new to the game.

Did North Korea play its nuke hand like this?  They have crossed all kinds of "red lines" and deadlines.  They have not only nuclear weapons knowhow but have said repeatedly that they're going to not only proliferate the nukes but also willing to do a first strike on South Korea or Japan!  They sent a missile over Japan's head and few months ago pulled a rocket out of its silo for launch with presumably nuke capable warhead under the watchful eye of the world. It failed but the "civilized world" was watching to see if it works!

And what is the "civilized world" doing about the nuclear North Korea?  Living with it!  More sanctions while the North Koreans are dying of starvation and Jon Kim Un Ill or whatever his name is, showcasing his new bride and wearing Mickey Mouse caps!

So at the end of the day the "civilized world" is going to live with a nuclear Iran, no better yet nuclear IRI!  IRI oh IRI!  All sides are just BSing just like you do in backgammon, in this regard I agree with you! 

Everything is sacred

Dr. Mohandes


by Dr. Mohandes on

Okayyyy. eye veeeel... haw eeez my eenegeeeleeesh?
doez you teeeenks eet eezzz good?

Chi chi tradeeekt myslef??? contemproararedict??? vat do you say? repeeeeeet eeet.

By de veeyyy

Speaking of negative charactristics. i see you as one and i will promise i will be working on it:)

love uuuuuuu. akbari sendzzz hello to uuuuuu. 


Dr. Mohandes

by Mashala on


......don't contradict yourself!

Continue working on your negative characteristics!


Dr. Mohandes

All these dicussions

by Dr. Mohandes on

Become Null and void unless and until we carry out the noble task of making the distinction between:

The civilized and NON Civilized nations in the world.

Our world's major dillemma seems to be just that. forget about the rest. 


Yet to prove Iran is making

by Mashala on

Yet to prove Iran is making Nuke. Nations are awake. Fabrication won't work.  IAEA's double standards must stop. All countries must disarm their nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.


Islamist Rapist Rejime

by Sasan.Khoramdin on

Letting Islamist Rapist Rejime to have the nukes, is like giving Viagra to a convicted rapist.


IRR days are numbered! 


Did you say, Civilized

by Mashala on

Did you say, Civilized world? 

That is very funny. Could you define civilized? 

Countries that are causing the death and destruction we witness around the world are not in your civilized world, are they? 

So, How do you explain the contradiction? 

Are you really concern about human rights or to keep your civilized world satisfied?




Simple Minds, Complicated Issues!

by Faramarz on



The way the simple-minded, pro-Regime people look at the nuclear ambitions of the Islamic Republic goes something like this.

While the Regime denies having a weapons program they say that, "There is no evidence of such program and it is against Islam and Rahbar said so, and blah, blah, blah!"

The day that the Regime is caught red-handed with the evidence of a nuclear bomb, they will say, "Israel has the bomb, so do Pakistan, India and N. Korea. So what's the big deal?"

The civilized world will not allow this Regime to get its hands on nuclear weapons. 


Yes, we can live with a nuclear Iran

by Rea on

But NO, we can not live with a nuclear IRI. Too dangerous.


not complicated indeed

by Fesenjoon2 on

A serial rapist with a PROVEN track record of killing people should not be trusted with a knife.

Not complicated.

Hafez for Beginners

not complicated

by Hafez for Beginners on

Cherry picking who can and who can't be trusted with nuclear weapons is as dangerous as nuclear weapons themselves.

 Just de-Nuke the Middle East region. Not complciated. 

Dr. Mohandes


by Dr. Mohandes on

Okay so let's try it this way then.

DO you realize how unbearable it will become, and has it become since the freaking rial did a freaking summer-salt flip and went up as it never did before AND how it is impacting the people in iran AND their activities outside iran?? Do you? Honestly do you?

So having that in mind, you would call for and advocate even much harsher and severe diplomatic and economic pressure on this government to the point of sheer desparation. because this is what will happen , regardless of how much of a chelokabab/ ghelyoon loving patriot you are. and guess what. you would still have the same outcome that you are despising so much. They will still be in power. Weaker yes. but still in CHARGE.




The game is called Backgammon, not Chess

by bahmani on

Part of the problem the West and Israel (Sorry Israel is not part of the West) have in "not getting it", is that they approach each adversarial situation as if it is a traditional Western game of chess.

As if the game is intended to be won. It isn't.

The first thing the West needs to understand is that this game that Iran is playing skillfully and frankly, admirably given the results so far, is not a game of chess, whose outcome is the winner vanquishing the loser.

Things are not so black and white in the Iranscape.

The goal is to make your opponent screw up. And then lose. It is far more satisfying to allow your opponent the temporary illusion of victory, only to suddenly realize they have lost. That is a far more sweeter victory than any other. Total abject humiliation AND complete victory.

Or, the basic average backgammon match with my wife.

In order to accomplish this though, Iran has to let Israel think it is winning. This is where Israel would make the strategic mistake of a pre -emptive attack and strike Iran first.

Seemingly out of fear that Iran might have a weapon. In fact if Israel succumbed to this tempting bait, it would in essence destroy ANY evidence that Iran might have a nuke. Thereby making Iran the martyr of the world, and yet one more example of Israel's "outrageous audacity".

I mean, imagine NIAC's newsletter the next day after Israel attacks "Innocent Iran". I'll bet Trita could convince 12 liberal congressmen's interns that Iran was totally screwed.

Regardless, Israel's PR would be crushed, it's international image further tarnished among the very precariously seated Arabs and not as friendly as they used to be Europeans watching.

The attack by Israel that destroys any proof of Iran's nukes, allows Iran a full shot against Israel. If it wanted one.

By not taking the shot everyone would agree Iran deserves to take against Israel, Iran gains the moral upper hand and wins credibility points. Lots of them.

Meanwhile, Israel has to fumble all over itself, as it fears the inevitable attack that it now has to agree that Iran could justifiable make.

This is the game Iran is playing. It's not about actual nukes. It's about Israel and how to destroy the credibility of both the US and Israel in one majestic, beautiful move.

The only way out is not to play.

By assuming what Iran says is true and they don't seek weapons, you take the issue off the newswire. If Iran announces it has nukes, it proves it lied, and then you can take them out. Because everyone will agree lying about nukes is serious.

But at this time, trying to negotiate with Iran over how much nuclear activity is acceptable and how much isn't, is a waste of time and only allows Iran to bait the hook to snare Israel.

Obama barely gets it but is starting to suspect the game isn't Chess. Certainly someone as dense as Romney, even with the naive Bain Capital expertise, would not have the intellectual capacity to understand any of this nuanced backgammon being played.

Also, I am pretty sure Mormons aren't allowed to play backgammon either.

To read more bahmani posts visit: //


دکتر مهندس عزیز


As a matter of fact, I know full well what it's like to be living under oppression. I have have lived it and paid dearly for it!!!

Having said that, I understand your frustrations completely. However, I'm also a realist. I do not think that the NATO has applied its full force of economic and diplomatic sanctions! Case in point: Canada JUST closed the Iranian and embassy and look what happened to the rial!

I am not saying that economic and diplomatic pressures are the only solution. They are only part of the package. The picture that I do not wish to see in Iran is the disaster which happened to Iraq. This would give the Fascist Akhonds the opportunity to cry out once more (you would remember this if you ever lived in Iran under Akhondism):

"بار دیگر دست استکبار جهانی از آستین شیطان بزرگ به در آمد"

Dr. Mohandes


by Dr. Mohandes on

Can you please put a date on it? when can we expect to see the first move to be made but the ever so ready opposition groups in iran? people, my neighbors, and all my friends need to know. 2 days? 7 years? another 30 something years? pry tell us! 

 Do you even bother to consider the fact that more than most of these oppositon group's members are either incarcerated or otherwise under serious surveillance?  They could make one false move and a squad is sent right up to their doors and will take care of them. Do you even know what it means to live under severe oppressive condition? always being watched and monitored? Think about these before you go on with you fantasy island dreams.

Let's say that the EU countries took your words to heart and got on with more intense economic sanctions and really turned the heat on the government, as in today. So what is next? 

The Tide with the oppsition groups in iran has already been stemmed! and they are history, You guys need to quit dreaming and get on with reality and start supporting a swift and decisive move against this mess that we happen to be living in.

Stop dreaming, Start acting. You know? put the moneny where the mouth is. 


Esfand Aashena

U.S.: Israeli pressure on Iran "not useful"

by Esfand Aashena on

Obama administration: Israel pressuring U.S. on Iran "red lines" is "not helpful," or "useful" 

Another words stop crying to mama, you're no better than Iran when it comes to BS rhetoric! 

Everything is sacred


I'm with Fullback

by caspiantiger on

I believe that all the NATO countries as well as any free
country where individual freedoms are respected must do their utmost to intensify the current economic and diplomatic pressures on the Islamic Regime. Any type of direct military incursion, on the other hand, can play into the hands of the Fascist leaders of Iran and stem the tide of the opposition groups within Iran which shall soon rise and topple its occupiers.



by fullback on

 Mr. Keller first of all , You must be reminded that Iran Is an Occpied counrty. Iran is Occupied by the Islamist. please refer to her as is , The Islamist occupiers DO NOT repersent the intrest of Iranians .  If  The Islamist Occupiers of Iran were  a democratic Bunch and operated by the International rules, That is void of regime sponsered, 1) Hostage taking, 2)kiddnapping , 3)political assasination, 4)gender inequity, 5)Public Hanging, 7)Rape and shooting of Iranians in Public ,  The entire world would be OK with a Nuclear Islamist regime, But This not the case . The Islamist occupier of Iran have shown for the last 34 years  their true intentions.  These occupiers must be removed from Iran and brought to the International Criminal Court to answer for the crimes they have committed against an entire nation of IRAN.



by Mashala on

Hell No, we cannot trust any country with nuclear, chemical and biological bombs. I just looked back as you advised and I saw how people from Japan to Vietnam to south and Central America all the way to Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Afghanistan have been victim of these horrible bomb attacks by Iran.  Iran should be held responsible in a court of law for the death and destruction has brought upon these nations.  Otherwise, Iran will continue that in Pakistan, Yemen, Africa, north Korea and other parts of the world.  God Bless USA

Do you know what hafez means?  Opposite of sanctions and bombing you advocate!

Did you share you opinion with friends and family and public when you were in Iran? If you had, you would be walking wide open now.



Further proof the Ochs- Sulzberger family pays its shills well

by MaryamJoon on

NY TIMES (Keller): "prevailing view now is that a nuclear Iran cannot be safely contained."

* Prevailing according to whom?  You polled the people of the world or just Mort's Deli?   

* What's the prevailing view on Israeli apartheid?  

* What's the prevailing view on Israel's proliferation of nuclear warheads to Apartheid South Africa?

When the New York Times establishes a serious forum, where there is give and take in public opinion, and you let people challenge your daily recitation of the ingredients that make up your kosher hot dogs, then your musings may be taken seriously.  Otherwise NYT stories are just white noise colored with Israeli national anthem muzak that people will tune out. 



Do we trust the IR with a nuclear bomb? Think about it.

by hafez on

As usual Bill Keller provides us with a very good analysis.  

These are terrible times in the history of our country.  We are faced with awful choices.  In my opinion, we need to make sure that we understand the problem at hand.   Let me repeat the question again: do we trust the Islamic Republic with a nuclear bomb?

Let the history of the past 34 years be our guide.

The Islamic republic is a government whose guiding principles are NOT based on the protection of Iran and Iranians.  It is based on expanding their definition of Islam and freeing the holy lands from the hands of Jews.  From Islamic Republic’s inception in 1979, Iran’s clergy has spent billions of dollars setting up shop by Israel in the form of Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah.  These groups are armed to their teeth.  In fact the social security that IR provides for them can only be dreamed by average Iranians.  The mullahs see it as their duty and mission to free up these lands at any cost.  Iran’s sacrifice is only a small price.  This is the same government that had never shied away from killing its own people.  Iran is meaningless to them.  It is just a means to reach their goals. 

Again, let history be our guide.   Khomeini indicated on many occasions himself that he had no regard for Iran or Iranians.  When did he ever talk about the welfare of Iranians?  It was all about Islam.  This is the core and essence of the Islamic Republic.  It’s not about Iran.  It’s about Islam.

Is there even a small chance that the IR will use an atomic bomb to annihilate Israel?  My answer to this question is yes.  And if that happens Iran will be completely destroyed.  Not even a city will be left as Israel will respond with their arsenal of nuclear bombs.

Israel is only a fictitious enemy.   Israel is a nation that has never shied away from praising the Persian culture and Iranians.   It bears no harm to any of us.  The real enemy is within.  

Do I support the sanctions?  Yes.   Do I support an aerial invasion of Iran’s nuclear sites to set them back?  Yes.   The alternative is that there may be a chance of total destruction of Iran and loss of tens of millions of people.

Disclosure:  I am a Moslem.  Just came back from Iran as I travel there often.  My entire family lives in Tehran.



I just hope Al Qaeda don't

by Mashala on

I just hope Al Qaeda don't get their hands on Saudi Arabia's oil installations. That would be a terrible thing. That could totally change everything. God Bless USA


No we can not!

by omeedvar on

Majority of Iranians are against a nuclear Iran. However, they are afraid to express their views. Their brutal regime can not provide food and medicine for them. They have destroyed the middle class, and replaced it with a bunch of "Mostazafeens".

Japan and Russia with advance technology, are still suffering from the consequence of their nuclear accidents. Iranians, living in an earthquake zone, with a government that could not help the victims of recent earthquake in Azarbaijan, will have a nightmare, if Iran becomes nuclear, not to mention the danger to the neibouring countries. 

Iran with vast reservoir of gas and oil, does not need nulear plants for its energy, and they can buy the nulear material needed for medical purposes.