Yet this is hypocrisy to which we’ve grown so accustomed that nobody seems to notice it any more. The nuclear club is meant to be exclusive. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty recognises the five permanent members of the UN security council as “nuclear weapons states”, committing them to act as bouncers at the club door. The treaty theoretically obliges these members to ditch their own nukes in the fullness of time – an aptly pompous expression, for an otherwise nuke-free world would make a rogue state with even one bomb so powerful that the chances of universal disarmament are zero. Ever since Hiroshima, we’ve been faced with the depressing fact that you cannot un-invent something.

You also cannot retain a device for yourself and then lecture others that they are not “entitled” to it. Iran is, alas, just as entitled to nuclear weapons as the US and Britain. Ditto North Korea. All the Obama administration has the moral and political right to assert is: “We don’t want Iran to have nuclear weapons.” To which Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would quite sensibly respond: “So what?”

Which, insofar as enrichment of uranium for domestic nuclear energy use goes, he has. Granted, the IAEA has been frustrated in its attempts to verify the existence of an Iranian nukes program at all, but Iran has maintained the right to develop one. And as I have said before, we can do nothing to stop them. Which doesn’t mean someone won’t try.

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