MONTAGNE: In what ways is Iran different from these other countries?
Prof. REISS: Iran believes itself to be the inheritor of a great culture, a great civilization: Persia. So, there is a sense of nationalism, a sense of cultural pride that believes that it deserves to have a seat at the top table and that nuclear weapons are part and parcel of what makes a great power.
In addition, it also believes itself to be in a tough neighborhood, to face security threats on its borders, to have a hostile relationship with the worlds leader power, the United States, and therefore, have some real security concerns that need to be addressed.
And, therefore, the factors, the incentives, that some of these countries, like South Africa, Argentina and Brazil had, to integrate themselves into the community of nations, may cut the other way for the leadership in Tehran, and thats a particularly difficult conundrum; and I think you could make an argument that the Iranians can look to what India and Pakistan did in 1998 and what, more recently, North Korea has been able to do in terms of increasing its nuclear competence, (unintelligible) ask themselves what penalties have these countries really had to pay. That, in fact, they havent paid very many penalties for this and, in some cases, they've actually been rewarded.
And so, yes, they're different. Each one is unique. But, again, the Iranians may feel that theyre going through a particularly tough time right now. They simply have to brazen it out and that when they get to the end of the tunnel, theyll be fine and theyll be a nuclear weapons state at the same time.
To ward off a possible objection, I should point out that I understand that Prof. Reiss is not advocating these motives, merely interpreting the mullahs' motives. But what's missing from that analysis? What reason other than the ones given could be spurring the program? Why, the one the mullahs have been most vocal about, is all: to exterminate Israel. No link, there's too many soundbites easily available. So why the needless omerta here on NPR? Beats me.