To the Editor:

I wish to address some of the misconceptions that I read in Ms. Krishnamurthy’s editorial on Iranian nuclear proliferation. First, let me state where Ms. Krishnamurthy and I agree. It appears that we both agree that Iran seeks nuclear weapons. Despite adamant denials from the Iranian government, Iran’s desire to obtain extremely large quantities of highly-enriched uranium and plutonium belie the claim that this is for medical use.

The statement that “proliferation, especially in the context of Asia, is good” is a curious statement. In general, proliferation of weapons usually only benefits the arms-maker. The casual reader could ask: what about Asia in particular requires proliferation of nuclear weapons? I think that this statement is demeaning to Asians. A second statement of interest is “it is hypocritical of the U.S. to tell another country not to proliferate, considering no damage has been or will be done.” First, does that mean that since the U.S. once had slavery, it has no right to tell other countries not to have slavery? Second, how does Ms. Krishnamurthy know that no damage has been or will be done? Does she know Ayatollah Khamenei personally? Finally, she says that not acting in a rational manner (the doctrine of mutual assured destruction) is Islamophobic. I can easily cite an example of a non-Muslim country acting in a seemingly irrational manner – namely Germany invading the Soviet Union in 1941. Why did Hitler order the invasion of his ally Stalin in 1941, ignoring historical precedent? Because Hitler thought he could win.

I choose to follow history rather than the reassurances of Ms. Krishnamurthy. As a college freshman at Emory in 1979, I was part of a protest in front of Dobbs Hall protesting the seizure of our embassy in Iran. I have observed subsequent hostile actions, on the part of Iran, such as blowing up 241 U.S. Marines in Beirut in 1982, the murder of Navy diver Robert Stetham in an Iranian backed hijacking attempt and the killing of hundreds of servicemen by Iranian manufactured IEDS in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Obama reached out last week to Ayatollah Khamenei for direct talks, as suggested by Ms. Krishnamurthy, but was rebuffed by Khamenei. I don’t personally know how to solve the lack of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Iran, but I don’t believe that nuclear proliferation is the solution. I prefer that we remain stronger than our adversaries.

Jack L. Arbiser, M.D., Ph.D
Professor
Department of Dermatology
Emory University School of Medicine