Most importantly, it would make the Islamic Republic a great deal bolder in its foreign policy. Iran’s regional aspirations of hegemony would no longer be a matter of trying to appear like a bully, it would be one. And rather than threatening the region with a nuclear weapon, the weapon would give them the confidence to activate their proxies to cause trouble. Americans stirring up trouble in the region? Well, let’s send Hezbollah to nab a few in Lebanon to teach them a lesson. Or better yet, perhaps we can push Hamas to ratchet up their attacks on Israel, send them a few extra rockets and mortars. Memories of the eighties anyone?
Admittedly, this might be more difficult given the changes in the region in the past few months. But it is far from implausible.
An Iranian bomb would be bad for the region. In June, speaking to senior NATO officials, Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal said that an Iranian bomb would “compel Saudi Arabia … to pursue policies which could lead to untold and possibly dramatic consequences”, something he reiterated at the IISS GSR conference in September. The same is probably true of other states in the region – some have made it clear that an Iranian nuclear device would be an incentive for them to start their own programmes. Although turning to nuclear power does not necessarily mean getting the bomb, national fuel cycles pose a considerable proliferation threat, and increase the likelihood of a regional nuclear cascade.
Finally, an Iranian bomb would deliver a significant blow to the international non-proliferation and disarmament agenda. Iran signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968 and ratified it two years later. Its programme has since been subject to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verification. If the regime decides to get the bomb it will have abandoned the NPT. ...
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