Why Iran May Go Nuclear
The Iranian nuclear saga and its repercussions are once again taking center stage. Is there anything left that President Trump might do to the Iranian people after his complete withdrawal from the Iran deal, renewed sanctions, and hawkish foreign policy towards Iran?
Of course, it goes without saying that if the financial gains that were promised to Iran in the aftermath of the nuclear deal are no longer there why would Iran wait to see any tangible results to come to its doorstep?
Rather, it is obvious Iran may go nuclear. At least the logic says so.
The U.S. and Iranian nuclear cooperation during the Shah’s reign didn’t materialize as the advent of 1979’s Islamic Revolution was rapidly approaching. However, historical archives show that the Shah clearly envisioned a nuclear Iran, as did his successors although the initial pace was slow.
Now, as there is no U.S. involvement to preserve the Iran deal, why would Iran have to abide by the terms? American absence imperils the regime which only a nuclear Iran can possibly change. Iran’s nuclear quest is more urgent than it was earlier.
Iran is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Iran’s nuclear aspirations for its energy security are more viable unlike other non-NPT members such as Israel, Pakistan and North Korea whose nuclear arsenals were developed for military use against adversaries in the region.
It was clear from the beginning that no nuclear deal would totally satisfy any parties involved in the deal. For President Obama achieving a comprehensive accord became impossible given the exigencies of the international episodes. During his tenure, Israel and Saudi Arabia were already wary of his foreign policy; the threat of the Islamic State was already on the rise, and the Israel-Palestine crisis had escalated. Nevertheless, the Obama administration saved the expedient deal in the hope that his diplomatic overtures would lead to re-engagement with Iran.
As the deal was never comprehensive, it was predictable that one of the members would withdraw from the deal. If it was not President Trump, Tehran itself could have walked out of the agreement.
Prolonged regional conflicts and debilitating effects of the past and ongoing chaos in the region have already cost Iran. Whether it was Iraq’s invasion or the post-September 11th events, during the rise of the Islamic State Iran was also vulnerable to terrorism.
As a consequence, no matter what the White House hawks argue against, Iran has an increasing role in the region, that should be quelled by an offensive military. No nation would like to see its national security compromised.
Iran’s isolation in the region will continue if a pragmatic nuclear option is not explored.
First, for both conservatives and reformists forming an anti-U.S. nexus with Russia and China is next to impossible. The pressure of economic sanctions that the Rouhani government is hoping to release with the help of France-Britain-Germany is likely to result in unfruitful outcomes. Although nothing has changed so far in regards to Moscow’s and Beijing’s opportunistic foreign policy in the region, economic relations with Iran remain important.
Second, compared to the Israeli national security goals, Iranian needs relate to its economy and security rather than its existence. In other words, Iran’s confrontation with Israel is military in nature. By keeping an ambiguous nuclear strategy, Israel still gained intangible benefits out of its nuclear deterrence although it has no strategic-depth to strike nuclear warheads on its immediate neighbors. By contrast, Tehran’s tumultuous relationship with Riyadh is both ideological and is motivated by gaining regional hegemony in the region.
Third, at the expense of America’s purchase of oil in return for money and weapons, Saudi Arabia poses a direct threat to Iran’s national security. Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MbS) heinous act in the Khashoggi murder case is an open secret demonstrating tacit support under the guise of American leadership. His recent inauguration of a nuclear research reactor and rhetorical remarks on the Iranian nuclear threat should be taken seriously.
From the Iranian perspective, therefore, a nuclear Saudi Arabia is of much more concern than Israel.
Finally, since the exposure of Tehran’s clandestine atomic pursuit in 2002, Israel-Sunni-Arab states have formed a superior alliance forming an anti-Iran nexus against the nuclear program. For regional stability, a nuclear Iran means a counter to Saudi arrogance. Also, Saudi Arabia’s malignant role in Yemen and Syria, its ideology and alignment with Israel are clearly indicative of the fact that to install an everlasting peace in the region is unfeasible.
Even a weak comprehensive deal couldn’t guarantee any reconciliation among Iran and the Sunni-Arab States.
So, Tehran has now learned that Iran’s nuclear restraint means strengthening America’s stranglehold in the region. Strong nuclear deterrence alone would resolve its isolation on the international stage. As a consequence, Iran’s nuclear program will now have a clear military dimension. Uranium enrichment is one way for Iran to attain latent nuclear capability and could lead to their developing nuclear weapons in the near future.
As a result, the U.S. will watch the rise of nuclear Iran.