Iranian nuclear aspirations and strategic balancing in the Middle East
journal contributionposted on 08.05.2015, 09:26 by Stephen Ellis, Andrew Futter
With a few notable exceptions, 1 it has become almost conventional wisdom to assume that a nuclear Iran is bad for its immediate neighbors, the wider Middle East region, and even the world.2 Such logic suggests that even an Iran with a nascent nuclear program would be emboldened in its meddling in Middle Eastern geopolitical affairs, present a serious, perhaps existential, threat to Israel and others, and could potentially lead to a nuclear-proliferation cascade among its immediate regional rivals. There is almost certainly some truth to these claims — and few people see an Iran armed with nuclear weapons as a good thing or something that should be welcomed. That said, much of the current debate has ignored or glossed over some of the other important geopolitical dynamics that have been driven by Iranian actions during the past decade: actions that have in fact been broadly positive for regional security and stability. As a result, if a comprehensive deal on the nuclear programme cannot be reached by the June 30 deadline, the strategic implications of latent or even a nuclear-armed Iran may not be as catastrophic as some have suggested and more subtle than many fear.