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A Nuclear Iran and Proliferation

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A Nuclear Iran and Proliferation

It has been argued that the Israeli fear of a nuclear Iran is more due to the resultant threat of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East than an Iranian NW per se.23 The revolutions that have swept across the region over the year or so will conceivably lead to greater control of Arab foreign policy by the Arab street, thus animosity towards Israel will appear in future decision-making. Israeli apprehension is born out of the theory that an Iranian NW will, by way of the security concept mentioned previously, lead to proliferation in the region. Combine greater regional acrimony toward the Jewish state with an Arab nuclear capability and Israeli fears are comprehensible.

As Kenneth Waltz has argued, history demonstrates that the cascade concept (a state will rapidly construct NWs to counter strategic imbalance created by a hostile neighbour’s nuclear arming) is flawed. His argument is further consolidated by virtue of the fact that the fear of rapid nuclear proliferation has been vociferously audible in Western media almost every year since the 1960s, yet the world possesses only nine nuclear powers.24 Leaving this convincing argument to one side, would a nuclear Iran provoke proliferation in the Middle East?

Sagan’s aforementioned three theories assume that a state has the ability and the opportunity to develop a weapon.25 By inserting such a caveat we can eliminate numerous states from this predictive analysis of proliferation in the region. Whilst existing nuclear powers (China and Pakistan for example) may be willing to suffer international condemnation for the provision of nuclear technology to a strong regional player (perhaps Saudi Arabia) in return for the “strategic prize of security ties”, they are highly unlikely to do so for minor actors (Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait etc.) – irrespective of the ability of such states…...

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