The precipice of history is an oxymoron; one simply cannot predict with accuracy the actions of, say a foreign policy, where each minute decision is determined by the moves of individuals and their attending folly. However, we may observe with merit the tide of events as they unfold and their possible pathways to violence and despair. One such issue is Iran’s so-called ‘right’ to enrich uranium.
To begin with, Iran has been on a decades-long march towards utilising highly weaponised levels of uranium. In fact, it would be remiss not to mention that the heart of Iran’s capabilities is supplied by the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR), which was shortsightedly gifted to the Shah by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967 – perhaps a blip at the time but certainly case-worthy of the argument in favour of labelling that year as a watershed moment for the Middle East and Gulf states. One must also realise that Iran has, in a way, indirectly admitted its (past) desire for nuclear weapons because it has used up higher than average amounts of uranium fuel at TRR due to high intensity research – presumably for purposes of secretly producing weapons. History cannot share with unmitigated accuracy Iran’s intentions for its reactors; however, there are fundamental facts which certainly point to the risks involved with ushering in a nuclear Iran. And the role of the United States in the affair is now, much more than ever, vital to the future of an already unstable (volatile) region.
Iran is a power broker in the Gulf and Middle East. No longer is it possible to deny the state’s role in propagating violence. From newly acquired mid-range missile technology in Gaza to openly supporting Assad’s decaying state in Syria by funnelling in Iranian special forces and Hezbollah, Iran maintains a steady hand over the region’s sectarian turmoil. Yet, up until the release of previously frozen funds due to Obama’s historic (not to mention successful) use of crippling economic sanctions against the Gulf state, Iran’s domestic affairs were in dire straits and the leadership faced a real threat to its authority as a state in ‘permanent revolution’. Without its ability to provide continued progress through ‘revolutionary’ Islamic rule, the Iranian religious leadership had no basis to justify its continued radical control of the state – which was no doubt grounds for an uprising from an increasingly dissatisfied population. To be sure, the foreign policy of Iran’s religious leadership is far-reaching and has been connected to major terror events since the 1979 revolution. A nuclear Iran would make it impossible to unseat this system of government and install a (moderate) substitute. Why should we help to prop up a regime that openly espouses killing our allies and dismantling our way of life? Would it not make more sense to isolate the hard-lined regime in order to let it flatline?
Iran’s religious hierarchy, as represented by the power vested in its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei, is another important consideration when estimating the state’s intentions. Like his predecessor, Khamenei believes that he is the highest living religious authority on Earth until the coming of Islam’s messianic Hidden Imam. This position is not unique to Khamenei; it will also pass down to his successor as it is considered inherent to the role of being Iran’s supreme leader. This often obscured designation of the leadership title is problematic because it allows for an effective masking of Iran’s millennial desire for domination via its Shia beliefs. Notwithstanding ISIS stealing headlines for its continuing seizure and governance over large portions of Arab territory, Iran also exerts its influence over foreign territories – e.g. in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Thus the Sunni/Shia divide – currently manifest in violent conflict – may prove advantageous to a nuclear Iran seeking to consolidate its protectorate over Shia territories. This, in turn, would allow Iran even higher levels of mobility for its clandestine activities across the region – i.e. its boiling conflict against Israel.
Moreover, should Iran develop into a nuclear state, it might serve as a formidable base for a resurgence of Russian intervention in the Middle East and Gulf region. After-all, Putin has shown considerable prowess in his ability to invade former Soviet territory; what would stop him from enjoying a sudden resurgence of Russian mobility in the Middle East? Iran and Russia are logical allies. Not only are they geographically connected, they are similarly crippled by Saudi Arabia’s heavy-handed debasement of the oil market. If battle lines are once again being drawn, a nuclear Iran will most surely aid a hitherto supportive Russia.
Quite simply, we cannot trust Iran. The presence of a high-ranking Iranian commander near the Golan Heights and the subsequent retaliation for his death via a proxy attack by Hezbollah on Israeli soldiers shows that this Islamic state is not interested in a peaceful co-existence in the world. The United States helped Iran to initiate its nuclear program, it’s important that we effectively dismantle it so as to avoid the catastrophic path that a nuclear Iran promises to lead us down.