What are the consequences of a nuclear Iran? – opinion

Since 1979, Iran has sought to spread its revolution across the Middle East in its quest for regional hegemony.

PEOPLE GATHER around the water nuclear reactor at Arak, Iran, in December 2019. (photo credit: WANA NEWS AGENCY/REUTERS)
PEOPLE GATHER around the water nuclear reactor at Arak, Iran, in December 2019.
A nuclear armed Iran would have catastrophic implications for the security of the international community.
Earlier this month, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran is in serious violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The agency reported that Iran has 12 times the amount of enriched uranium that it is allowed to have under the JCPOA. Other violations have been reported. Despite these revelations, there are those in the West that dismiss the threat of Iran having nuclear weapons, arguing that even if Iran possessed them, they would never actually use them. However, even if Iran acquires nuclear weapons and never uses them, it would still have disastrous consequences for the security of the region and the international community.
A major consequence of Iran possessing nuclear weapons is that it would embolden the country’s imperial ambitions in the region. Since 1979, Iran has sought to spread its revolution across the Middle East in its quest for regional hegemony. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman commented on the imperialist nature of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s regime by stating, “He wants to expand. He wants to create his own project in the Middle East very much like Hitler who wanted to expand at the time.” Due to this, the nations of the Arabian Peninsula are particularly threatened by Iran’s ambitions. For instance, Bahrain is ruled by the Sunni Al Khalifa family, but its population is three quarters Shi’ite. Iran, which is predominantly Shi’ite, regards Bahrain as the 14th province of Iran. A nuclear armed Iran could attempt to militarily take over Bahrain and annex the kingdom. Iran could try to replicate this military maneuver in other parts of the region, such as in the eastern provinces of Saudi Arabia, where the towns of Qatif, Dammam, and al-Hasa have Shi’ite majorities and contain some of the country’s largest oil fields and refining amenities. By possessing nuclear weapons, other countries would be tentative to engage in military action against Iran out of fear of provoking a nuclear war.
 Similarly, the intensification of terrorism worldwide will increase if Iran acquires nuclear weapons. In September 2019, Iran launched drones and cruise missiles that attacked Saudi oil fields, which immobilized 5% of the world’s regular oil production. Iran was also responsible for attacking US troops stationed in Iraq in early January 2020. Additionally, as the world’s lead state sponsor of terror, Iran has supplied weapons to the enemies of Israel such as Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip. These organizations, along with Iran, have sworn to destroy Israel. Iran also supplies weapons to other terrorist organizations in the region such as Shi’ite militias in Iraq and the Shi’ite Houthi rebels in Yemen. Terrorism by Iran and its proxies against Israel, other countries in the region, and US military personnel would increase if Iran acquired nuclear weapons, since it would act as a deterrent against any potential counterattack. This would especially hold true if Iran was able to transfer nuclear technology to its terrorist proxies.
An additional consequence that could arise from a nuclear-armed Iran is that it could use the threat of nuclear weapons as leverage when it pertains to international waterways. The Bab-el-Mandeb Strait is a major international waterway for worldwide maritime shipping that’s located at the southwestern tip of Yemen and forms the southern entrance to the Red Sea. From the Red Sea, ships coming from the Indian Ocean would be able to go through the Suez Canal and into the Mediterranean and from there the Atlantic Ocean. As IDF Major (Ret.) Eliot Chodoff articulated, whoever controls the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait is essentially in control of the Suez Canal without having to physically be there. If ships are unable to get into the Red Sea, the Suez Canal becomes useless. If Iran decided to close the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait directly or through its Houthi proxy in Yemen, it would have deleterious effects on global commerce.
The other major international waterway Iran could threaten is the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. The Strait of Hormuz is arguably the world’s most important choke point through which oil is transited. According to the US Energy Information Administration, oil flows through the Strait of Hormuz in 2018 accounted for a third of global seaborne traded oil and around a quarter of global liquefied natural gas trade. In April of 2019, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s navy, Gen. Ali Reza Tangsiri, threatened that Iran would close the Strait of Hormuz. If Iran decides to close the Strait of Hormuz, it would have a detrimental effect on the price of oil and on the world economy as a whole. Iran, acting under a nuclear umbrella, would be able to deter other countries from taking military action against it if it ever decided to close either of these two crucial international waterways.
Considering these threats posed to the nations of the Middle East, many of these countries in the region would try to counteract the threat of Iran by pursuing nuclear weapons of their own. MBS reiterated that while Saudi Arabia does not wish to pursue nuclear weapons, “if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.” A nuclear arms race in one of the world’s most volatile regions could have potentially immeasurable dangers to global security.
In summation, given the potential adverse consequences and threats that could arise from a nuclear armed Iran, it is more important now than ever that the international community take more appropriate actions in ensuring that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon before it is too late.
 The writer is a recent law school graduate.