In a seminar talk at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in February, Efraim Inbar, political science professor at Bar-Ilan University and director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies in Israel, presented a stark view of the Iranian nuclear challenge to the world.
Inbar explained that Iran wants to acquire nuclear weapons for the following reasons: (1) as an insurance policy against possible efforts to destabilize the regime; (2) to deter a possible U.S. invasion; (3) to achieve regional hegemony; and (4) to block or limit Western influence in the region.
The Iranian strategy to acquire nuclear weapons, he stated, is to "talk and build"--use diplomacy with the West to gain time and ultimately present the Western powers with a fait accompli, the Iranian bomb. This is the same strategy that worked for North Korea.
Inbar is blunt about the consequences of a nuclear Iran. First, with a range exceeding 2000-2500 km, an Iranian bomb would pose an immediate threat to "the whole Middle East, Eastern Europe, India, Pakistan, even part of China." Second, it would undermine U.S. credibility in the world because the United States has announced that it is unacceptable for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. Third, it would increase Iran's influence over the "energy sector of the world economy," which Inbar described geographically as an "energy ellipse" encompassing the Caspian Sea basin and the Persian Gulf area which contains 70-80% of the world's oil reserves. Fourth, it would embolden all radical Islamists. Fifth, it would enable Iran to...