Tags: Iran | John Bolton | Obama | nuclear deal | Saudis | Israel

John Bolton: Mideast Nuclear Arms Race 'Has Already Started'

By    |   Monday, 13 April 2015 11:47 AM

Negotiations with Iran and the perception of American weakness are accelerating the risk of a nuclear weapons race in the Middle East, not reducing it, says former ambassador John Bolton.

"Once only likely after Iran actually tested a nuclear device or otherwise demonstrated unequivocally it possessed such devices, the arms race already has started," says Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, in a Monday opinion piece for The Pittsburgh Tribune Review.

The accord between Iran and the U.S.-lead coalition is far from being finalized, Bolton writes, and while President Barack Obama has been hinting that an agreement will trigger changes in Tehran that will turn it into a "normal" Middle Eastern state, no other nations in the region really believe that will happen.

"Obama has succeeded in creating a rare unity of analysis between Israel and almost the entire Arab world," Bolton said. And unless Iran's leadership and its Revolutionary Guards, who control the weapons program, change their philosophies, there is not a chance of a "new Middle East."

Further, it's "certain" Tehran will cheat on any deal that is signed, said Bolton, who has been calling for a strong response to be taken when it comes to Iran and its potential to build nuclear weapons.

Since there will probably be no changes in how Iran operates, the other countries in the Middle East realize that an Iran that is capable of building nuclear weapons "would not actually have to use the atomic trump card but merely threaten it to extort whatever it desired from its neighbors," Bolton warns in the article.

"Because the outcome of conflict between, say, Riyadh without nuclear weapons and Tehran with them is foreordained, regional actors see no option but going nuclear themselves," he writes.

That kind of logic was already clear before the "misguided negotiations" started with Iran two years ago, said Bolton, but now, other forces in the Middle East have likely started to work to acquire nuclear weapons.

"The Saudis likely already have options on a sizable number of existing nuclear warheads in Pakistan's substantial stockpile," he writes. "Moreover, the kingdom recently has ramped up its efforts to acquire nuclear technology that in due course will give it an indigenous nuclear infrastructure fully capable of sustaining a weapons program."

He also expects Egypt, Turkey, and other countries to do the same so they will not have to depend on outside suppliers.

That leaves Israel with a "strategic dilemma," the former ambassador said.

"Not only is Iran now virtually a nuclear-weapons state but relatively soon there could be half a dozen across the region," he said. "What Ariel Sharon feared as a 'nuclear holocaust' has twice led Israel to attack nuclear-weapons programs in hostile states. If Israel were to strike Iran in the near future, it has the possibility of thwarting not only Tehran's program but other nascent programs as well."

The United States must await Israel's decision, said Bolton, and nobody knows what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will do, but the United States "must make it clear that America will support Israel if it acts where we have defaulted."

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Negotiations with Iran and the perception of American weakness are accelerating the risk of a nuclear weapons race in the Middle East, not reducing it, says former ambassador John Bolton.
John Bolton, Obama, nuclear deal, Saudis, Israel
Monday, 13 April 2015 11:47 AM
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