The greatest threat to the region in terms of nuclear armed nations is not the fact that too many nations have this capability, it is the fact that unstable nations may have, or obtain the capability. Some would argue that Iran is not necessarily considered unstable, but many nations in the region are.
A related factor is the concern of many analysts today as to the continually advancing state of instability in a country farther east, namely Pakistan, and though it does not share a border with Iran, it is close enough to be affected by events in that country.
Officials in our government charged with future plans concluded long ago that any semblance of stability in Pakistan may dissolve in the not too distant future. Such officials have been developing contingency plans for disintegration and civil war in Pakistan for years.
Predictions are that Pakistan may very well become a “failed state” descending into chaos, civil war, and rule by Islamic extremists before the end of this decade. A struggle for possession and control of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons in such an event, would inevitably occur.
If there is any validity to these predictions, Pakistan would become fractious, and the competing forces there would find themselves almost completely dependent on foreign aid and assistance. The one thing they would potentially have, to use as barter and as bargaining chips would be the coveted nuclear weapons.
Such a dire prediction is not difficult to make in light of the fact that Pakistan has suffered from decades of military, political and economic mismanagement, years of divisive politics, and rampant corruption. The people there, especially in the tribal areas, have experienced untenable levels of lawlessness, and constant ethnic friction.
Any proposed democrat reforms, though laudable will be too little too late and will produce little change in the face of entrenched political and military corruption. Too many folks in high places are making too much money from the status quo to allow such change.
The central government’s control will be steadily reduced to Karachi and parts of the Punjab heartland. The rest of the country will be controlled by the strong and in most cases that will mean Islamic extremist groups.
Control of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal under these circumstances is far from assured. The likelihood is that there will be no control and the end result may very well be, nuclear armed extremist groups.
India, in this instance will have to take a hardline against factions in their neighboring country to the west. This hardline will more than likely involve military intervention in which case America will have to become involved. A major conflict between India and large swaths of Pakistan will dwarf any other conflict in the region.
The likelihood is that many factions in Afghanistan will push for an alliance with India against their historic nemesis, Pakistan which will further exacerbate America’s role in the conflict. Pashtun leaders will likely demand a dissolution of the Durand Line, a move which will isolate and alienate Punjabis in Pakistan and Tajiks in Afghanistan. The Times of India has already predicted a “Yugoslavia-like fate for Pakistan, and a struggle for control of its nuclear weapons by 2015.”
Many in America see our possession of nuclear weapons and that of the other major nuclear powers in the world while we continue to thwart the nuclear ambitions of nations like Iran, as untenably imperialistic. While these concerns may be valid, America and its allies must consider the alternative, which is a nuclear armed world and a world in which nations must depend on the good will and logical thought process of the leaders of neighboring nations. This works in fewer and fewer locations around the world today.
Intelligence analysts make predictions by examining knowns, discarding impossibilities and ‘highly improbable scenarios’ and dealing with that which remains. In the case of Iran, the knowns are; in light of this agreement Iran is going to maintain a high level of enrichment capability, Iran’s religious leaders are committed to the annihilation of Israel and though the moderates in that country may disagree, Iran to date is not a democracy, and the fact that Iran will have, as a result of this agreement, much more financial capability.
A highly improbable scenario is that Iran will choose not to arm itself with nuclear weapons. Another ‘highly unlikely’ is that Iran’s religious leaders will somehow give up their power, or that they will somehow give up their commitment, since this is to them, a religious commitment, to Israel’s annihilation.
The only thing left is to consider likely responses by neighboring countries. A ramped-up pursuit of nuclear weapons by all those who have, or may procure the capability is the most likely, and the most objective projection based on that which is known today.
Though such predictions are dire, in and of themselves, including the highly likely potential in Pakistan, for rogue nations and extremist groups to obtain these devastating weapons, adds a ‘catastrophic’ level to the picture.
A relatively mild prediction in light of the potential agreement with Iran, is that the world will be a much more dangerous place. America is likely to awake in the near future to a severely ‘ill wind’ blowing out of the Southwest and by that time it will be very late in the game.
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