Anticipating a Nuclear Iran


The Black Swan of the Arab Spring in 2011 whose effects are still unfolding coupled with the Gray Swan of an abrupt entry of Iran as a nuclear power will create a very fluid situation for the Middle East in 2012.

Preparing to constrain, contain and attack anticipated Iranian actions outside of Iran — empowered by becoming a nuclear power — will fuel many activities of the Arab states and Israel.

And their activity interacting with the efforts of Iran to complete the nuclear weapons process and to shape a proactive foreign policy accordingly will shape a very explosive security situation in the Middle East.

According to several Middle Eastern actors interviewed for this Strategic Inflection Points Report, the states who could set the Iranian effort back on nuclear weapons are not likely to do so.  Therefore, major actors in the region on moving forward to provide for their own security and ability to constrain Iranian activism.

The result will be a significant shift to conventional and counter-terrorism containment of Iran in the region, and preparing a stronger capability for existential deterrence against Iran when it has nuclear weapons.

2012 will see a clear effort by players in the region to augment these capabilities – both for containment and existential deterrence.

At the heart of the response is the underlying tension between Sunnis and Shi’ites.  The Saudis and other Sunni societies are not looking at the prospects of a nuclear-armed Shi’ite power with favor.  As a result, the Sunni powers are shaping a response to such a prospect, and the response is becoming a fact even before the reality.

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"If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn’t thinking."

—General George Patton Jr.

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