George Shultz, former U.S. Secretary of State, once said, “Proliferation begets proliferation.” The possession of nuclear weapons or nuclear capability by a rival state is a constant stimulus to other states to acquire them. It is often argued that possession of a nuclear capability by Iran would lead to a nuclear cascade in the region. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey are likely to acquire nuclear technology if Iran is allowed to have sensitive nuclear technology – enrichment and reprocessing technology. This argument overlooks the international and domestic factors that point to the fact that the nuclear domino rarely falls.
Israel’s acquisition of nuclear weapons failed to bring about a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and Iran’s nuclear capability is also unlikely to have a domino effect in the region. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey are often cited as likely to proliferate, but all of them either lack domestic capability or are bound by international factors that prevent them from acquiring nuclear capability.
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