WORLD ROUNDUPThe Day After Iran Gets the Bomb | Putin is Plotting “Physical Attacks” on the West | Could Ghana Be Jihadists’ Next Target?, and more

Published 14 May 2024

·  The Day After Iran Gets the Bomb
Scholars and policymakers are still trying to understand what would happen after Tehran acquires a nuclear weapon

·  U.S. Threats Led to Rupture of Vital Military Ties, Nigerien Leader Says
In an exclusive interview, Prime Minister Zeine blamed the U.S. for the breakdown in bilateral relations, culminating with the planned ouster of American troop

·  Putin is Plotting “Physical Attacks” on the West, Says GCHQ Chief

British intelligence ‘increasingly concerned’ over growing links between Russia and cyber hacks

·  Secret Papers Reveal Hamas Plan to Set Up Base in Turkey
Israel claims that a document proposing to ‘establish a security branch abroad’ was discovered at the home of the chief of staff to Hamas’s leader in Gaza

·  Could Ghana Be Jihadists’ Next Target?
Long seen as an island of stability, the country shares many of the same vulnerabilities that militants have exploited across the Sahel region

The Day After Iran Gets the Bomb  (Stephen M. Walt, Foreign Policy)
In 201, the Obama administration negotiated an agreement that rolled back Iran’s enrichment capacity significantly, reduced its stockpile of nuclear material, and expanded monitoring of Iran’s remaining nuclear activities. In a stunning strategic blunder, Trump abandoned the deal in 2018. The result? Iran began enriching uranium to even higher levels and is now closer to having a bomb than ever before.
Will Iran ever acquire nuclear weapons? What would happen if it did? The answer to the first question seems increasingly to be yes. The second question, however, is as unclear as ever.
Here’s what bothers me. If the current level of animosity persists, it’s hard to believe that Iran won’t eventually decide that it needs a nuclear deterrent of its own, and what would happen then is anyone’s guess. It might spark another Middle East war, which is the last thing anyone needs. If Iran succeeded in building its own bomb, it could lead states like Saudi Arabia or Turkey to follow suit.
But guess what? The acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran might also reveal that Kenneth Waltz was right all along. In his last published article, he argued that the most straightforward way to stabilize the region would be for Iran to acquire a nuclear deterrent of its own. He argued that possession of a nuclear arsenal would reduce Iran’s security fears, give it less reason to make trouble for others, and force its regional rivals to refrain from using force against it in ways that might inadvertently lead to a nuclear exchange.
If Waltz is right, then a rough nuclear balance in the Middle East would finally induce these perpetually quarreling states to temper their animosity and opt for peaceful coexistence. If I’m completely honest, however, this is one of those social science experiments I’d rather not run.