“The significance of this aspect becomes especially clear upon realising how much popular support the nuclear programme enjoys. Even if much of this popularity can be attributed to state propaganda, it can still be concluded with some certainty that Iran’s citizens stand behind the – ostensibly peaceful – nuclear programme. As a matter of fact, it is probably the only project for which the regime enjoys the support of broad segments of society……….. The so-called “right to uranium enrichment”, in other words, the right to utilise the full fuel cycle, has been elevated by Tehran propagandists to a matter of national honour. This right is not in fact documented in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but many nations, primarily those in the developing world, infer this entitlement from the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy. The problem is that uranium enrichment is the key technology that opens the gate to the production of weapons-grade fuel, i.e. to a nuclear weapons programme, and that fact alone can indeed be used by the Islamic Republic to support its claim to leadership in the region, even without producing a single nuclear weapon. A nuclear-arms-capable Iran would have to be accepted in the region as a de facto nuclear power and hence as the dominant regional power. This would have a number of consequences for the region’s nations. First of all, it would deal a severe blow to Saudi Arabia, which would then clearly fall behind in the leadership ranks. Furthermore, the small countries lining the Gulf would be forced to align their foreign and security policy to Iran’s “virtual” nuclear power, which would also prove detrimental to Saudi influence…………”
Interesting piece, but does not make a good case for why having the nuclear technical “know how” makes a country the leader of the region. Israel and Pakistan (and North Korea) have had actual nuclear weapons for years, and they are not regional leaders. Germany has no nuclear weapons There is no reason why shoring up the influence of the Saudi oligarchy should be a goal of the “international community”. Saudi regional influence is not through direct military prowess, but through money and the sway the kingdom holds over the West and its Gulf policies. Besides, there already is a “virtual” Western (mainly American) protective umbrella over the whole Gulf already, which is why I call it the Persian-American Gulf.