An Unsanctioned Iran Is Scary—Nukes or Not

This article was published in full with the National Interest.  

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Anwar El Sadat’s historic 1977 trip to Jerusalem changed the political dynamics in the Middle East. The current rapprochement between Washington and Tehran could have the same effect. A comprehensive deal between America and Iran would change the balance of power in the region.

Cynics of the nuclear negotiations insist that Iran is seeking a nuclear bomb, and the danger of that scenario is quite obvious. But the nuclear threat should not distract the international community from the very real, nonnuclear dangers posed by a resurgent Iran free of economic sanctions. Iran’s hegemonic ambitions in the region will grow if sanctions are lifted, strengthening the regime and the Iranian economy. The direct involvement of Tehran in illicit activities in the Arab world is a major source of mistrust between the strong Sunni ruling families of the Gulf and the Shia mullahs in Iran.

Iran’s regional ambitions make key U.S. allies—such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel—hesitant to embrace any rapprochement between Washington and Tehran.

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