Iran is trying to become the indispensable power in the region,1 but has not been able to translate its geopolitical assets — from being at crossroads between the Caspian, the Gulf, the Arab world and the subcontinent2 — into political advantages leading to regional hegemony. The Iranian nuclear program unites most countries in the region and beyond, who share a common interest in regional security and stability.3 Consequently, this causes a partial isolation of Iran.4 However, nuclear power would demonstrate Iran as a regional power,5 but will empower her far less than potentially expected, as nuclear weapons can only accomplish a limited set of objectives and could trigger an Israeli preventive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.6 Moreover, countries such as Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia would seek to access nuclear weapons too,7 making this approach only a short- to mid-term solution. In addition, Iran would suffer from tougher sanctions, which she could try to counterbalance by deepening its economic, diplomatic and military ties with China and Russia, which could prove very helpful given their veto power at the United Nations Security Council. Iran could also continue to engage into deeper economic and diplomatic ties with Turkey, given the country’s desire to become an energy corridor, thus ensuring close ties with a strong NATO allies currently reluctant to support U.S. sanctions against Iran. Moreover, Iran may find a potential ally in Syria, which is seeking to regain international stature (as evidenced by the recent reappointment of a U.S. ambassador to Damascus). Such a strategy may enable Iran to deliver economically, thus ensuring the legitimacy of the regime, while affirming its rise as a regional power. However, economic diversification may prove difficult as already unsuccessfully attempted in the past.

1. Chubin S. “Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions” Carnegie Endowment, Washington DC, 2006, P.16
2. Ibid
3. Ibid
4. Byman, D, Iran’s Security Policy in the Post Revolutionary Era, Rand Corp., Santa Monica, 2001, p.8
5. (Chubin, 2006, p.113)
6. James M. Lindsay, Ray Takeyh “After Iran Gets the Bomb” Foreign Affairs, March/April 2010, p.36-38
7. (James M. Lindsay and Ray Takeyh, 2010, p.38)

Photo attributed to: United States Department of State

Written by Linda Bouzembrak