If the Iranian dictatorship succeeds in “breaking out” and becoming a nuclear power, the following things will have happened:
1) International law and the stewardship of the United Nations will have been irretrievably ruined. The mullahs will have broken every solemn undertaking that they ever gave: to the International Atomic Energy Agency; to the European Union, which has been their main negotiating interlocutor up until now; and to the United Nations. (Tehran specifically rejects the right of the U.N. Security Council to have any say in this question.) Those who usually fetishize the role of the United Nations and of the international nuclear inspectors have a special responsibility to notice this appalling outcome.
2) The “Revolutionary Guards,” who last year shot and raped their way to near-absolute power in Iran, are also the guardians of the underground weapons program. A successful consummation of that program would be an immeasurable enhancement of the most aggressive faction of the current dictatorship.
3) The power of the guards to project violence outside Iran’s borders would likewise be increased. Any Hezbollah subversion of Lebanese democracy or missile attack on Israel; any Iranian collusion with the Taliban or with nihilist forces in Iraq would be harder to counter in that it would involve a confrontation with a nuclear godfather.