In the hands of an adversary, an Islamic bomb is concrete evidence that Iran’s strategy of “resistance” to the West is a winning one. And this will change the region’s political culture from radical to many times more radical.
At best, this means that even those U.S.-friendly regimes that have much to fear from “resistance” will have no choice but to raise the pitch of their anti-American rhetoric to stay in step with their rivals—and their populations. Consequently, the basing rights that we have throughout the Gulf states are likely to be terminated.
At worst, an Iranian bomb sends a message to the more ambitious actors in the region that they should feel free to make a run at the Americans. If Tehran showed it is less profitable to play nicely with Washington than it is to extort the Americans and kill their soldiers (as Iran did in Iraq and Afghanistan) and allies (as Iran did in Lebanon and Israel), why shouldn’t they do the same? We will not be deterring Iran but inviting the rest of the region to shoot at us.