Why Obama would agree to such a flawed deal is an important question. There is ample evidence that the president is more interested in the domestic political impacts of this issue than anything else. In this calculation, what’s a nuclear arms race in the Middle East when the GOP and Fox News can be shamed and given their comeuppance?
That there will now be such an atomic arms race seems certain. Several key U.S. allies, above all Saudi Arabia, have been watching the P5+1 talks with fear and interest. If Iran is allowed to resume its nuclear program, in any guise, we would naïve not to expect Riyadh, which lives in mortal fear of the mullahs, to respond in kind, soon. Turkey may not be far behind, and several other stakeholders in the region will investigate their own nuclear options, without delay.
For decades, bipartisan U.S. policy in the Middle East has sought to avoid a nuclear arms race there. Obama’s announcement has ended that, as all in the region understand. Nobody takes his assurances seriously, after years of rhetoric-as-action, and Obama’s signature accomplishment in the Middle East may be uniting it, at last – in fear of the United States and its empty promises.