By Christopher Hobbs;Matthew Moran
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Extra resources for Exploring Regional Responses to a Nuclear Iran: Nuclear Dominoes?
According to Avner Cohen, ‘a nuclear Iran would be the end of Israel’s nuclear monopoly in the region. ’41 In this scenario an Israeli posture of explicit nuclear deterrence would be adopted in order to strengthen the credibility of its nuclear deterrent and prevent attack from an overtly nuclear-armed Iran. Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at the possibility of such a change in Israeli nuclear posture in an interview in 2007, when, in commenting on the prospect of an Iranian bomb, he emphasized that ‘against lunatics, deterrence must be absolute, total.
Iran’s nuclear ambitions have placed further strain on relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran. 25 The balance of power in the Middle East is delicate and conventional logic dictates that Saudi Arabia would respond in kind to Iranian nuclearization to avoid a decisive shift in Iran’s favour. 26 The perception that Riyadh would follow Iran across the nuclear threshold has been largely fuelled by allegations and statements published in the media. 27 Then, in 2011, Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to Washington, was quoted as saying: ‘We cannot live in a situation where Iran has nuclear weapons and we don’t.
46 More than this, nuclear weapons have come to play an important symbolic role in terms of how states are perceived (and perceive themselves) on the international stage. In the mid-1980s, Robert Malcolmson drew attention to this symbolic role played by nuclear weapons and his words continue to hold resonance: ‘Nuclear weapons, in the contemporary world ... have now become important symbols: symbols of power, status and national prestige. They convey vital messages to others, messages that bespeak a special sort of domination and subordination ...