Latent nuclear capability could make Iran more aggressive
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Iran might become more aggressive with a latent capability. As David Petraeus and Vance Serchuk have written, a comprehensive nuclear deal would lift economic sanctions on Iran, providing a financial boost to the world’s largest state sponsor of terror and providing it with more resources to project malign if—as many sanctions experts believe is inevitable— international support for sanctions eventually gives way to economic incentives to do business with Iran. The lifting or loosening of sanctions on Iran would result in an economic windfall that Tehran could use to step up support for terrorist and proxy attacks in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, the Palestinian territories, the Arabian peninsula, and around the world. Although it is possible that a latent nuclear Iran might feel more secure and self-confident, Iran is a revisionist power with ambitious geopolitical goals. This means it is more likely that a latent nuclear capability might embolden Iran to more aggressively pursue its objective of becoming the most dominant state in the region. One might assume that this risk could be less severe as long as Rouhani is in power, but even under Rouhani, Iran has continued to aggressively support violent proxies throughout the region.