Iran's Pursuit of Nuclear Weapons more about Deterrence than Hegemony after U.S. Invasion of Iraq
[ Page 72 ]
Experts agree that, originally, Tehran wanted nuclear weapons for prestige and to obtain political deference within the region. Now, its strategic ambitions are shaped by the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and Iran seems motivated to acquire nuclear weapons primarily to deter a conventional American military intervention. After being stigmatised as part of the ’axis of evil’ and seeing their fellow axis-member Iraq invaded and occupied, Iran’s rulers may well have concluded that their country would be next. Government officials of another ‘axis of evil’ nation that has pursued a nuclear programme, North Korea, told a US congressional delegation in June 2003 that their country was building nuclear weapons to avoid the same fate as Saddam Hussein.
The primary motivation behind Iran's nuclear weapons program is its desire to defend itself from an attack. It is surrounded on all sides by enemies and has learned from the Iran-Iraq war that WMDs can be decisive in a conflict and from the U.S. invasion of Iraq that mere possesion of a nuclear weapon could deter similar efforts at regime change in Iran.