Regional Arms Race

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said a nuclear-armed Iran would not only destabilize the Middle East, but it could lead to a “regional arms race.” Speaking before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense panel on June 11, Dempsey emphasized that the intelligence community has not yet determined if Iran intends to build a nuclear weapon. “Well, this is playing out in the context of a broader Sunni-Shia conflict in the region that certainly stretches visibly from Beirut to Damascus to Baghdad,” said Dempsey. “And, Iran is very active in fomenting the violence on the Shia side of that equation. If they were to acquire a nuclear weapon, it is certainly conceivable that someone on the Sunni side of the ledger would feel obligated to do the same, and then we’re off to what could potentially be a regional arms race.” The Washington Post reported on June 12 that Iran is coming out as the big winner in Syria, another potential game changer in the region. “This is an Iranian fight. It is no longer a Syrian one,” Mustafa Alani, director of security and defense research programs at the Dubai-based Gulf Research Council, told the newspaper. President Barack Obama was expected to meet with top national security advisors on Wednesday to reassess the US’ role in the Syrian civil war.