3.24.2010

A little geopolitics for your evening

Let's mull the implications of an Iranian bomb:
A nuclear Iran, however, could exert significant pressure on Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, in particular on their energy policy and strategic alignment. The lesson from the August 2008 war in Georgia is crystal clear – NATO umbrella does extend past the Black Sea and Partnership for Peace status is not a defense guarantee. It is a message that the leadership in Iran has picked up. There are also no significant bilateral agreements and security guarantees in place as in the case of the Gulf countries.
...
The risks of a nuclear Iran are not just direct, but also indirect – like nuclear proliferation in the Caspian region. Nuclear terrorism can link up with the region’s already notorious smuggling networks, exposing not only the Caspian, but also increasing the threat of nuclear terrorism in Europe.
I think the issue of nuclear terrorism -- say, the Iranian secret services selling a bomb to some jihadist group -- is pretty unlikely. Iran knows that nukes leave fingerprints, and they'd be held accountable (on the other hand, the chances of the Pakistani ISI doing just that are far more credible). But the effect on Caspian-basin energy reserves could be very significant, and a nuke could put Iran in a position similar to Russia -- able to redirect major supplies of oil and natural gas away from the West when it doesn't get its way in international policy. That's a real problem.