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Israel and Iran Move Toward 'Nuclear Opacity'

With no breakthrough in negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, the Middle East could see power plays between Israel and Iran as undeclared nuclear powers.
Iran's Chief negotiator Saeed Jalili (R) and European Union Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton stand for a photograph before talks in Almaty April 5, 2013. World powers will urge Iran on Friday to accept their offer to ease some economic sanctions if it stops its most sensitive nuclear work, in talks aimed at easing tensions that threaten to boil over into war. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov (KAZAKHSTAN - Tags: POLITICS) - RTXY95M

With no breakthrough expected in the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, a new scenario is beginning to loom: one of extended nuclear opacity in the Middle East. There is, indeed, a rising likelihood that in coming years the Middle East will become the scene of power plays between countries — i.e., Iran and Israel — holding nuclear arsenals without declaring their possession.

While admittedly no unequivocal evidence shows that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, there are circumstantial reasons to believe that it is acquiring the energy supplies, technologies and scientific knowledge to build a nuclear deterrent. In an annual threat assessment, delivered 12 March to the US Senate, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper emphasized, “We do not know if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.” Noting that Tehran “has developed technical expertise in a number of areas,” he added, “This makes the central issue its political will to do so.” This is why it is worth examining the delicate scenario of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and choosing not to formally cross the Rubicon. In fact, statements from Iranian officials sometimes echo those of another country that several decades ago embarked on the path of nuclear opacity — Israel.

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