Fred Kaplan rebuts those claiming a nuclear Iran will lead to greater stability in the Middle East:

If the Iranians do manage to build some A-bombs, it's not at all certainin fact, it's probably unlikelythat they will institute [the] same elaborate control devices [as other nuclear powers]. Especially given the schisms within the regime, we don't know who will haveor grabthe power to use them. (If it's the Revolutionary Guard, that's bad news.)

And if an Iranian bomb incites other powers in the region to build their own bombs for deterrence, that may "stabilize" tensionsby giving everyone a "deterrent"though, more likely, it will make things worse. The other regimes probably won't have control devices, either, at least not at first. There's also the geographic factor: These countries are very close to one another; a nuclear-armed missile's flight time, from launcher to target, is a few minutes. In the event of a crisis, one nation's leader might launch a first strike to pre-empt an anticipated first strike by some other nation's leader. (If U.S. and Russian borders were only 100 miles apart, it's doubtful we could have survived the Cold War without a "nuclear exchange." This is one reason, by the way, that Soviet missiles in Cuba, and U.S. missiles in Turkey, were viewed with such alarm.)

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.