Before addressing history, it should be pointed out that the Obama agreement (it is not a treaty) provides Iran with the expertise, systems, and unimpeded bridge to nuclear weapons within about twelve years. Iran can abide by the agreement and still become a power with nuclear weapons. Mr. Obama is gambling that Iran will instead become a responsible nation amenable to international rules of the road and decide not to acquire nuclear weapons.
In terms of historical precedents, are there examples of an entrenched theocratic regime voluntarily ceasing its four-decade pursuit of geopolitical hegemony over its neighbors? No. All right, then let’s substitute ideological regimes, like Germany, Italy, and Russia in the 1930s? Again, no—but the fascists were destroyed by military power, while the USSR collapsed when the regime was unable to economically sustain its ideology.
In the case of Iran, the Obama agreement has lifted international economic sanctions. Plus, in the Soviet case, Russian occupation of a dozen other countries led to uprisings first beyond its borders—uprisings encouraged by the Pope and by President Reagan. So there were moral/religious/ideological pressures sustained against the Soviet system for decades. This is not the case in Iran.
If not external pressures, then what of internal upheaval? Mr. Obama said nothing when the Green Revolution seven years ago was swiftly repressed. From the outside, we cannot predict another popular movement, but there are no signals that the population will try again.
What of a conversion, like that of St. Paul on the road to Damascus? Perhaps the mullahs will change character. While anything is possible, that’s not the way to bet about human nature. Yet conversion by divine intervention is the Obama plan. That is, economic sanctions have been lifted, moral suasion and pressures have been foregone, America’s top diplomat is asking for Iranian assistance in Mesopotamia, Hezbollah is growing stronger in Lebanon, the Quds Force is entrenched in Iraq—and Mr. Obama expects Iran not to develop nuclear weapons.
On balance, the odds are 80% that within a dozen years Iran will possess nuclear weapons under the same guise as does Israel. Yes, they are nuclear powers and no, they do not say so publicly.