What is Tehran’s perspective on nuclear deterrence? Iran generally believes that liberal democracies with their humanitarian sensibilities are not very serious about nuclear deterrence. One exception is the United States under Republican administrations since Republican presidents are generally perceived as “mean” and “dangerous”. However, Iran does not believe that there is any risk in attacking France or Britain with chemical weapons as Tehran does not believe that either nation will respond with nuclear weapons.
Iran believes that Israel (“the Small Satan”) is an American puppet and holds America (“the Great Satan”) responsible for Israel’s actions. However, Iran does not believe that a Democratic president “will allow” Israel to respond with nuclear weapons against Iran for Hezbollah chemical weapons attacks against Israel.
What is the truth? Will America try to prevent Israel from using nuclear weapons against Iran? Would France and the UK use nuclear weapons against Iran? There is probably much truth in the Iranian assumptions. Also, If the Iranian regime can be brought down with a no-fly zone and air support for armed rebellions throughout Iran, there might be no need for Israeli nuclear retaliation against Iran’s clerical capital of Qom.
What does Iran think of the concept of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction)? Iran generally does not believe in MAD and thinks some Israeli nuclear retaliation would be worth the price to achieve the “annihilation of Israel”. Iran believes in having missiles with nuclear warheads to frighten nations that believe in nuclear deterrence but would in contrast use nuclear weapons anonymously in terrorist attacks against Israel and other targets. Iran does not think that anyone would dare retaliate with nuclear weapons if Iran has missiles ready with nuclear warheads.
It is essential to understand that Iran is highly sophisticated and has a unique perspective on matters of nuclear deterrence, something which in practice would make MAD ineffective with Iran.