CH said: This would make it even less likely that the NPT commitment to global nuclear disarmament is ever going to be achieved.
Look, as long as countries are competing for power, global nuclear disarmament is never going to happen. Ever. You cannot uninvent things, especially since every GCSE physics student knows the principle of how to build a nuclear weapon. I can't believe that anyone these days could possibly think that global nuclear disarmament is ever going to happen. Heard from the CND recently? No, I've not either.
As for Iran and the NPT, there is a useful summary here.CH said: (and please don't forget that this means that they are actually unlikely to use such weapons pre-emptively since they know that their own country, and power, would be destroyed in response).
As you know, I don't necessarily subscribe to this view. I think that the West, even Israel (under pressure from the US, as when Saddam launched 39 Scuds at them during GW1), would still be wary of using nuclear weapons. Conventional invasion? Yes. Nuclear weapons, with the vapourisation of millions of civilians? No.
The problem with Iran is that it doesn't recognise anyone in Israel (their most likely target) as a civilian (since Israelis have to do National Service, they are all soliders or potential soldiers).
Imagine the situation in which Iran has shown itself willing to use nuclear weapons [by attacking Israel], but the West (still possessing some scruples) is reluctant to use them in retaliation, can we even see a conventional invasion going ahead? It's a tricky one. Given this situation, what would you do? Try negotiations? Attempt an invasion and risk your forces getting nuked? It's an interesting moral and tactical dilemma, worth considering as an intellectual problem by itself.
And I wouldn't bet that the US tacticians haven't already considered it...
So here is the challenge: imagine that this situation has indeed come to pass. What would you do?
Answers in the comments, please.