I believe that, if the primary question regarding the role of alliance building as an influence to the permissibility of Iran's development of
nuclear weapons, we need to take a look at a number of issues that may reflect on the viability of that argument.
Russian sentiment towards Islam
Although Iran is declared a Republic, it is, in fact, a theocracy, with the Supreme Leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, appointed for life as the
"Divine President". This calls into question Russia's current and prior relationships with Islamic countries, as to whether such an alliance is
likely. However, we can see that, from the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, to the brutal crackdown in Chechnya, to the current persecution of Muslims
and Salafists in Tatarstan (Source
,) the Soviets and Russia have a long history of animosity towards
Islam, particularly emerging Islamic politicization.
Benefits of an Iranian/Russian alliance
Although the two are nominally allies already, there is little benefit to Russia in having Iran a closely held ally. The predominant resource of that
country, oil, is more in need by China than Russia, and there is already resource conflict between the two nations, as regards the Caspian Sea
.) Iran and Russia do, of course, have a shared distrust of Turkey, but it seems highly
unlikely that Russia would see nuclear weapons in the hands of the Iranians as being particularly useful in the containment of the Turks.
The close economic ties between Russia, China, the United States and European Union push those four groups in each other's direction, rather than
encouraging them to be pulled apart over matters such as this -- in other words, even with the oil resources of Iran in the mix, it is more
advantageous for China and Russia to eventually side with the west on denying Iran nuclear capabilities.
Previous Western experience in similar instances
Both the United States and the west, in general, have seen numerous instances where arming (or merely turning the other way while arms were being
built up,) pseudo allies has backfired in the past. One need only point to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, built out of the Mujahidin, for a
classic example of this error, but others exist, in El Savadore, Columbia, Indonesia, Cambodia, and other conflicts, where the side the west supported
turned out to be every bit as bad (or worse) than those in opposition.
I think it rather likely that current American operations within Pakistan (primarily through drone strikes) are as much about keeping the Islamic
insurgents of northwest Pakistan from getting a toehold in a country that has exploitable nuclear weapons as they are about keeping them out of
Afghanistan. Will that eventually backfire? Time will tell.
Potential risk of Iranian building nuclear weapons
As I noted in my previous post, the risks associated with ANY nation building nuclear arms are significant -- whether accidental use, terrorist
access, an unbalancing of regional powers, the prompting of other nations to build them, or many other risks. Meanwhile, the benefits, particularly to
a nation in the position of Iran, are very slim, primarily among them the prestige of "joining the nuclear table" and having some weight to throw
around. It seems highly unlikely that any nation would view that as a good thing, for them.
In short, it seems unlikely that it is in the best interests of anyone to permit Iran to develop nuclear weapons, in order to prevent them from
developing a closer relationship to Russia, China or any other ally.
As for both North Korea and India getting what is presented as a "free pass" on the subject, that is most definitely not the case. North Korea, for
example, was under economic sanctions from the international community since the 1990s, in an effort to stop their nuclear program. That said
sanctions failed to achieve the desired result does not bode well for continued reliance on them in the face of Iranian nuclear research. In 1998, in
an effort to "stand down" Indian/Pakistani nuclear conflict, the United State again imposed sanctions on India (later dropped.)
Finally, the international community has a vested interest in the promotion of security within the international community, so it is not an
overstepping of power for said community to require reasonable behaviour (including the honouring of signed international treaties) by all nations.
While nuclear weapon research is an internal state matter, the ramifications of its conclusion are not.