Ray Takeyh, of the US Council on Foreign Relations and an unfortunately influential part of the US foreign policy establishment seeks to answer the question "why Iran remains defiant on the nuclear bomb". Iran does not remain defiant on the nuclear bomb. Iran has said completely consistently at all levels of its policy apparatus that it intends to gain the types of technologies that countries like Japan have and that it does not need to build a weapon once it is there.
Nobody has ever shown a strategic reason why Iran would not remain in the NPT and verifiably weapons-free once it attains legal nuclear weapons capability. Taking the extra step to a weapon would only make strategic sense if the US or Israel did something stupid and unexpected like attacked Tehran or staged troops for an invasion.
The same level of provocation that would bring leaving the NPT into consideration for Japan would be required for actually building a weapon to make sense for Iran. If the US and Israel do not intend to launch a provocation of that sort, there is no reason for Iran to leave the NPT, or visibly break the seals on its fissile material and make a weapon.
Takeyh knows this. More important than his why is Iran defiant question is the question why do Ray Takeyh and the rest of the US nuclear policy establishment deliberately lie regarding Iran, by describing capabilities that are legal and acceptable in non-nuclear weapons countries such as Japan, Canada, Brazil and many others, as "the nuclear bomb" in the case of Iran.
The answer to that question is that Israel perceives that it needs all of its neighbors to not only lack nuclear weapons, but also to lack the legal nuclear weapons capabilities that are allowed to all countries explicitly without discrimination under the NPT. The United States, today under Barack Obama, earlier under George W. Bush dutifully is exerting extraordinary efforts to deny the over 80 million people of Iran legal technology so that fewer than six million Jewish people in Palestine have less fear of being pressured into abandoning Zionism the way White South Africans were in the 1980s and 1990s successfully pressured into abandoning their enforced White political majority state.
So Takeyh is lying for Israel. Bill Clinton said he would jump into a ditch with a rifle to sacrifice his life for Israel. All Takeyh is doing is being dishonest. If you ask Takeyh does Japan have "the nuclear bomb", Takeyh will, obviously, say no. If you ask Takeyh would Iran have "the nuclear bomb" if it had the exact same nuclear program Japan has, after some dodging and squirming, he'll eventually say yes. He's redefined "the nuclear bomb" in the case of Iran to mislead his audience.
It is not, by now, particularly interesting, but that is what's happening. With that said, let's look at some of the text of his Washington Post op-ed piece.
Instead of conceding to intrusive U.N. resolutions or amending their behavior on issues of terrorism and regional subversion, Iran’s rulers sense that once they obtain the bomb, they can return to the international fold on their own terms."Terrorism and regional subversion". There are 22 states in the Arab league. Two of those states have some degree of public accountability over their foreign policy - Iraq and Lebanon, both states that often either vote with Iran on international questions or abstain. The rest, other than Syria, are more accountable to their US embassies and local US military headquarters than they are to any constituency of their people. Most of the region that Takeyh claims Iran wants to "subvert" consists of governments closer to the Shah's Iran than even to today's Lebanon which is more or less democratic despite denying proportional political power to Shiites.
Iran is a threat to US colonies of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE, Kuwait and others if nothing else by its own example of no longer being a US colony. This is what Takeyh is describing as "regional subversion". There is a string of colonies that the US maintains without which Israel would not be viable as an enforced Jewish political majority state. Takeyh worries that if Iran develops legal nuclear weapons capabilities, it will threaten this string of colonies held by Takeyh's government.
By terrorism, Takeyh means Hamas and Hezbollah. Any government in the region that is accountable to its people will support organizations like those, because by the local values of the region, those are the good guys. Those are groups that are opposing among other things, the oppression of the Palestinians. Takeyh disagrees, and Takeyh wants the governments of the region to be accountable to people with his views rather than to people with local views.
This is the connection between legal nuclear weapons capabilities and democracy. Takeyh is concerned that if Iran attains legal nuclear weapons capabilities, the United States will be less able to impose anti-democratic policies on the people of Iran and elsewhere in Israel's region.
A clerical leadership whose sense of confidence is shadowed by its imagined fears sees the bomb as a means of ameliorating its vulnerabilities while escaping its predicament on the cheap.The predicament that Takeyh fears Iran may be able to escape is that it is no longer effectively a US colony the way it was in 1975 and the way many of its neighbors are today. The local values of Tehran determine Iran's policy with respect to foreign affairs rather than the local values of New York, Florida and Washington DC as was previously the case in Iran and is now the case, for example, in today's Egypt.
Takeyh, if you read between the lines, is clear that the issue with Iran is not nuclear proliferation, but the US gaining and maintaining the ability to impose anti-democratic policies on the people of Iran. This desire to subjugate the people of Israel's region in this way is present throughout the US and Western political spectrums, from the liberal imperialists like Barack Obama and Jon Stewart to conservative imperialists like Newt Gingrich and John Bolton.