Doubtless Iraq would have revived its nuclear weapons program by now, if Sadaam Hussein were still in charge there. So, we know one way to prevent such things from happening: military force. Are there any other ways? This question becomes increasingly urgent as North Korea and Iran continue to flout the will of the international community, which now is shuddering in fear that if the North Korean and Iranian programs are not stopped then numerous other countries will seek nuclear arms.
Well, maybe it’s time for us to enhance that fear. For example, a country like China would be more willing to put pressure on North Korea, if they see the United States discussing very publicly with South Korea, Australia, and/or Japan how to equip those countries with their own nuclear weapons. And if China still doesn’t do anything to stop North Korea, then a nuclear arms race in Asia is inevitable, so the United States ought to get out in front by making the arms race as orderly as possible. We can help South Korea and Australia to nuclearize in as safe and responsible way as possible, if they promise that the nuclearization will be reversible in the event that North Korea becomes declearized (e.g. within three years).
This model could also be applied to the Middle East. The United States could very publicly meet with defense officials in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, and Jordan to see how we can help them nuclearize, on condition that it will be reversible (within a fixed time period like three years) if Iran denuclearizes. Such action by the United States would potentially get the other members of the U.N. Security Council (like Russia and China) to take Iran nuclearization more seriously, and even if the U.N. rolls over and decides not to take any severe action against Iran then we might as well help our allies near Iran to respond appropriately to what Iran is doing.