Engel: 'Very Possible' Iran Nuclear Deal Sets off Arms Race in Middle East, U.S. is 'Taking a Gamble'

July 14, 2015

NBC foreign correspondent Richard Engel reported there was anger across the Arab world at the nuclear deal struck between Iran and world powers Tuesday morning, and that it was "very possible" that the accord would set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

"In many capitals in the Arab world, there is deep distrust with this agreement," Engel said. "Basically the Arab world and Israel both do not think that Iran will abide by the deal, that it will cheat and that this agreement will give Iran more money, more power, more political clout to continue its policies in the Middle East that are causing a lot of instability right now in Syria, in Yemen, in Lebanon."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his strong opposition by stating that the billions of dollars in sanctions relief Iran will receive will be used to "fuel the terror machine" and it now has a "safe path to nuclear weapons."

Morning Joe panelist Mike Barnicle asked Engel what his sense was that this deal could set off a "new and really volatile MidEast arms race."

"It is very possible," Engel said. "In one sense, you have to look at this as a gamble. The U.S. is taking a gamble, and for the U.S. there is relatively low risk ... For the region right now, this is not like Cuba. This is not like Myanmar. There are active conflicts underway right now, in which Iran is a major party to those conflicts, so there is a possibility that this agreement could just be adding more fuel to the sectarian fire ... An arms race is possible, and a worsening of the active regional conflicts in the region is also possible."