Fox News on July 14, 2015, reported that the newly announced Iran nuclear deal and the negotiations leading up to it already are fueling an all-but-declared nuclear arms race in the Middle East, according to current and former government officials who say the situation also creates an opening for Russia to exert more influence in the region. Excerpts below:

“We have given Iran the path it has been seeking for almost 35 years. The other states in the region are not going to sit idly by, which is why in effect the nuclear arms race is already underway,” former U.N. Ambassador and Fox News contributor John Bolton said.

In the last six months, Russia has struck three significant nuclear deals with long-time U.S. Middle East allies, effectively capitalizing on regional distrust of Iran.

“Every Sunni Arab nation is going to see [a nuclear Iran] as an inevitable outcome,” Republican presidential candidate and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said. “The worst possible outcome of the deal would be to create a nuclear arms race in the Mideast where Sunni Arabs feel threatened.”

Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, of Nebraska, said in a statement, “Sadly, the Administration just lit the fuse for a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. We all know Iran’s neighbors will not sit idly as the world’s largest state-sponsor of terror becomes a nuclear-threshold state.”

A seasoned intelligence official who recently returned from the region said private discussions revealed that allies, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, felt abandoned by the U.S. as the administration seemed to put securing a deal with Tehran ahead of the long-time alliances.

Putin, who analysts say stands to gain the most from a newly empowered Iran, hailed the deal as a tremendous accomplishment, and said in a statement, “We expect that all the parties concerned, primarily the six states involved in the negotiations, will comply with the deal in full. … Our bilateral relations with Iran will receive a new impetus and will no longer be influenced by external factors.”

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C.

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