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Critical Nuclear Choices for the Next Administration

Critical Nuclear Choices for the Next Administration

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The nuclear threats that the United States faces today are very different from the threats faced during the Cold War. The way in which the next administration chooses to address these threats will have serious implications for U.S. national security.

This perspective paper takes an in-depth look at the critical nuclear choices facing the next administration, from preventing a nuclear Iran to developing a more effective U.S. nuclear force.

These threats affect all of us. The next administration will have to put aside partisan rhetoric and work with both sides of the aisle to develop strategic solutions to these critical nuclear threats.
The nuclear threats that the United States faces today are very different from the threats faced during the Cold War. The way in which the next administration chooses to address these threats will have serious implications for U.S. national security.

This perspective paper takes an in-depth look at the critical nuclear choices facing the next administration, from preventing a nuclear Iran to developing a more effective U.S. nuclear force.

These threats affect all of us. The next administration will have to put aside partisan rhetoric and work with both sides of the aisle to develop strategic solutions to these critical nuclear threats.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: The American Security Project on Oct 02, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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www.AmericanSecurityProject.org1100 New York Avenue, NW Suite 710W Washington, DC
Critical Nuclear Choicesor the Next Administration
October 2012
Idi
Nuclear threats did not end with the Cold War. oday’s nuclear threats come in all shapesand sizes – rom new nuclear states like North Korea, to missile deense and Russia, to theoutdated, expensive U.S. arsenal.Te next administration will ace many choices on nuclear security issues. Its decisions willhave serious implications, not just or the uture o the U.S. nuclear arsenal, but or U.S.national security.Tis report analyzes some o the critical choices that the next president will ace, outlinesthe policy options, and argues or solutions based on clear, strategic thinking, rather thanpartisan politics.Te next our years will not be easy. Fortunately, there are solutions to these dicult questions;the key is orging bipartisan support.oday’s nuclear risks aect all o us. Te next administration will have to put aside politicalrhetoric and work to develop policies that eectively address these critical nuclear threats.
Contents
Preventing a Nuclear IranNorth Korea – Isolation or Engagement?Missile Deense and Russia Redefning a Partnership with PakistanTe U.S. Nuclear Deterrent 
 
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 AmerIcAn securIty project
Preventing a Nuclear Iran
Tis administration is hardly the rst to ask how to deal with the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program, butthe stakes are arguably higher now than ever beore. Te next administration will not nd an easy answer tothis question.Some policymakers and pundits imply that the president has only two options on Iran: preventive military action or capitulation - allowing Iran to go nuclear. Tis is a dangerous oversimplication.In act, the president has a wide range o options on Iran: multilateral and bilateral talks; using sanctions asleverage; engaging NAO and regional allies; broadening the scope o nuclear talks; and as a last resort, a military strike on Iran’s nuclear acilities. All o these options can be employed by the United States and ourinternational partners using a nuanced Iran policy.
Iran: the State o Play 
Te latest report rom the International Atomic Energy Agency highlights seriousconcerns about Irans nuclear program and lack o cooperation on inspections. Tereport notes that Iran continues to produce 20% enriched uranium (although itsstockpile has actually diminished) and continues to install centriuges at enrichmentacilities (although it continues to struggle with advanced centriuge technology).
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Iran’s reusal to address international concerns regarding its past and currentnuclear program is concerning. But the more crucial question with regards to U.S.policy is o Iran’s intentions. On this question, the U.S. intelligence assessment isclear and consistent: Iran has not yet decided to build a nuclear weapon.
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Sanctions and Negotiations
Economic sanctions against Iran are beginning to bite. Iran is losing about $5 billion per month due to theoil embargo, and the infation rate has risen above 20 percent.
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A new round o sanctions went into eect thissummer, and Congress is considering a ollow-up round o penalties intended to keep the pressure up.Sanctions likely played a big role in Irans decision to resume negotiations with the P5+1 without preconditions.In April 2012 Iran and the P5+1 (the U.S., Russia, China, Germany, France, and the U.K.) resumed negotiationsater a hiatus o more than one year. In addition to these high-level political meetings and technical talksbetween Iran and the EU, the IAEA and Iran met several times in 2012. While negotiations have not yet led to an agreement on Irans nuclear program, both sides have indicated thatan agreement is still possible. Many experts agree, and have sketched out what a deal might look like. FormerIranian negotiator Houssein Mousavian, or example, argues that a phased approach would be agreeable toboth sides.
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Others have noted that agreeing to initial condence-building measures, such as Iran’s halting 20%uranium enrichment and the West liting some economic sanctions, could open the door to a comprehensivedeal.
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 A Nuanced Iran Policy 
Te debate on Iran policy is oten muddied by unclear analysis and political rhetoric. Tose who call orabandoning talks and taking military action oten understate the risks. Tose who would take military actiono the table sometimes overstate the surety o diplomacy.Cutting through the rhetoric, the rst point that the next administration must recognize in addressing theIran nuclear challenge is that all options should be on the table, including military orce. We should be underno illusions regarding eort and the costs o military action. It will be dicult, it will take time, but in theend we will succeed. ehran should understand that the U.S. can and will take the military option i required.Tat being said, at this stage, military action would be unwise andpotentially detrimental to our strategic aims. While no action should betaken o the table, ending negotiations prematurely and walking into a military confict with Iran blindly would be a mistake. Understanding the ull implications, including costs, lives, regional leverage, and theability to achieve our real goals, is crucial to developing an eectivepolicy towards Iran.Clearly, there is still time to resolve the nuclear stando by non-militarmeans. Sanctions are taking a toll on Irans economy. As the internationalconsensus builds, Iran is increasingly isolated. Irans leaders have not yetdecided to pursue a nuclear weapons program; the building pressurerom the international community may convince them to come cleanabout their past nuclear work and current program.Building the international consensus, thereore, is key to resolving the Iran nuclear crisis. Te nextadministration must continue to lead and work within international rameworks to show the Iranian leadersand people that deciding on acquiring a nuclear weapon will have huge risk or Iran, and will not be toleratedby the international community.O course, negotiations will not be easy, and they will take time. Tere will be steps back as well as stepsorward; but the international ramework represents the most ecient and eective way to achieve ourultimate goal: a non-military solution to the Iran nuclear stando.
Conclusion
For the next administration, the policy most likely to lead to a long-term solution is keeping up the economicpressure and continuing to participate in nuclear negotiations. o some extent, the ball is in ehran’s court.Irans leaders can choose to work with the international community or ace increasing isolation.Cooperation rom Iran could take many orms, rom working with IAEA inspectors to engaging with theP5+1, rom a short-term deal on 20% enriched uranium to a comprehensive, long-term agreement. At theend o the day, the international community will not allow Iran to build a nuclear weapon. Achieving thatgoal will require strong leadership and clear thinking rom the next administration.

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