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Checking Iran's Nuclear Ambitions

Checking Iran's Nuclear Ambitions

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Were Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, there is a grave risk it would be tempted to provide them to terrorists. After all, mass casualty terrorism done by proxies has worked well for Iran to date. The fear about what Iran might do with nuclear weapons is fed by the concern that Tehran has no clear reason to be pursuing nuclear weapons. The strategic rationale for Iran's nuclear program is by no means obvious. Unlike proliferators such as Israel or Pakistan, Iran faces no historic enemy who would welcome an opportunity to wipe the state off the face of the earth. Iran is encircled by troubled neighbors, but nuclear weapons does nothing to help counter the threats that could come from state collapse in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, or Azerbaijan. Achieving trans-Atlantic consensus on how to respond to Iran's nuclear program will be difficult. This is a remarkably bad time for the international community to face the Iran nuclear problem, because the tensions about the Iraq WMD issue still poison relations and weaken U.S. ability to respond. Nevertheless, Iran's nuclear program poses a stark challenge to the international nonproliferation regime. There is no doubt that Iran is developing worrisome capabilities. If the world community led by Western countries is unable to prevent Iranian proliferation, then it is unclear that there is much meaning to global nonproliferation norms. Iran's nuclear program raises stark shortcomings with the global nonproliferation norms. The basic deal behind the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is that countries are allowed to acquire a wide range of troubling capabilities in return for being open and transparent. The NPT gives Iran every right to have a full closed fuel cycle, with large uranium enrichment facilities and a reprocessing plant that can extract substantial amounts of plutonium capabilities which would permit Iran at any time to rapidly "break out" of the NPT, building a considerable number of nuclear we
Were Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, there is a grave risk it would be tempted to provide them to terrorists. After all, mass casualty terrorism done by proxies has worked well for Iran to date. The fear about what Iran might do with nuclear weapons is fed by the concern that Tehran has no clear reason to be pursuing nuclear weapons. The strategic rationale for Iran's nuclear program is by no means obvious. Unlike proliferators such as Israel or Pakistan, Iran faces no historic enemy who would welcome an opportunity to wipe the state off the face of the earth. Iran is encircled by troubled neighbors, but nuclear weapons does nothing to help counter the threats that could come from state collapse in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, or Azerbaijan. Achieving trans-Atlantic consensus on how to respond to Iran's nuclear program will be difficult. This is a remarkably bad time for the international community to face the Iran nuclear problem, because the tensions about the Iraq WMD issue still poison relations and weaken U.S. ability to respond. Nevertheless, Iran's nuclear program poses a stark challenge to the international nonproliferation regime. There is no doubt that Iran is developing worrisome capabilities. If the world community led by Western countries is unable to prevent Iranian proliferation, then it is unclear that there is much meaning to global nonproliferation norms. Iran's nuclear program raises stark shortcomings with the global nonproliferation norms. The basic deal behind the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is that countries are allowed to acquire a wide range of troubling capabilities in return for being open and transparent. The NPT gives Iran every right to have a full closed fuel cycle, with large uranium enrichment facilities and a reprocessing plant that can extract substantial amounts of plutonium capabilities which would permit Iran at any time to rapidly "break out" of the NPT, building a considerable number of nuclear we

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05/22/2012

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CHECKING IRAN’S NUCLEAR AMBITIONSEdited byHenry SokolskiPatrick Clawson January 2004
 
ii
****he views expressed in this report are those of the authors and do notnecessarily reect the ofcial policy or position of the Department of the Army, theDepartment of Defense, or the U.S. Government. This report is cleared for publicrelease; distribution is unlimited.****his book is the result of nearly 2 years of planning and analyses commissionedby the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC) to reconsider U.S.efforts to arrest Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions. It received support fromseveral organizations including The Smith Richardson Foundation and the U.S.Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute. Robert “Robin” Dorff, DouglasLovelace, and Marianne Cowling worked closely with NPEC to assure the book’sproduction. The most important acknowledgement must be made, however, tothe book’s authors and to the project’s co-chairman, Patrick Clawson who helpedguide their research. Finally, a special word of thanks is due to Carly Kinsella,the center’s research coordinator and Albert Wohlstetter Fellow. Only with hertireless help and that of the Strategic Studies Institute, could this volume havemade it into print.****omments pertaining to this report are invited and should be forwardedto: Director, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, 122 ForbesAve, Carlisle, PA 17013-5244. Copies of this report may be obtained from thePublications Ofce by calling (717) 245-4133, FAX (717) 245-3820, or by e-mail at
Rita.Rummel@carlisle.army.mil
****All Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) monographs are available on the SSIHomepage for electronic dissemination. SSI’s Homepage address is:
http:// www.carlisle.army.mil/ssi/ 
****he Strategic Studies Institute publishes a monthly e-mail newsletter toupdate the national security community on the research of our analysts, recentand forthcoming publications, and upcoming conferences sponsored by theInstitute. Each newsletter also provides a strategic commentary by one of ourresearch analysts. If you are interested in receiving this newsletter, please let usknow by e-mail at
outreach@carlisle.army.mil
or by calling (717) 245-3133.
ISBN 1-58487-149-0
 
iii
CONTENTS
Preface
Patrick Clawson
vIntroduction
Henry Sokolski
ix1.Checking Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions: Report Recommendations 
PEC Project on Iran
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2.Iran’s “Legal” Paths to the Bomb 
Victor Gilinsky
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 233.Iran’s Internal Struggles 
Geneive Abdo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
94.he Prospects for Regime Change in Iran 
. Rob Sobhani
615.inning Iranian Hearts and Minds 
 Abbas William Samii
816.U.S.-Iranian Strategic Cooperation since 1979 
Geoffrey Kemp
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 017.he Challenges of U.S. Preventive Military Action 
 Michael Eisenstadt
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13About the Authors. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

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