Checking Iran's Nuclear Ambitions

By Henry Sokolski; Patrick Clawson | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

Henry Sokolski

Considering the latest Iranian nuclear developments, one might question whether a study now on how best to restrain Tehran is simply one that's come too late. To be sure, estimates vary as to when Iran could build its first bomb. Some believe Tehran could do it before the end of 2005; others think Iran would only be able to do so by the end of the decade. In either case, though, the die seems cast: If Iran wants, it has all that it needs eventually to build a bomb on its own. Certainly, trying to deny Iran further nuclear technology in the hopes that this will prevent it from getting nuclear weapons is no longer a credible strategy.

The questions this edited volume addresses are whether or not any strategy can prevent Iran from going nuclear, what the proper goals of such a strategy might be (deterring use, keeping Tehran from deploying weapons, getting it to dismantle its nuclear program, etc.), and what other nonproliferation goals ought to be attempted (including trying to dissuade other nations from following Iran's example). The answers this volume offers are: 1) in the long-run Iran will gain little from going nuclear, and 2) much can be gained by enforcing the nonproliferation rules Iran agreed to and spelling out the costs to Iran of its continuing acquisition of nuclear weapons- related capabilities.

The book's seven chapters were commissioned as the first of a two-part Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC) project on Iran supported by the Smith Richardson Foundation and the Office of Net Assessment within the Department of Defense. The project's interim conclusions and policy recommendations are contained in this book's first chapter, “Checking Iran's Nuclear Ambitions.” The key point made here is that whatever is done to keep Iran from proceeding with its nuclear program should be done with a eye toward deterring other states, including Iran's neighbors, from following Tehran's example of using the NPT and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to get within weeks of having a large

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