Iran and Weapons
of Mass Destruction
There is another important dimension to Iran's military capabilities. Iran has long sought weapons of mass destruction, and the means to deliver them--although its efforts have never compared in scale to those of Iraq. Iran has lacked the resources to finance such a massive world-wide purchasing effort, and its revolutionary turmoil has limited its access to foreign technology and the efficiency of its industrial base. Iran has, however, sought long-range missiles, produced chemical weapons, developed biological weapons, and made efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.
Given the limitations of Iran's conventional forces, these efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction are probably the most threatening aspect of Iran's present and future military capabilities. This has been reflected in many of the recent US statements about the threat from Iran. A recent report on US security strategy for the Middle East by the Office of the Secretary of Defense refers to this threat as follows: 447
Iran harbors ambitions of establishing Iranian hegemony over the Persian Gulf and expanding its influence over radical Islamist forces. . . . It is obvious that Iran is assertively flexing its muscles vis-à-vis its smaller Gulf neighbors. Of even greater concern in the long run, Iran is also clearly dedicated to developing weapons of mass destruction, including chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, a prospect that would have serious repercussions for regional stability.
Joseph S. Nye, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, stated in early 1995 that: 448
Iran is . . . clearly dedicated to developing weapons of mass destruction, including chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, a prospect that would have serious repercussions for regional stability and perhaps for our ability