Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Deterring Iran from The Nuclear Option

Posted by K.E. White on March 23, 2010

Leonard S. Spector, of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, writes on how to deter Iran’s nuclear ambition.  His verdict?  Not too optimistic for the Obama Administration.  Without offering a clear pathway to rallying international support, hopes for deterring Iran seem to rest with Iran:  either through Iranian internal difficulties or nuclear over-reach.

From Spector’s article Can Iran’s Accelerating Nuclear Program Be Stopped?

What are the goals of the Iranian government? With each passing month a nuclear arsenal must look more attainable and the government’s hold on power more certain, notwithstanding the uproar over last June’s elections. It is hard to imagine that Tehran will curb its nuclear ambitions short of acquiring nuclear weapons. Recent political support from Brazil, Lebanon, and Venezuela, all wary of Western pressure, may make Iran more confident it can weather any sanctions regime the United States and its allies can bring to bear.

The Obama Administration is attempting to implement a set of powerful new sanctions to pressure Tehran to comply with Security Council requirements. The first step is to command Iran’s attention by placing what its leaders value at risk. The Administration has indicated it will target enterprises run by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, said to be leading the country’s nuclear program, and possibly the Iranian central bank. Sanctions that hit too hard, however, risk injuring the Iranian economy as a whole, potentially causing a backlash that could shore up support for the Ahmadinejad government and its apparent aspirations for a nuclear-armed Iran. Russian and Chinese support for an effective sanctions regime could also be undermined.

To stop a runaway nuclear program, the international community needs to push the brake pedal with both feet. As committed as the Obama Administration may be to this endeavor, without broader international support, it is difficult to be sanguine about its chances for success.

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