NUCLEAR ARMED IRAN – POSEN
Capability of developing nuclear energy is not a violation to the NPT
Fear of nuclear weapon intent; no actual proof.
Insists on its right to enrich uranium for power reactors, but not production of nuclear weapons
Ongoing negotiations since 2003 between France, Germany, UK, US
UNSC asked to suspend enrichment and implement other arms control measures (Resolution 1696); Unsuccessful.
If negotiations fail, three alternatives:
1) Move from diplomacy to economic/political coercion.
2) States could launch a preventive attack to erode/destroy the nuclear program
3) Develop strategies of containment and deterrence to coexist with a nuclear-armed Iran.
▯ Containment strategy (#3) most likely to achieve US strategic goals and so at lower risk and costs.
Not preferred outcome but diplomacy not working.
Economic Coercion (1)
Impossible to organize new int’l sanctions regime ▯ Russia and China won’t… think it will lead to war.
Won’t change Iran’s behavior, but can commit int’l community to another level
Can’t use an embargo on oil because it will multiply prices everywhere
Abundant raw materials, coveted by all, so it can subsist pretty well without us.
Preventive Military Action (2)
Can delay, but won’t prevent program recovery.
Attacks will rise Persian nationalism, strengthen argument that West is a threat, leave Iran with a permanent grudge.
Three types of attacks suggested…
- Very limited attacks on critical nods in nuke production chain
- Maximum damage on entire Iranian nuclear program
o Easily accomplished, but damage would extend far beyond nuclear centers
- Damage to nuclear centers AND array of other conventional targets (bases, etc)
o To weaken regime
Odds of achieving success with nonmilitary coercion – low
Possible costs of a significant military operation – high
▯ Reasonable to consider alternative strategy of containment and deterrence of a nuclear-armed Iran
“Grand Strategy” – Iran and the US (3)
Need to figure out Iran’s own strategy as well.
Most populous and developed state in Persian Gulf – ambitions to expand its power?
Want to expand influence, but no particular territory claims
Iran uses military force with some calculation – to increase costs to others obstructing its goals, not to remove obstacles directly
Not afraid to use violence in limited ways, but cautious in increasing influence and reducing others’.
Only exception: inflammatory rhetoric about Israel.
Arab regimes mistrust Iran
US has a lot of traditional economic interests in the Gulf, also connected to security
Don’t want earnings from exports to end up in mischievous hands
Must maintain a large military presence in the region
Because of Iran’s wide array of allies in the Gulf, poses a more credit threat of domestic destabilization than the democratic US
US proves to be a more attractive ally to most states in the region
But nuclear weapons make Iran equally powerful – can pursue its interest
Nuclear-Armed Iran’s 4 Threats
1) Iran could be emboldened by the possession of a deterrent force and its foreign policy would become more violent
2) Iran could directly threaten others with nuclear attack unless certain demands were met.
3) Iran could give nuclear weapons to nonstate actors
4) Iran could attack Israel with nukes (with retaliation of course)
▯ A more adventurous/violent Iran
With weapons, more inclined to involve itself in crises.
Leaders hide behind nuclear deterrence
Free to do anything, including meddling in domestic affairs.
Illusion that conventional attacks could carry less risk than in the past, due to nuclear deterrence
▯ Direct threats from Iran
Bald nuclear coercion against nonnuclear neighbors
Could ask neighbors to weaken ties with US
Nobody has ever managed to use nuclear threat to achieve strategic nuclear goals since WW2
Risk of preemptive US nuclear strike, in the even that it alerts forces to add credibility to its threat. **To be a nuclear-armed state is to be a nuclear target
▯ Iran and Nonstate Actors
Nukes in the hands of terrorists?
Seems unlikely—serves no strategic purpose, invites retaliation, and can’t be controlled
The most self-destructive thing a state can do
If weapon tracked back to the source, that country is fuuuuucked.
Cannot count on not getting detected
Pretty easy to figure out where a nuke that exploded came from; pretty easy to figure out whom in that region has nukes
Never have a guarantee that the weapon will be used for the original agreed upon purpose
“Promised to attack Israel but then attacked France”
Risks cannot be controlled by the supplying state.
▯ Iran and Israel
Nobody is sure whether Iran will act on its ambitions and annihilate Israel
Iran not concerned about retaliation because it’s big enough to survive it
Israel would be completely destroyed.
Most of Iran’s economic capacity is concentrated in cities bordering Israel.
If Israel were to retaliate, it would only require precision.
One reason for the fear is that Iran is led by religious fanatics who might be more interested in the afterlife
Ahmadinejad says a lot of fucked up shit. But internally he doesn’t have much influence over security policies
Supreme Leader Khamenei does. He is aware that nuclear weapons are destructive and terrible
Can’t tell whether Ahmadinejad understands the implications of his words, or if he says them for emotional effect.
Other Issues of a Nuclear-Armed Iran
Concerns about inadequate Iranian resources, organizational incompetence, and political decentralization.
- New nuclear states unable to develop secure retaliatory forces necessary for a stable deterrent relationship
o Due to relative poverty and inexperience
o Could lead them to freak out and just press the button
o In Iran’s hands to solve
o Don’t need a large arsenal to deter nuclear attacks by other states; one is destructive enough
o Iran’s most reasonable strategy: to disperse and hide its small force as best it can, from intelligence
o Spending nuclear arsenal on Israel would make it fucked for possible US retaliation
▯ And US is a greater threat. Obviously.
- Apparent decentralization of power
o Two military organizations – professional and Revolutionary Guard
o Fear the RG would end up with weapons; ideologically motivated and more radical
o RG very loyal to Supreme Leader
o Also sloppier control of practices…
Regional Nuclear Proliferation and Risks to NPT
Three policy options for Iran’s neighbors: (1) appease Iran comprehensively, (2) find a nuclear guarantor, (3) build their own nukes
(1) won’t work because states want autonomy that they don’t want to give up.
One set of concessions will lead to another.
(2vs3) US would offer protection to guarantee its interests in the Gulf
Four candidate nuclear competitors with Iran: Israel – Egypt – Saudi Arabia – Turkey
Israel depends on US for advanced conventional weaponry but is autonomous for immediate defense. Has nukes.
Egypt’s past nuclear energy program got shut down due to concerns. If Iran developed, Egypt would probably as well.
But it’s highly dependent on US conventional weaponry – US would suspend if it developed nukes.
Egypt is poor and this would unsettle its internal politics, again.
Egypt would be super vulnerable during the development of its program, with a nuclear Israel and Iran
Saudi Arabia would have stronger temptations. It’s the “great power” of the Gulf = natural competitor to Iran
Views itself as the protector of Sunni Arabs from Shia Arabs and Shia Iran
No nuclear science efforts though. Not other industrial capabilities to support nukes. Would take forever.
But… a lot of countries would have its back, given the oil and stuff. A lot of US cooperation.
Turkey more likely to develop than others. Already has US nuclear guarantee because of NATO.
NATO relationship would be jeopardized if Turkey went through with its own program.
▯ A nuclear Iran creates risk of additional nuclear proliferation in the Gulf and Middle East. Risks affected by US response
If develops nukes – while in the NPT – other states will lose fate in the purpose of the treaty. Proliferation = Failed treaty
Need to stop meddling in Iran domestic policy, it will just anger them.
Need to get other countries on board to be able to have a collective counter strategy should need be.
Offer Iran a package of incentives more consistent with its own concerns THE NATURE OF POLITICAL ECONOMY – GILPIN
The state as a political unit of democratic decision-making must – in the interest of progress – yields control to the new mercantile
MNCs are modern concepts; States are not.
Int’l society is increasingly rent between its economic and political organization.
Economies and technology are creating a highly interdependent world economy – boundaries not important
States command men’s loyalties to be the basic unit of political decision-making
Conflict of our era = ethnocentric nationalism vs geocentric technology