THE PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE, USA

An Online Journal of Political Commentary & Analysis
Volume VII, Issue # 88, April 18, 2005
Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr., Editor
Government Committed to & Acting in Accord with Conservative Principles
Ensures a Nation's Strength, Progress, & Prosperity
Home Page   Main Menu   Recent Articles   Site Map   Website Index   Issues & Controversies
  Cyberland University   Political Science, Philosophy, & History: Lectures   U.S. Constitution
  American Constitutional Law   American Constitutional System   American Political System
  Conservatism, Liberalism, & Radicalism   How America Goes to War
  World War IV: Islamist Terror War Against the U.S.A. & the West

IRAN'S NUCLEAR AMBITIONS & U.S. OPTIONS:
A BRIEFING
By Michael Eisenstadt

IRAN'S NUCLEAR WEAPONS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM, THE MOTIVATIONS DRIVING ITS QUEST FOR A NUCLEAR MILITARY CABILITY, THE HIGHLY PROBABLE POLITICAL & GEO-POLITICAL CONSEQUENCES OF IRANIAN SUCCESS IN THIS ENDEAVOR, & THE IMPLICATIONS FOR UNITED STATES FOREIGN & MILITARY POLICY
FULL STORY:   The Iranian nuclear program is not unique to the current Islamist regime. Iran's nuclear program predates the Islamic Republic. It commenced under Shah Mohamed Reza Shah Pahlavi, the ruler overthrown in the revolution of 1978-1079 that brought Ayatollah Khomeini to power. There is a strong nationalist strain on both the Left and Right of Iranian politics that sees membership in the nuclear club as proper to Iran's place in the world. In short, Iranian nuclear ambitions are not regime-dependent. An array of geo-political factors would probably push a successor regime in the same direction, although it would probably be easier to manage the implications of proliferation, if the country was headed by a regime more democratic and constitutional in character.

Iran's motivations for developing nuclear weapons are diverse and varied. Firstly, it seeks what most powers seek by acquiring nuclear weapons: power, prestige, and influence; also deterrence and a sense of self-reliance. Accordingly, the policy implication is that Iran is not motivated exclusively or even primarily by security concerns, but by a variety of factors. It follows that U.S. security guarantees are unlikely to be sufficient to dissuade Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons.

THE NUCLEAR TIMELINE
How long it will take Iran to become a nuclear power will depend on the route it takes in its development program. There are three broad possibilities. Iran might seek to complete a uranium enrichment program within 3-5 years. Alternatively, it could seek to conclude a program of plutonium separation some 15-18 months after the start up of its reactor at Bushehr. Or it could seek fissile material from abroad (Pakistan or North Korea), which would mean that weaponization could take place within a few months, providing Iranian scientists have the know-how and means to build a weapon. This means that, within a few years at most, Iran will be a de facto nuclear weapons state, or be perceived to be a nuclear weapons state.
IMPLICATIONS OF A NUCLEAR IRAN
If Iran goes nuclear, there will be a number of political consequences. First, it will further demoralize those seeking political change, and strengthen the regime hard-liners at least in the short term. Longterm pressure for internal reform will of course remain but those pushing reform will have been set back. This, in turn, will result in Iran's neighbors becoming increasingly solicitous of Iranian opinion. Some, like Saudi Arabia and various oil-rich Persian Gulf states, might seek an independent WMD capability, and some will seek to strengthen security cooperation with the U.S.A. Israel would probably further reduce the thin veneer of ambiguity surrounding its own nuclear program. Such developments, if they came to pass, might have second-order and third-order consequences.

For example, Turkey, though a NATO member hoping for European Union membership and currently unlikely to develop nuclear weapons, would undoubtedly undergo marked change in its strategic assumptions and military policy. It is hard to believe that a major change in Turkey's threat environment would not have a significant impact on its defense policy and military doctrine.

The Lebanese terrorist group Hizbullah is perhaps the only group Tehran would probably entrust with nuclear weapons. Deniability will be crucial to Tehran in arming this group without involving consequences for its own security. Of more immediate concern is potential for Iranian support for Hizbullah and Palestinian terrorist groups to draw one day Iran into a confrontation with Israel, which could assume a nuclear dimension. Certainly, there was just such a type of risk when the crisis between India and Pakistan in early 2002 nearly lead to war, deriving from a terror attack on the Indian Parliament in December, 2001

U.S. POLICY OPTIONS
There are a number of important considerations in framing a U.S. response to possible developments such as these. Delaying the day Iran becomes a nuclear power is still important, but the U.S.A. is reaching a point of diminishing returns, because Iran is becoming increasingly self-sufficient in the nuclear realm. A diplomatic deal that sees Iran relinquish its quest for a nuclear capability is unlikely, because Iran refuses to compromise over enrichment and reprocessing capabilities and also because the most potent lever the possibility of an oil embargo is off the table, due to already high oil prices.

Preventive military action is not the attractive option it might be thought to be, because the U.S. may not have sufficiently detailed intelligence required for success, due to the immense secrecy surrounding the program and its strategic dispersal across the country.

However, the possibility of military action must remain on the table as a spur to diplomacy, and because the necessary conditions for success might be fulfilled, as a result of dogged intelligence work, or dumb luck. A combination of deterrence and containment might eventually be what the U.S.A. is forced to do, since it seems unlikely that the U.S. government will succeed in dissuading Iran from going nuclear.

The current Iranian leadership would probably prefer to be isolated with the bomb, than on warm terms with the international community without the bomb. But the Iranian leadership probably does not see the choice in this way; it might well believe that it can have its cake and eat it too. There are major challenges in creating a stable deterrent relationship with Iran. But Iran's leadership does not have a martyrdom complex, and does not seek to destroy itself. It wants to survive and continue enjoying its life of privilege and will not take steps that could lead to destruction of the Islamic Republic.

So we will need skill and luck.


LINKS TO RELATED TOPICS:
The Middle East & the Problem of Iran

The Threat of Radical Islam

War & Peace in the Real World

Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.

Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
Against the U.S.A. & Western Civilization

Islamist International Terrorism &
U.S. Intelligence Agencies

U.S. National Security Strategy



Michael Eisenstadt is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Director of its Military and Security Studies Program. His books on Iran include Iran Under Khatami (1998) and Iranian Military Power (1996). Mr. Eisenstadt has published several articles and monographs on Persian Gulf affairs and U.S. strategy in the Middle East. He addressed the Middle East Forum in Philadelphia on March 16, 2005, and the foregoing summary of his briefing was originally posted on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum.


Republished with Permission of the Middle East Forum
Reprinted from the Middle East Forum News
mefnews@meforum.org (MEF NEWS)
April 11, 2005




Return to Top of Page

Go to the WEBSITE INDEX

Return to Beginning of
THE PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE, USA,
Public Issues & Political Controversies


Return to Beginning of
THE PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE, USA
Most Recent Articles


Return to Beginning of
THE PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE, USA,
Volume VII, 2005


Return to Beginning of
THE PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE, USA,
Subject Matter Highlights


Return to POLITICAL EDUCATION Homepage

CONTACT & ACCESS INFORMATION




LINKS TO PARTICULAR ISSUES & SUBJECT MATTER CATEGORIES
TREATED IN THE PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE, U.S.A.:

Africa: Black Africa * Africa: North Africa * American Government 1
American Government 2 * American Government 3 * American Government 4
American Government 5 * American Politics * Anglosphere * Arabs
Arms Control & WMD * Aztlan Separatists * Big Government
Black Africa * Bureaucracy * Canada * China * Civil Liberties * Communism
Congress, U.S. * Conservative Groups * Conservative vs. Liberal
Constitutional Law Counterterrorism * Criminal Justice * Disloyalty * Economy
Education * Elections, U.S. * Eminent Domain * Energy & Environment
English-Speaking World * Ethnicity & Race * Europe * Europe: Jews
Family Values * Far East * Fiscal Policy, U.S. * Foreign Aid, U.S. * France
Hispanic Separatism * Hispanic Treason * Human Health * Immigration
Infrastructure, U.S. * Intelligence, U.S. * Iran * Iraq * Islamic North Africa
Islamic Threat * Islamism * Israeli vs. Arabs * Jews & Anti-Semitism
Jihad & Jihadism * Jihad Manifesto I * Jihad Manifesto II * Judges, U.S. Federal
Judicial Appointments * Judiciary, American * Latin America * Latino Separatism
Latino Treason * Lebanon * Leftists/Liberals * Legal Issues
Local Government, U.S. * Marriage & Family * Media Political Bias
Middle East: Arabs * Middle East: Iran * Middle East: Iraq * Middle East: Israel
Middle East: Lebanon * Middle East: Syria * Middle East: Tunisia
Middle East: Turkey * Militant Islam * Military Defense * Military Justice
Military Weaponry * Modern Welfare State * Morality & Decency
National Identity * National Security * Natural Resources * News Media Bias
North Africa * Patriot Act, USA * Patriotism * Political Culture * Political Ideologies
Political Parties * Political Philosophy * Politics, American * Presidency, U.S.
Private Property * Property Rights * Public Assistance * Radical Islam
Religion & America * Rogue States & WMD * Russia * Science & Ethics
Sedition & Treason * Senate, U.S. * Social Welfare Policy * South Africa
State Government, U.S. * Subsaharan Africa * Subversion * Syria * Terrorism 1
Terrorism 2 * Treason & Sedition * Tunisia * Turkey * Ukraine
UnAmerican Activity * UN & Its Agencies * USA Patriot Act * U.S. Foreign Aid
U.S. Infrastructure * U.S. Intelligence * U.S. Senate * War & Peace
Welfare Policy * WMD & Arms Control


This is not a commercial website. The sole purpose of the website is to share with interested persons information regarding civics, civic and social education, political science, government, politics, law, constitutional law and history, public policy, and political philosophy and history, as well as current and recent political developments, public issues, and political controversies.



POLITICAL EDUCATION, CONSERVATIVE ANALYSIS

POLITICS, SOCIETY, & THE SOVEREIGN STATE

Website of Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr.

Government, Politics, Public Policy, Legal Issues, Constitutional Law, Government & the Economy, Cultural Values, Foreign Affairs, International Relations, Military Defense & National Security, Geopolitics, Terrorism & Homeland Security, American National Interests, Political Systems & Processes, Political Institutions, Political Ideologies, & Political Philosophy

INDEX FOR THE ENTIRE WEBSITE

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z




THE PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE, USA

An Online Journal of Political Commentary & Analysis

Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr., Editor

Conservative & Free-Market Analysis of Government, Politics & Public Policy, Covering Political, Legal, Constitutional, Economic, Cultural, Military, International, Strategic, & Geopolitical Issues