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Title: Managing Proliferation Issues with Iran

Abstract

Any government in Tehran will be inclined to seek weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and missile delivery options given the realities of its strategic environment. These weapons might help Iran to deter potential external threats, to achieve equality with other major regional powers armed with WMD, and to attain self-reliance in national security, given the isolating experience of arms embargoes. A more pluralist leadership in the future, however, may examine broader choices and trade-offs, and perhaps be less likely to cross key thresholds in WMD acquisition. In any event, Iran's WMD behavior is likely to be determined by both external factors, mainly the availability of crucial components, and internal factors, including calculations of costs, risks, and benefits. Among the benefits, psychological factors, such as prestige, will play an important role. Other important factors that might well shape Iran's WMD behavior include developments in Iraq, relations with the United States and other Gulf states, Israeli-Palestinian relations and the future price of oil. This paper offers recommendations on how the United States can best hope to influence Iranian decisions regarding the acquisition of WMD and missile delivery systems if the United States decides to pursue more direct engagement with Tehran. An engagement-nonproliferationmore » strategy should involve at least three types of parallel efforts: public, private and indirect. Public efforts should seek to create a more positive, less-threatening image of the United States among opinion leaders in Iran. Private efforts should seek to determine the purposes, nature and extent of Iran's efforts to develop WMD and missiles and to suggest better alternatives for Iran's security and prestige needs. Indirect efforts should involve key third countries and organizations in an attempt both to address Iran's security concerns and to deny Iran access to critical WMD and missile technology and components. Russian policy, in particular, will continue to play a vital role in determining the extent to which Iran is able to pursue WMD options. Without a fundamental change in the regional security environment, however, there is little reason to expect changes in Iranian WMD and missile policies, and the United States, acting alone and short of war, cannot prevent Iran from ultimately developing WMD and delivery systems. Furthermore, U.S. policies that take a tougher line with Russia, China and North Korea are not likely to lead to more restraint among these potential sources of WMD and missile technology. In the absence of engagement with Iran, unilateral U.S. economic sanctions will remain the principal, if flawed, U.S. policy tool for seeking to prevent Iran from acquiring WMD. The rationale is that by discouraging trade and investment, particularly in Iran's energy sector, the government of Iran will have less revenue to pursue proliferation. Without broad international support for economic isolation, however, such an effort may hinder Iran's WMD programs, though it cannot block them. Finally, options are needed to deal with major failures in nonproliferation efforts. These options include measures to deter Iranian use of WMD, to defend against their use if deterrence fails, and to destroy Iranian WMD capabilities should the need arise.« less

Authors:
;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
The Atlantic Council of the United States, Washington, DC (US)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Nonproliferation and National Security (NN) (US)
OSTI Identifier:
792241
DOE Contract Number:  
FG03-00SF22208
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Resource Relation:
Other Information: PBD: 15 Feb 2002
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND FUEL MATERIALS; 12 MANAGEMENT OF RADIOACTIVE WASTES, AND NON-RADIOACTIVE WASTES FROM NUCLEAR FACILITIES; 21 SPECIFIC NUCLEAR REACTORS AND ASSOCIATED PLANTS; 45 MILITARY TECHNOLOGY, WEAPONRY, AND NATIONAL DEFENSE; 98 NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT, SAFEGUARDS, AND PHYSICAL PROTECTION; CHINA; ECONOMICS; EMBARGOES; IRAN; IRAQ; MISSILES; NATIONAL SECURITY; NORTH KOREA; PRICES; PROLIFERATION; RECOMMENDATIONS; RESTRAINTS; SECURITY; SHAPE; WMD; NUCLEAR REACTOR; BUSHEHR; SPENT FUEL; CHEMICAL WEAPONS; BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS; PERSIAN GULF

Citation Formats

Nelson, C Richard, and Saltiel, David H. Managing Proliferation Issues with Iran. United States: N. p., 2002. Web.
Nelson, C Richard, & Saltiel, David H. Managing Proliferation Issues with Iran. United States.
Nelson, C Richard, and Saltiel, David H. Fri . "Managing Proliferation Issues with Iran". United States.
@article{osti_792241,
title = {Managing Proliferation Issues with Iran},
author = {Nelson, C Richard and Saltiel, David H},
abstractNote = {Any government in Tehran will be inclined to seek weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and missile delivery options given the realities of its strategic environment. These weapons might help Iran to deter potential external threats, to achieve equality with other major regional powers armed with WMD, and to attain self-reliance in national security, given the isolating experience of arms embargoes. A more pluralist leadership in the future, however, may examine broader choices and trade-offs, and perhaps be less likely to cross key thresholds in WMD acquisition. In any event, Iran's WMD behavior is likely to be determined by both external factors, mainly the availability of crucial components, and internal factors, including calculations of costs, risks, and benefits. Among the benefits, psychological factors, such as prestige, will play an important role. Other important factors that might well shape Iran's WMD behavior include developments in Iraq, relations with the United States and other Gulf states, Israeli-Palestinian relations and the future price of oil. This paper offers recommendations on how the United States can best hope to influence Iranian decisions regarding the acquisition of WMD and missile delivery systems if the United States decides to pursue more direct engagement with Tehran. An engagement-nonproliferation strategy should involve at least three types of parallel efforts: public, private and indirect. Public efforts should seek to create a more positive, less-threatening image of the United States among opinion leaders in Iran. Private efforts should seek to determine the purposes, nature and extent of Iran's efforts to develop WMD and missiles and to suggest better alternatives for Iran's security and prestige needs. Indirect efforts should involve key third countries and organizations in an attempt both to address Iran's security concerns and to deny Iran access to critical WMD and missile technology and components. Russian policy, in particular, will continue to play a vital role in determining the extent to which Iran is able to pursue WMD options. Without a fundamental change in the regional security environment, however, there is little reason to expect changes in Iranian WMD and missile policies, and the United States, acting alone and short of war, cannot prevent Iran from ultimately developing WMD and delivery systems. Furthermore, U.S. policies that take a tougher line with Russia, China and North Korea are not likely to lead to more restraint among these potential sources of WMD and missile technology. In the absence of engagement with Iran, unilateral U.S. economic sanctions will remain the principal, if flawed, U.S. policy tool for seeking to prevent Iran from acquiring WMD. The rationale is that by discouraging trade and investment, particularly in Iran's energy sector, the government of Iran will have less revenue to pursue proliferation. Without broad international support for economic isolation, however, such an effort may hinder Iran's WMD programs, though it cannot block them. Finally, options are needed to deal with major failures in nonproliferation efforts. These options include measures to deter Iranian use of WMD, to defend against their use if deterrence fails, and to destroy Iranian WMD capabilities should the need arise.},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2002},
month = {2}
}

Technical Report:
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