Containing Iran

Containing Iran: Strategies for Addressing the Iranian Nuclear Challenge

Robert J. Reardon
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 206
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  • Book Info
    Containing Iran
    Book Description:

    Iran’s nuclear program is one of this century’s principal foreign policy challenges. Despite U.S., Israeli, and allied efforts, Iran has an extensive enrichment program and likely has the technical capacity to produce at least one nuclear bomb if it so chose. This study assesses U.S. policy options, identifies a way forward, and considers how the United States might best mitigate the negative international effects of a nuclear-armed Iran.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-7637-3
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-vi)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Figures
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Table
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xv-xx)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxiii-xxvi)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    Can the United States prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons? Can it do so at an acceptable cost? What policies are most appropriate for the United States to address Iran’s nuclear efforts?

    The future of the Iranian nuclear program will ultimately be determined by the country’s technical and material capabilities and the decision making process of its leadership. Iran faces a number of constraints on its ability to produce a nuclear weapons arsenal, including access to necessary resources, technical hurdles, and financial limitations. It is also likely that the regime has not yet made a decision on whether or not...

  10. CHAPTER TWO Iran’s Nuclear Program: Past, Present, and Future
    (pp. 9-64)

    Iran’s nuclear program has made impressive progress, particularly considering the efforts taken by others—most importantly the United States—to deny Iran access to outside resources and assistance. At the same time, it is important to recognize that Iran’s existing nuclear capabilities are the product of decades of effort. Iran also has benefited greatly from past foreign assistance, especially the A.Q. Khan network, which provided Iran with many of the essential elements of its enrichment program.

    Iran’s nuclear program is not without its problems. Some result from U.S. and Israeli sabotage and multilateral sanctions. Much of it, though, comes from...

  11. CHAPTER THREE Explaining Iran’s Nuclear Policy Choices
    (pp. 65-88)

    Iran’s nuclear decisions are shaped by the external threat environment, the internal domestic political process, and the state’s technical capabilities. The discussion in this text so far has focused largely on the last of these: the technical and material factors that determine which nuclear outcomes are possible. Ultimately, though, Iran’s nuclear future will be determined by all of these factors. Over the long term, in fact, technical restraints will likely be the least significant of these. This is particularly the case now that Iran has demonstrated it is capable of carrying out all of the essential elements of the nuclear...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Constraints on U.S. Policy
    (pp. 89-118)

    Previous chapters have discussed the potential capabilities, limitations, and strategic and political motivations of Iran’s nuclear program. All of these factors will be important in shaping the future course of Iran’s program, and the decision of whether or not to weaponize. This chapter puts the nuclear issue into a broader context by considering external factors that U.S. policymakers must consider when addressing the nuclear issue. The United States, as the world’s dominant power, has a large and diverse set of interests that must always be considered when choosing its foreign policy. This chapter seeks to highlight the most important considerations...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE U.S. Policy Options
    (pp. 119-156)

    Current U.S. policy on the Iran nuclear issue draws on all of the available levers of U.S. statecraft: military, economic, and diplomatic. In the military arena, the United States actively reaffirms its commitments to defend regional allies, provides these allies with the means of defending themselves and deterring Iranian aggression through arms sales and military cooperation, and maintains a substantial troop presence in the region. Should it choose to do so, the United States could bring its military power to bear by conducting air strikes against Iranian nuclear targets. While U.S. leaders have stated their preference to avoid such an...

  14. CHAPTER SIX Conclusion
    (pp. 157-162)

    The previous chapters of this study have examined Iran’s nuclear program, the forces and processes that shape Iran’s nuclear decisions, and the international context in which the Iranian nuclear crisis is set. They identified possible future trajectories of the Iranian program, the range of U.S. policy options, and the potential costs and benefits of these policies. This conclusion summarizes the key policy implications of the research.

    Iran likely seeks to continue to improve its breakout options—shortening the time required to make weapons, increasing the number of weapons it could produce, and improving its delivery vehicles. It is unlikely Iran...

  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 163-180)