Iran’s Nuclear Future

Iran’s Nuclear Future: Critical U.S. Policy Choices

Lynn E. Davis
Jeffrey Martini
Alireza Nader
Dalia Dassa Kaye
James T. Quinlivan
Paul Steinberg
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 152
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  • Book Info
    Iran’s Nuclear Future
    Book Description:

    As Iran's nuclear program evolves, U.S. decisionmakers will confront a series of critical policy choices involving complex considerations and policy trade-offs. These policy choices could involve dissuading Iran from developing nuclear weapons; deterring Iran from using its nuclear weapons, if it were to acquire them; and reassuring U.S. regional partners. The U.S. Air Force will need to prepare to carry out whatever policies are chosen.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-5308-4
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xiii-xxii)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxv-xxvi)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    The challenges facing the United States in the new strategic environment have been a matter of debate and analysis for many years. How to respond to Iran’s nuclear program has been at center stage. What has been missing is a systematic way of thinking through the complex issues and potential policies available to U.S. decisionmakers to achieve the multiple goals ofdissuadingIran from developing nuclear weapons;deterringIran from using its nuclear weapons, if it were to acquire them; andreassuringU.S. regional partners with respect to the credibility of the U.S. approach to deterring Iran’s use of nuclear...

  10. CHAPTER TWO Influencing Iran
    (pp. 7-18)

    Critical to achieving future U.S. goals with respect to the evolution of Iran’s nuclear program will be finding ways to influence Iran’s decisions. This chapter provides background on how this might be accomplished by describing Iran’s national security interests, assessing whether it can be expected to act rationally, outlining the current situation and uncertainties with respect to Iran’s future nuclear program, and describing the ongoing internal debate.

    While there is uncertainty surrounding how Iran may evolve politically in the near to medium term, Iran’s overall national security interests are broadly supported by the political elite and a large section of...

  11. CHAPTER THREE Dissuading Iran from Nuclear Weaponization
    (pp. 19-30)

    This chapter defines the Iranian actions that the United States wishes to dissuade, describes the components of a dissuasion strategy, outlines current U.S. policies toward Iran’s nuclear program, and concludes with an assessment of the critical U.S. policy choices.

    Given the state of Iran’s nuclear program, it is clear that Iran today has largely acquired the materials, equipment, and technology needed to develop a nuclear weapon. International efforts to control exports and interdict trade can now only hope to slow Iran’s progress and possibly deny it the specific technologies needed, for example, for nuclear warhead miniaturization and for mating a...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Deterring a Nuclear-Armed Iran
    (pp. 31-50)

    Were Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, the United States would need to define approaches to deter its use of these weapons against the United States, U.S. military forces in the Middle East, and U.S. regional partners. From past writings on deterrence, as well as historical lessons, a general understanding emerges that deterrence depends on raising the costs of the potential use of nuclear weapons, reducing the potential benefits, and credibly demonstrating the ability and intention of taking those actions. Successful deterrence depends on Iran acting rationally on the basis of assessing costs and gains.¹

    This chapter begins by setting the...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE Reassuring U.S. Regional Partners
    (pp. 51-66)

    Were Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, the United States would need to ensure that its partners in the region (the GCC states and Israel) have confidence that U.S. obligations backed by U.S. military forces will serve to deter Iranian nuclear attacks on them. What matters, then, are the views of U.S. partners and whether they would seek specific steps on the part of the United States for reassurance. To the extent that GCC states are reassured, this decreases their interest in seeking alternative security partners or developing their own nuclear weapons. In the case of Israel, a credible U.S. nuclear...

  14. CHAPTER SIX Approaches to Influencing Iran
    (pp. 67-72)

    Because the United States will need to find ways to influence Iran to achieve its nuclear dissuasion and deterrence goals, we defined three overall, integrated approaches. The approaches are based on different assumptions about Iran and how to influence its calculations of costs and benefits:

    Iran only responds to pressures and threats; thus, the first approach seeks to influence Iran by raising the costs.

    Iran only responds to the prospect of the loss of any gains, not threats; thus, the second approach seeks to influence Iran by denying the regime the benefits of actions that the United States seeks to...

  15. CHAPTER SEVEN Air Force Contributions and Preparing for the Future
    (pp. 73-78)

    While uncertainties exist about which nuclear dissuasion, deterrence, and reassurance policies will be chosen, what is clear is that the U.S. Air Force, in support of the combatant commanders, will play a key role in supporting whatever military tasks are required. Based on the analyses in Chapters Three through Six, Table 7.1 presents the menu of potential military tasks. Obviously, many of these tasks would be undertaken only at the direction of senior U.S. officials.

    In what ways can the Air Force prepare? The first step is to understand the purposes and timelines for these potential military tasks, because they...

  16. APPENDIX A Context for U.S. Reassurance Strategies: GCC
    (pp. 79-94)
  17. APPENDIX B Context for U.S. Reassurance Strategies: Israel
    (pp. 95-112)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 113-126)