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Anticipating a Nuclear Iran

Anticipating a Nuclear Iran: Challenges for U.S. Security

Jacquelyn K. Davis
Robert L. Pfaltzgraff
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Anticipating a Nuclear Iran
    Book Description:

    This volume is based on the assumption that Iran will soon obtain nuclear weapons, and Jacquelyn K. Davis and Robert L. Pfaltzgraff Jr. develop alternative models for assessing the challenges of a nuclear Iran for U.S. security. Through three scenario models, the book explores the political, strategic, and operational challenges facing the United States in a post--Cold War world. The authors concentrate on the type of nuclear capability Iran might develop; the conditions under which Iran might resort to threatened or actual weapons use; the extent to which Iran's military strategy and declaratory policy might embolden Iran and its proxies to pursue more aggressive policies in the region and vis-à-vis the United States; and Iran's ability to transfer nuclear materials to others within and outside the region, possibly sparking a nuclear cascade. Drawing on recent post--Cold War deterrence theory, the authors consider Iran's nuclear ambitions as they relate to its foreign policy objectives, domestic politics, and role in the Islamic world, and they suggest specific approaches to improve U.S. defense and deterrence planning.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53594-6
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. List of Tables and Boxes
    (pp. IX-X)
    (pp. XI-XIV)
  5. 1 Introduction: Setting the Scene for Iran’s Emergence as a Nuclear Power
    (pp. 1-25)

    Despite continuing international efforts to constrain or halt Iran’s programs, there is growing evidence that Iran is determined to become a nuclear weapons state. If this cannot be prevented, or if it can be only postponed, the United States and other nations will face the need to coexist with a nuclear-armed Iran and to contemplate the consequences of this situation for U.S. and allied/partner defense and deterrence planning. It is widely assumed that an Iran with nuclear weapons would threaten stability in the politically fragile and potentially explosive Middle East. It would also challenge the legitimacy of the international nonproliferation...

  6. 2 The Deterrence Dynamics of an Iran with Nuclear Weapons
    (pp. 26-55)

    How Iran crosses the nuclear threshold, together with the levels and types of nuclear forces that it chooses to deploy become important factors in considering how to deter or contain a nuclear Iran. In the event that Iran chooses a covert weapons deployment (the Israeli model) or opts to maintain a “threshold” capability (the Japan model), the international response is likely to be more restrained than in the case of an overt Iranian nuclear deployment (the North Korean model). It is logical to assume that there would be less of an international outcry because of the strategic ambiguity surrounding Iran’s...

  7. 3 Considerations Influencing Iran’s Nuclear Emergence
    (pp. 56-73)

    Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear technologies are based on several interrelated motivations and considerations, which in turn will influence the scope and nature of Iran’s nuclear posture if the decision is made to cross the nuclear threshold. According to Iranian officials, and as demonstrated in the preceding chapters of this book, domestic economic factors are among the primary drivers behind Iran’s pursuit of nuclear-power technologies, but this is not the entire story by any means. It is clear that many Iranians equate nuclear energy with technological progress and with power and influence at the international level. There is an underlying...

  8. 4 Nuclear Weapons Operationalization: What Type of Nuclear Force?
    (pp. 74-92)

    The nature of any nuclear weapons capability that Iran might deploy will rest on how the leadership views the role of nuclear weapons and their relationship to defensive and offensive strategic calculations and objectives. If those goals are strictly limited to deterring an attack on Iran or to regime survival, a small nuclear force would be sufficient—one that could retaliate against an enemy nuclear or conventional attack. A “use them or lose them” mentality might also apply if Iran were invaded. Deterrence, under Model I: A Defensive Iran, presumes that an opponent would thus be dissuaded from interfering in...

  9. 5 Implications for U.S. Strategic and Operational Planning
    (pp. 93-113)

    Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons poses a serious challenge to U.S. defense and deterrence planning. It is made even more difficult by the possible effect of radical Islamic ideology on Iranian national security policy and use of nuclear weapons. This effect has been the object of debate and speculation. According to Michael Eisenstadt and Mehdi Khalaji, some students of Shia Islam downplay such concern; others attach greater importance to ideology in decision making.¹ Faced with an Iranian leadership imbued with an apocalyptic theology, the Western paradigm of deterrence by punishment, or retaliation, may have little practical utility when it comes...

  10. 6 U.S. Deterrence Planning in the Event of an Iranian Nuclear Breakout
    (pp. 114-140)

    Iran’s decision to develop and deploy nuclear weapons will have profound implications for regional stability, global nonproliferation objectives, and U.S. strategic and operational planning. In terms of regional stability and nonproliferation, it may not make a great difference if Iran develops a defensive-deterrent (Model I) or an aggressive posture (Model II) because states in the region will feel threatened by either and seek to bolster their security through a variety of measures. In the absence of new U.S. security assurances, nuclear weapons would become a more attractive option for some states in the region, especially if the United States is...

  11. 7 Dealing with a Nuclear Iran and Asymmetric Challenges
    (pp. 141-152)

    Nuclear weapons will greatly enhance Iran’s ability to conduct hybrid warfare with a broad range of instruments through a combination of techniques from asymmetric and irregular warfare. These include the use of nonstate armed groups (Hezbollah and Hamas), together with high-end military technologies such as cyberwarfare capabilities, missiles, and, potentially, nuclear weapons. Hybrid warfare can be conducted against the military forces and civilian populations of other states, and against nonstate armed groups. When military operations are necessary to achieve specific strategic objectives, nonlinear, innovative tactics are favored to defeat a stronger adversary, such as the United States. However, direct action...

  12. 8 U.S. Deterrence Planning and Iran
    (pp. 153-162)

    Deterring a nuclear Iran will be challenging and difficult. Success will depend on how Iran emerges as a nuclear weapons state and the purpose of its nuclear deployments. A Defensive Iran (Model I) may be more easily deterred. However, this may not be the model that we will face. Much will depend on the evolution of Iran’s leadership. Iran may be not only determined to cross the nuclear threshold but also prepared at least to threaten to use nuclear weapons to expand its power and influence in and beyond the Middle East, as postulated in Model II: An Aggressive Iran....

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 163-214)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 215-226)