Iran in the Crosshairs


Iran in the Crosshairs: International Elements of Non-Proliferation Policy

President Obama’s speech at the UN on September 25 amplified the urgent need to confront Iran’s nuclear program.  In an effort to project American strength on the issue, President Obama made the following statement:

“A nuclear-armed Iran … would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy.  It risks triggering a nuclear-arms race in the region, and the unraveling of the non-proliferation treaty.  That’s why a coalition of countries is holding the Iranian government accountable.  And that’s why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

Iran’s rapid development of fissile nuclear material is a complex issue.  The transition from conventional contemporary weapons to nuclear weapons has grave implications for the existence of the State of Israel; the potential for nuclear proliferation, including possession of a nuclear weapon by terrorist organizations; a severe oil shortage; and the degradation of the global ecosystem.

Iran’s ability to acquire a nuclear weapon is a manifestation of nuclear proliferation.  It tells us that the concept of an effective international non-proliferation regime is a marvelous idea that, based on the statements of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has not prevented Iran from moving rapidly toward a nuclear capability.  What is complicating the process?  How can the international community change course?

The American foreign policy position towards Iran was reiterated by President Obama during the American Israel Public Affairs Committee meeting in March of this year when he said,

“Iran’s leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  And as I have made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests.”

However, time has been running out for an effective deterrent strategy for Iran’s nuclear program.  Israel is growing wary of the impeding point of no return when Iran crosses the threshold of nuclear weapon capability; for example, Prime Minister Netanyahu drew a red line in the sand on September 27 at the UN by describing the final stages of the Iranian nuclear enrichment cycle and warning of a deadline for military action.  Syria, Turkey, and other regional Middle East states have their own national security objectives regarding Iran.  Russia, China, the European Union, and the UN (among others) have been difficult to coordinate in a multilateral sanctions approach to pressure Iran for policy change.  Meanwhile, the U.S. presidential election is in full swing and many analysts view big policy changes as unlikely to happen until after November.

In short, there are a number of moving pieces and disparate objectives in the non-proliferation equation.  How can observers make sense of all this information?  The objective of this issue of the National Strategy Forum Review is to analyze the strategic objectives of key states in the Iranian non-proliferation equation.  We have asked several highly respected authors to provide their perspectives on these issues.  The result is a deeper understanding of the complex foreign policy interchanges that affect the non-proliferation policymaking process.

The topics addressed by our authors in this edition include:

We hope that this edition of the National Strategy Forum Review will help make these issues more comprehensible to our readers.  We look forward to your comments.  Visit the issue at the link below:

Iran in the Crosshairs: International Elements of Non-Proliferation Policy


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