The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
The international dispute over Iran’s nuclear program seems to defy any attempts at finding a negotiated solution. This presentation traces the reasons for the failure of diplomacy to broader conflict dynamics which have contributed, not only to Iran’s defiant stance, but also to the shortage of genuine attempts by the international community to pursue the diplomatic option. It argues that international nuclear diplomacy has fallen hostage to the US-Iranian and Israeli-Iranian conflicts, which have since the beginning created formidable obstacles to dialogue between Iran and the P5+1 group. On the other hand, the failure of diplomacy has to do with the logic of non-proliferation governance, which has served to limit international efforts to the pursuit of the short-term goal of norm-enforcement. The presentation calls for a more prudent approach which recognizes that nonproliferation depends, not only on effective governance, but also on conflict management and the nuclear weapon states’ sensitivity to non-nuclear weapon states’ security concerns.