Book - RAND Corporation

Containing Iran: Strategies for Addressing the Iranian Nuclear Challenge

| September 2012

Abstract

Iran's nuclear program is one of the most pressing foreign policy issues for the United States. An Iranian nuclear arsenal could further destabilize an already unsettled region and put important U.S. interests at risk. The United States has a strong interest in preventing such an outcome. There is no evidence that Iran has decided to acquire nuclear weapons. However, Iran does seem intent on acquiring the means to do so quickly. It is an open question whether the United States and its allies would be able to prevent Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold, if it so chose, at an acceptable cost. After almost a decade of concerted effort involving economic, diplomatic, and military sources of leverage, there has been little progress toward reversing or substantially slowing Iran's nuclear progress. Despite years of U.S. diplomatic efforts to stall that progress, the Iranians have succeeded in building an extensive enrichment program and likely possess the technical capacity to produce at least one nuclear weapon should they choose to do so. Coercion is unlikely to convince Iran to change course. This study assesses current U.S. policy options on the Iranian nuclear question. It suggests that U.S. goals can be met through patient and forward-looking policymaking. Specifically, the United States can begin to lay the groundwork for an effective containment policy while continuing efforts to forestall Iranian weaponization. A successful containment policy will promote long-term positive political change in Iran while avoiding counterproductive provocation.

The full text of Containing Iran: Strategies for Addressing the Iranian Nuclear Challenge may be downloaded here: http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG1180.html#abstract

About This Book

Containing Iran: Strategies for Addressing the Iranian Nuclear Challenge

Containing Iran: Strategies for Addressing the Iranian Nuclear Challenge
For more information on this publication: Please contact International Security
For Academic Citation: Reardon, Robert J.. Containing Iran: Strategies for Addressing the Iranian Nuclear Challenge. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, September 2012.

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