A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, June 7, 2012

New CNAS Report on Iran Nulclear Program

Colin H. Kahl, Melissa Dalton, and Matthew Irvine have a new report at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) on "Risk and Rivalry: Iran, Israel and the Bomb," which is getting a lot of attention for its apparent comprehensiveness. I haven't finished reading it but it seems a useful contribution to the debate. Excerpts from the Executive Summary:
A nuclear-armed Iran would pose a significant
challenge to U.S. and Israeli interests and would
increase the prospects for regional conflict.
Nevertheless, a preventive military strike against
Iran’s nuclear program by either the United States
or Israel at this time is not the best option, and
rushing to war would risk making the threat worse.

Although Iran could probably be deterred from
deliberately using or transferring nuclear weapons,
a nuclear-armed Iran would be a more dangerous
adversary in several respects. Believing that
its nuclear deterrent would make it immune from
retaliation, the Iranian regime would likely increase
its lethal support to proxies such as Hezbollah and
Hamas and commit more brazen acts of terrorism
abroad, thus creating more frequent arises in the
Levant. The Israeli-Iranian rivalry would be more
prone to crises, and these crises would entail some
inherent risk of inadvertent escalation to nuclear war.
Preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons
should therefore remain an urgent priority for both
the United States and Israel.
Until Iran appears poised to weaponize its nuclear
capability, however, the preferable option is to
continue the current combination of pressure
and diplomacy. All options, including preventive
military action, should remain on the table, but
policymakers should recognize that the potential
risks and costs associated with using force are high.
Military action should remain a last resort, which
should be contemplated only by the United States
and only under stringent conditions.
Give it a look. The link above offers downloads in PDF, E-reader, and Kindle formats.

No comments: