APLN Policy Brief 12
The following is a summary. Click on the adjacent link to download the full brief.
As negotiations on a comprehensive agreement on the Iran nuclear issue intensify before the current six-month deal expires on 20 July, it is instructive to remember what is at stake by way of noting comparisons with other proliferation cases. The two states that most recently developed nuclear weapons – Pakistan and North Korea – exemplify several of the reasons for concern about Iran also going nuclear: the weapons might be transferred to others, including terrorist groups, even if not authorized; they may spark a proliferation cascade; they may encourage adventurism; and they will increase the likelihood of nuclear war. This is not to predict that Iran will go down that path; only to illustrate the dangers. Iran does not have nuclear weapons today and there are ways to ensure, within reasonable confidence, that it would not be able to produce weapons before it would be too late for powerful nations to take forceful action.
The components of a solution may prove to be too politically difficult for both Tehran and Washington. Nevertheless, there is reason to believe that continued diplomacy and deterrence will dissuade Iran from crossing the threshold of nuclear latency to nuclear acquisition.
About the Author
Mark Fitzpatrick is director of NonProliferation and Disarmament at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He is the author of Overcoming Pakistan’s Nuclear Dangers (2014) and The Iranian Nuclear Crisis: Avoiding Worst-Case Outcomes (2008).
Image: iStock, grynold.