Can Diplomacy Still Prevent Iran from Going Nuclear?
Gerald M. Steinberg
- The decision of the International Atomic Energy Agency on September 24, 2005, to declare Iran in non-compliance with respect to its obligations as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is a major diplomatic development, opening the door to consideration of Iran's nuclear weapons program by the UN Security Council.
- The proposal was supported by India, which had been seen by Iran as a key supporter. In addition, two other traditional allies - Russia and China - suddenly stopped their support. Security officials from both countries had quietly stated their concerns regarding the threat that Iranian nuclear weapons would pose in the wider context of Islamic radicalism.
- The diplomatic option is serious in large part because, unlike North Korea, or Iraq under Saddam, or even Libya, Iran seeks to be part of the international community and not a rogue state or a member of the 'axis of evil.' Iran is very active in international institutions and arms control frameworks.
- The Iranian leadership has taken some measures and engaged in negotiations that only make sense when seen as efforts to avoid sanctions. It is also dependent to a degree on foreign technology for its nuclear weapons and missile development programs.
- Iranian progress toward the development of nuclear weapons will likely trigger regional proliferation involving Egypt, Syria, Libya (again), Algeria, and Saudi Arabia. These countries have maintained biological, chemical, and lower-level nuclear weapons programs, which have become more active lately as Iran has accelerated its efforts.
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