Sunday, December 04, 2005

Iran from Going Nuclear?

From Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Institute for Contemporary Affairs, founded jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation, JERUSALEM ISSUE BRIEF, Vol. 5, No. 11 1 December 2005 . . . .

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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