AEI learns to stop worrying, love the Iranian bomb

Elgaland Vargaland (http://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/5017678077/)

Article Highlights

  • Reconciliation with an Iranian bomb is not a good thing, the region will be reshaped by Tehran.

    Tweet This

  • A military attack on Iran will only slow the program down. That may be the least of all evils, but it is no panacea.

    Tweet This

  • If Iran uses or tests its nuclear weapons, there will be no argument about whether they have one or not, what their intentions are, or not.

    Tweet This

Tomorrow, AEI will release a report, “Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran,” which I co-authored with my colleagues Tom Donnelly and Maseh Zarif. (It will be live here tomorrow at 9 a.m.) We’ll talk about it at an event on the Hill with Senator Mark Kirk at 10:30 tomorrow morning. In the run-up to the release of the report, which we hope will be a wake-up call about the limits of our ability to contain a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic of Iran, we released a video talking a little about the challenges. I dutifully tweeted out a link to the vid, little knowing the ardor of my many, ahem, followers. Here’s what I said:

The biggest problem for the United States is not Iran getting a bomb and testing it. It’s Iran getting a nuclear weapon and not using it.

Now, if you have the attention span of a gnat, you would have ended there, and gotten really excited. You might even have tweeted frantically on the topic, with suggestions that AEI had “inadvertently” revealed the truth about the real menace of an Iranian weapon (“regional hegemony”), or if you were really a genius of extrapolation, you might have suggested that I believe that Iran “living peacefully” with the bomb is really America’s biggest problem. As if.

I appreciate the attention. Really. But let’s get the facts straight. In the video, I go on to say:

Because the second that they have one and they don’t do anything bad, all of the naysayers are going to come back and say “see, we told you Iran was a responsible power. We told you Iran wasn’t getting nuclear weapons in order to use them immediately. We told you Iran wasn’t seeking regional influence or regional hegemony through its acquisition of nuclear weapons,” and they will eventually define Iran with nuclear weapons as not a problem.

I’m not sure whether I can find enough words of two syllables to explain this, but read closely and follow along:

•    If Iran uses or tests its nuclear weapons, there will be no argument about whether they have one or not, what their intentions are, or not.

•    If Iran uses a weapon to attack, say, Israel—presumably an undesirable outcome—there will be no question about the need to eliminate Iranian weapons and the regime that holds them. That will be bad, but clear. (See Clinton, Hillary for more comments on same.)

•    If Iran, as many believe, is intent on amassing a second-strike capability and an arsenal of weapons before breaking out of the NPT, the United States and Europe, I suspect, will eventually reconcile to the government of the Islamic Republic with its finger on the nuclear button. The requirements of a serious and successful containment and deterrence strategy will not likely be met by a United States withdrawing from the region and disinvesting in the military.

•    Contrary to popular belief, reconciliation with an Iranian bomb is not a good thing. It means that the region will be reshaped by Tehran (or did you think the Saudis were worried about an Iranian weapon because they fear an attack on Israel? Seriously?) It means the spread of nuclear weapons throughout the region.

•    It means that the option of an Iranian attack on Israel will remain. It also means the option for delivering a warhead as far as Europe or the United States will become reality.

•    It means that Iranian recourse to a counter-attack will be substantial and frightening.

•    It means prospects for a peaceful overthrow of the IRI system will be diminished to almost zero.

These are not good things.

For those who are persuaded my argument is meant to build a foundation for the call to war, now, think again. A military attack on Iran will only slow the program down. That may be the least of all evils, but it is no panacea.

Want to learn more? Read the report tomorrow. Come to the event if you’d like, but register, please.

And thank you all for watching. So flattered.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Danielle
Pletka

  • As a long-time Senate Committee on Foreign Relation senior professional staff member for the Near East and South Asia, Danielle Pletka was the point person on Middle East, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan issues. As the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI, Pletka writes on national security matters with a focus on Iran and weapons proliferation, the Middle East, Syria, Israel and the Arab Spring. She also studies and writes about South Asia: Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.


    Pletka is the co-editor of “Dissent and Reform in the Arab World: Empowering Democrats” (AEI Press, 2008) and the co-author of “Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran” (AEI Press, 2011) and “Iranian influence in the Levant, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan” (AEI Press, 2012). Her most recent study, “America vs. Iran: The competition for the future of the Middle East,” was published in January 2014.


     


    Follow Danielle Pletka on Twitter.


  • Phone: 202-862-5943
    Email: dpletka@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Alexandra Della Rocchetta
    Phone: 202-862-7152
    Email: alex.dellarocchetta@aei.org

What's new on AEI

image The money in banking: Comparing salaries of bank and bank regulatory employees
image What Obama should say about China in Japan
image A key to college success: Involved dads
image China takes the fight to space
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 21
    MON
  • 22
    TUE
  • 23
    WED
  • 24
    THU
  • 25
    FRI
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Graduation day: How dads’ involvement impacts higher education success

Join a diverse group of panelists — including sociologists, education experts, and students — for a discussion of how public policy and culture can help families lay a firmer foundation for their children’s educational success, and of how the effects of paternal involvement vary by socioeconomic background.

Event Registration is Closed
Thursday, April 24, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Getting it right: A better strategy to defeat al Qaeda

This event will coincide with the release of a new report by AEI’s Mary Habeck, which analyzes why current national security policy is failing to stop the advancement of al Qaeda and its affiliates and what the US can do to develop a successful strategy to defeat this enemy.

Friday, April 25, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Obamacare’s rocky start and uncertain future

During this event, experts with many different views on the ACA will offer their predictions for the future.   

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.