Argument: Iran can be deterred from using a nuclear weapon

Issue Report: Is a nuclear Iran intolerable?


William Pfaff. “Nuclear Iran is not a threat”. Asian Age. January 31, 2006 – In theory, a threat of aggressive use of nuclear weapons exists, but in the Middle East it is accompanied by certainty of overwhelming Israeli (or even American) retaliation. Warning by American politicians that “rogue states” might attack Israel, the US, British bases on Cyprus, or Western Europe, are manipulation or propaganda. Individual Muslims may welcome martyrdom, but nations, even Muslim nations, do not.

Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution Kenneth Pollack writes on page 419 of The Persian Puzzle that, “The threat that Iran might give nuclear weapons to terrorists tends to receive far too much attention, but it cannot be dismissed. Iran has possessed chemical and biological weapons since the end of the Iran-Iraq War, and if it had wanted to, it could have provided these to any of the different Hizballahs it has spawned; to HAMAS, PIJ, or any other Palestinian rejectionist group; or to any of a half-dozen other groups. Tehran has never done so. It has never done so because it has never believed that these groups required such weapons and because it feared that if their use were ever traced back to Tehran, the retaliation it would suffer would outweigh any gains from the attack itself.”

Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution Kenneth Pollack writes on page 416 of The Persian Puzzle that, “Our history with Iran suggests that this regime probably can be deterred, either from using its nuclear arsenal or from taking other aggressive actions in the belief that its nuclear arsenal will itself deter countermoves by the United States or other states. Although willing to tolerate very high costs when core interests are threatened, key members of this regime… have also demonstrated that they will concede in the face of heavy damage.”

Kingston Reif. Scoville Fellow, Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation. “Iran Can Be Deterred”. Washington Times. July 10, 2008 – the insinuation that Iran cannot be deterred is based on conjecture rather than fact. Iranian foreign policy, since the Islamic Revolution has been guided by the principles of realpolitik, not millenarian fanaticism.