Iranian Nuclear Weapons? Options for Sanctions and Military Strikes
August 30, 2006
There is no way to know what strategy Iran will choose in the future, or how the international community will respond. Iran's possible efforts to acquire nuclear weapons are an ongoing test of the entire process of arms control and the ability limit nuclear proliferation. At the same time, they raise critical issues about how Iran might use such weapons and the security of the Gulf region -- an area with more than 60% of the world's proven conventional oil reserves and some 37% of its gas.
Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons is not simply a struggle over issues of national prestige or "rights." It has a major potential impact on regional stability and future war fighting. If Iran does acquire nuclear weapons, it is possible that it will use them largely as a passive deterrent and means of defense. It is also possible, however, that Iran will use them to put direct or indirect pressure on its neighbors, threatening them to achieve goals it could not achieve without the explicit or tacit threat of weapons of mass destruction.