Iran's Weapons of Mass Destruction
June 1, 2006
There is no simple or reliable way to characterize Iran's ability to acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and the means to deliver them. Iran is clearly attempting to acquire long-range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles, but it has never indicated that such weapons would have chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear warheads. Iran has never properly declared its holdings of chemical weapons, and the status of its biological weapons programs is unknown. And, although the Iranian leadership has consistently argued that its nuclear research efforts are designed for peaceful purposes, Iran's actions have raised serious concerns about its nuclear ambitions.
This latest work by Anthony Cordesman and Khalid Al-Rodhan covers all facets of Iran's weapons of mass destruction. The authors analyze Iran's motivation for acquiring WMD capabilities; the history of its WMD program; its chemical, biological, and nuclear capabilities; and its delivery options, including its missile program, air force, and Revolutionary Guards. They also examine the spectrum of diplomatic and economic sanctions available to make Iran comply with the UN Security Council, as well as military options and the different ways Iran might respond. In addition, the authors explore the geostrategic implications of these options on regional stability, energy security, and the struggle against terrorism. Up to date through May 2006, this is the most current and comprehensive reference available on Iran's weapons of mass destruction.
Anthony H. Cordesman holds the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at CSIS. He is also a national security analyst for ABC News, a frequent commentator on National Public Radio and the BBC, and the author of more than 40 books on U.S. security policy, energy policy, and the Middle East, including Iran's Developing Military Capabilities (CSIS, 2005). Khalid R. Al-Rodhan is research fellow with the Burke Chair and coauthor with Cordesman of several books on energy security and military strategy, including Gulf Military Forces in an Era of Asymmetric War (Praeger/CSIS, forthcoming).