PONI Debates the Issues: Iran Strikes

March 12 – 13, 2012

Should the United States take military action against Iran to ensure that it does not develop a nuclear weapon?

Matthew Kroenig
on the affirmative; Colin Kahl on the negative.

The Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) is pleased to host a debate on whether the United States should take military action against Iran's nuclear program. As the international community has been unable to validate Iran's claim that its nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful use, there has been a renewed debate on the potential for military action to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. If Iran is developing its nuclear program for military purposes, would deterrence work or would a containment regime prove ineffective and costly? Following a military strike, how would the United States prevent Iran from restarting its nuclear program with greater fervor? Are the costs of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon more dire than the potential risks of Iranian retaliation after an attack? These questions will be parsed out by two experts on the issue:

Dr. Matthew Kroenig, Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and assistant professor of Government at Georgetown University, presented his argument that, given the dangers of a nuclear Iran, a military strike is the "least bad" option (Foreign Affairs, Jan/Feb 2012). His opponent, Dr. Colin Kahl, Senior Fellow, Center for a New American Security, associate professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, will present his argument that a military strike would be counterproductive and that the costs of a strike outweigh potential benefits (Foreign Affairs, Mar/Apr 2012) .

This event is the 14th installment of PONI's ongoing live debate series (and the second debate in a


series on Iran), which is an extension of the PONI Debates the Issues blog. The objective of the series is to provide a forum for in-depth exploration of the arguments on both sides of key nuclear policy issues. Please join us for what promises to be an exciting debate on a crucial issue of concern for the nonproliferation community, international security analysts, and regional specialists focusing on the Middle East.

About the Project on Nuclear Issues
Established in 2003 to reverse the trend of declining expertise across the nuclear enterprise and to stimulate public debate on nuclear weapons issues, PONI aims to build and sustain a vibrant community of young nuclear experts from the military, national laboratories, industry, academia, and the policy community. To that end, PONI maintains an enterprise-wide membership base, hosts four major conferences and several smaller events each year, maintains an online blog, holds live debates on critical nuclear weapons issues, runs a six-month academic program for young experts, organizes bilateral exchanges involving young experts from the U.S. and abroad, oversees a working group of top young professionals, and distributes bi-weekly news and event announcements to members.

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Clark A. Murdock

Clark A. Murdock

Former Senior Adviser (Non-resident), International Security Program