Iran’s Nuclear Card
It is now clear that the Islamic Republic of Iran has been operating a string of secret nuclear sites in violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). In November, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the world organization that is supposed to inspect nuclear sites, passed a resolution condemning Iran for its transgressions and threatening additional measures if it finds “further serious failures” in the country’s adherence to the treaty’s strictures. The United States pressed for even stronger action. The Europeans and the Russians resisted, and the issue will be revisited by the IAEA in March. The most significant question now at the fore is: what is Iran likely to do next?
Three possibilities present themselves. First, Iran could continue its policy of deception and concealment, which it has been following for the past two decades. Second, Iran could bring itself back into compliance with the NPT and give up its nuclear ambitions. Third, and somewhat paradoxically, Iran could bring itself into compliance with the NPT and still, thanks to loopholes in the treaty, try to develop nuclear weapons. Each course of action has its rewards, and each has its risks. Each also has enough in common with the others that, to an outside observer, it may be hard to discern which of them Iran has actually chosen.
About the Author
Gary Milhollin is the director, and Valerie Lincy is a research associate, at the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control in Washington D.C.