With luck, Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons could be delayed through a combination of Iranian technical difficulties, U.S. military action, and European diplomacy. However, neither delay nor regime change would remove the causes of proliferation pressures in Iran. Iran needs to be assured that the U.S. will respect its autonomy if it ceases nuclear weapons development, while Iran’s neighbors need to be reassured that Tehran will respect their interests. Arab governments are reluctant to join in a regional security dialogue in part because of Washington’s double standard regarding Israel’s nuclear arsenal and treatment of Palestinians. To mobilize all of the international actors opposing Iranian nuclear development, the U.S. must recognize that Iranian proliferation, Persian Gulf security, the U.S. role in the Middle East, Israel’s nuclear status, and Palestinian-Israeli relations are all linked and cannot be resolved without a more balanced U.S. stance.

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About the Author
George Perkovich is vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He is author of Dealing with Iran’s Nuclear Challenge (Carnegie Endowment, April 2003) and coauthor of Universal Compliance: A Strategy for Nuclear Security (Carnegie Endowment, June 2004) and WMD in Iraq: Evidence and Implications (Carnegie Endowment, January 2004). Perkovich’s history, India’s Nuclear Bomb (University of California Press, 2001) won the American Historical Association’s Herbert L. Feis award for outstanding work of history by a non-academic historian, and the A.K. Coomaraswamy award of the Association for Asian Studies for best book on South Asia.