Command and Control in a Nuclear-Armed Iran

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Proliferation Papers No. 45
With the international spotlight focused on Iran and its nuclear agenda, Tehran has been loath to reliably assure the international community of its ultimate intentions.
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In the long standoff regarding its nuclear ambition, Iran has cultivated ambiguity and been loath to reliably assure the international community of its ultimate intentions, complicating Western efforts to understand, let alone constrain, Tehran’s endeavors. While many analyses have focused on how to prevent or contain a potential nuclear-armed Iran, the posture Iran would adopt once it has developed its nuclear weapons remains elusive. This paper highlights that while opting for command-and-control (C2) arrangements, Iran would have to reconcile two contrasting imperatives: first, to disperse assets and decentralize C2 to minimize the risks and potential damages of a disabling strike, which has been seen as a real – even imminent – threat in recent years. A contrasting concern emerged as the Iranian Revolutionay Guards’ Corps became a key formulator and executor of Tehran’s security policy: how to guard against the risk of unauthorized use of major weapons systems? Among the factors that could influence Iran’s choices in terms of C2 arrangements, this paper focuses on Tehran’s national security experience, the lessons it may have derived from it, as well as from the experience of other countries.

This piece originally appeared in IFRI's Proliferation Papers.

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