Iran's nuclear ambitions have once again returned to the headlines. Just days after the Mideast nation entered an agreement with the European trio – France, Germany, and the UK – US officials made allegations about Iran's continued weapons development. As those accusations remain unsubstantiated, writes nonproliferation expert George Perkovich, the focus of international attention should remain on Iran's deal with Europe. Indeed, facilitating this relationship will be complicated, due to the deep-seated distrust simmering among all involved parties – and the US presence in Iraq further complicates matters. The most effective route to securing a deal, suggests Perkovich, may have to entail UN Security Council involvement: "This would raise the incentives of all parties to fulfill its terms."
An Iranian opposition group has accused Iran of smuggling in weapons-grade uranium and bomb designs from the A.Q. Khan network and hiding a uranium enrichment facility. On November 17, the National Council of Resistance (NCR) told reporters that in 2001, A.Q. Khan gave Iran a small quantity of highly enriched uranium (HEU), though not enough to make a bomb.
The United States faces mounting concerns about Iran’s quest for a nuclear fuel cycle and the escalating insurgency in Iraq. Listen to a discussion on the prospects for moving beyond the current – and quite possibly dangerous – stalemate in U.S-Iranian relations.
Iran has been caught breaking its obligations under the NPT, and is now being investigated by the IAEA and the Security Council. France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, on behalf of the EU, have taken the lead in trying to reverse Iran’s threatening course. If Iran gets away with acquiring nuclear weapons in these circumstances, it would make a mockery of the nonproliferation regime. The Middle East would become even more dangerous. In short, Iran may be the proliferation tipping point.
On October 21, 2004, The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace hosted a launch of a new book Common Sense on Weapons of Mass Destruction by Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr.. Rose Gottemoeller, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment, moderated the session.
The National Bureau of Asian Research held a conference, Strategic Asia and the War on Terrorism, at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on September 22, 2004, in conjunction with the launch of its new book Strategic Asia 2004-2005: Confronting Terrorism in the Pursuit of Power, co-edited by Ashley Tellis and Michael Wills and with a contribution from Michael Swaine.
Last year, after European Union ministers won a freeze in Iran’s nuclear uranium enrichment activities, U.S. officials had an opportunity to exploit this breakthrough and negotiate an end to a potentially hostile program. The right combination of force and diplomacy might have worked to allow Tehran to build nuclear reactors, but not the nuclear fuel-fabrication processes that keep Iran’s nuclear bomb-making capabilities alive. Administration hardliners prevailed, however, and the United States pursued a more confrontational approach. They apparently believed that they had solid evidence of Iranian violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that would allow them to bring Iran before the UN Security Council, or provide justification for military strikes against the regime. But, it was no slam dunk.