by Emily B. Landau
must not be allowed to go nuclear Iran
In the international debate over
But beyond the implications that discussion of containment might have for whether the West intends to invest the necessary political will and resources in a tough negotiation strategy that might still work, additional questions focus on the notion of containment itself. Is this the correct framework for discussing the potential dangers of
In fact, attempts to create the sense that the emerging threat could be managed through Cold War-type deterrence are misleading. They apply conceptual thinking from a very different time and place to a threat that today has serious implications in a number of previously unseen directions.
The Broader Threat of a Nuclear
Today there are surely grounds for believing that other states can deter nuclear
Nor do the proponents of containment take seriously enough the devastating implications of this development for the nonproliferation regime itself – what it would mean for the image and standing of the NPT, as well as the proliferation that it could potentially spark in the Middle East. And all this just at the time that U.S. President Obama is working to strengthen the global arms control conventions and convince the world of the need to move toward a world free of nuclear weapons.
as a Regional Superpower Iran
Moreover, this will underscore for Israel the continued need for a nuclear deterrent, making President Obama's plans for nuclear disarmament that much more difficult to realize. It will become starkly apparent that the goal of nuclear arms control cannot be attained through international agendas that fail to prevent proliferation, and that do not even begin to address regional threat perceptions and security concerns.
A Nonproliferation Regime in Trouble
The scenario of a nuclear
Unfortunately, current efforts in the direction of nuclear arms control by the Obama administration seem oblivious to this reality. The United States emphasizes the new disarmament agenda—namely, taking firm steps to advance the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, ratify the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty, and enhance the NPT at the May 2010 Review Conference—without recognizing and acting on the fact that stopping new determined proliferators like Iran is the essential first order of business to save the nonproliferation regime. The new cases of proliferation—and especially Iran attaining nuclear weapons—will be infinitely more detrimental to the nuclear arms control agenda than if the United States does not ratify the CTBT during the course of 2010, or if the FMCT does not get under way this year. The problematic Egyptian proposal to the NPT Review Conference for the initiation of negotiations on a NWFZ in the Middle East – with its intent to pressure
's Internal Dynamic Iran
A final word goes to the internal dynamics in
These possibilities have implications for the nuclear crisis as well. Nuclear proliferation challenges are closely tied to the identity of the states involved—the nature of their aims, threats, and regional and international behavior. Therefore, if
The unavoidable conclusion is that a nuclear
Emily B. Landau is the director of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at the Institute for National Security Studies,
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.