Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type



International Relations


Iran, Nuclear, Weapons


For the past decade the United States and its European allies powers have been unable to persuade the Islamic Republic of Iran to halt what appears to be a program to develop either a nuclear-weapons capability or an actual atomic arsenal. There is good reason to want to prevent Iran from acquiring atomic weapons, although it is too late to stop Tehran from acquiring the capability to produce a nuclear weapon should it choose to manufacture one. Tehran‘s desire to develop either a nuclear weapons capability or an actual arsenal is based on a realist assessment of its security environment – it is looking for a way of ensuring the survival and independence of the regime and warding off potential attacks by the United States or other countries. There have been a number of missed opportunities to defuse the nuclear standoff with Iran. The first was in May 2003 when Iran sent the U.S. government via the Swiss a proposal for discussions on a ―grand bargain‖ to restore ties between Tehran and Washington. The Bush administration did not even respond. Britain, France and Germany might have been able to reach an agreement with Iran in 2003-2005, but Washington undermined the Europeans‘ ability to reach a deal with Tehran. Negotiations between Iran and the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany have also been unsuccessful in persuading Tehran to abandon its enrichment program. Coercive diplomacy has not worked. Sanctions have not persuaded Iran to reach an agreement with the West, though they have crippled the Iranian economy and hurt ordinary Iranians. There is no viable military option to resolve the nuclear standoff with Iran. The use of force against Iran‘s nuclear facilities would only make Tehran more determined to develop atomic weapons. While there are Iranian officials who would like a deal, it is not clear that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will ever be willing to reach an agreement with the West. But there is still a remote chance of striking a deal with Tehran provided Western powers are willing to allow Iran a limited enrichment program and offer it the kind of security guarantees it wants. Iran would have to allow limits on its enrichment program and intrusive IAEA inspections before sanctions could begin to be lifted. Containment of a nuclear Iran is feasible and may be the only available option in the future.



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