The Iranian Nuclear Threat : A Realistic Assessment

2832 Words May 6th, 2015 12 Pages
Michael Shapiro
May 6, 2015

The Iranian Nuclear Threat: A Realistic Assessment

Over the past decade, an international debate over how to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon has erupted. However, many people in the United States lack a thorough understanding of the implications of a nuclear Iran. A close examination of the facts demonstrates that Tehran has clear intent to develop, but not necessarily use, nuclear weapons. A realistic assessment should take this into account when considering the significant threat posed to the United States by Iran achieving a nuclear weapons capability.

The Threat
Prior to assessing the actual threat of a nuclear Iran, it is necessary to analyze why Tehran is pursuing this capability. Many experts view Iran—a country that invests heavily in Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, the Assad regime in Syria, and Houthi rebels in Yemen—as an aspiring regional hegemon. This may explain why Tehran has endured extraordinary isolation to develop its nuclear program. Merely possessing nuclear weapons would significantly strengthen Iran’s relative power over its neighbors. , Others claim that Iran views itself as a vulnerable state surrounded by adversaries, and therefore is pursuing nuclear weapons as a deterrent. They argue that the current Iranian regime is historically a passive actor primarily motivated by self-preservation rather than hegemonic aspirations. Some scholars believe that deterrence and hegemony are not mutually…

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