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Deterrence Misapplied

Challenges in Containing a Nuclear Iran

Author: Frederick W. Kagan, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute

Deterrence Misapplied - deterrence-misapplied

Publisher Council on Foreign Relations Press

Release Date June 2010

10 pages


Given the nature and structure of its government, is it possible to contain an Iran with nuclear weapons? In this discussion paper, sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Frederick W. Kagan explores the applicability of deterrence—from a historic and theoretical perspective—to the Iranian regime. Kagan concludes that for numerous structural and strategic reasons, it is impossible to assess with any confidence that the Islamic Republic with nuclear weapons could be contained or deterred.

Note: Contributors were not asked their views about the possibility that Iran may develop nuclear weapons nor about the most effective U.S. policies to avoid that eventuality. Rather, they were told to assume that despite U.S. efforts, Iran had developed nuclear weapons, and they were asked to help assess U.S. options at that point.

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Frederick W. Kagan is a resident scholar and director of the American Enterprise Institute's Critical Threats Project.

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