International policymakers face a host of unattractive options in their desire to confound Iran’s nuclear ambitions, experts at a three-part CFR symposium said this week. U.S. and European diplomats insist they remain committed to negotiations, but privately sound increasingly grim about the prospects for diplomacy.
The diplomatic stalemate over Iran’s nuclear ambitions continues, splitting experts between those who want to begin planning for a world with a nuclear-armed Iran, and those who see military action as a way of preventing it.
Diplomacy over how to handle Iran's nuclear program is stalled in the UN Security Council because of Russian and Chinese concerns that sanctions may be invoked. There are growing calls to avoid a divisive debate over sanctions and circumvent the UN by using economic levers against Iran.
The UN Security Council is trying to agree on the proper course of action toward Iran's nuclear program. Despite the myriad proposed strategies for dealing with Tehran, continued negotiations seem most likely.
The Bush administration has signaled a new strategy aimed at engaging ordinary Iranians at a time of heightened concern over the aims of their nuclear program. A new U.S. initiative embraces the “soft power” approach of broadcasts and cultural exchanges to try to boost democracy forces inside Iran.
Iran's decision to restart uranium enrichment raised the nuclear stakes again this week as conflicting statements from Tehran on its willingness to remain bound by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty raised new questions.
With international diplomacy fixed on Iran's nuclear ambitions, Israel's nuclear arsenal has been drawn into the debate. Tensions between Iran and Israel are complicating efforts to prevent further proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region.
Amid intensifying diplomacy in the Iranian nuclear crisis, there are doubts about the capacity of the international community to influence Tehran's actions. The transfer of the issue to the UN Security Council may not offer much hope for defusing the situation, some experts say.
The IAEA debates whether to refer Iran to the UN Security Council over its nuclear program. President Bush says the world must not allow Iran to have nuclear weapons, while Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says his country will never give up its right to nuclear energy.
The five veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council have agreed to refer the case of Iran's nuclear program to the Council. Yet experts see little likelihood of this apparent breakthrough leading to real, sustained pressure on Iran to make its nuclear activities more transparent.
Key states are coalescing behind the Russian proposal to enrich uranium fuel from Iran as the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency prepares to meet in a special session on the issue. But Iran's response has been mixed and support for coercive measures against Tehran is uncertain.
Iran's nuclear gambit rumbles on, with an emergency meeting of the IAEA now scheduled for February 2. Efforts by Tehran to avoid referral to the UN Security Council are being rebuffed by Europe and the United States, who meanwhile are seeking to assure a nervous Russia that no confrontation is imminent.
In the past, U.S. officials have been less than eager to define a specific redline for the Iranian threat. While setting a March deadline could provide more certainty and coercive leverage to compel Iran to cooperate with the IAEA, it also places U.S. "credibility" on the line, says Micah Zenko.
Matthew C. Waxman argues that international law still plays a powerful role in justifying or delegitimizing the case for military action. Just like in the Cuban missile crisis, the United States needs to present a plausible case for self-defense in order to strike Iran.
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.