Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi and I answer the question "Can Rouhani and Obama Make Peace?" in the latest issue of Foreign Policy Research Centre's journal. Hint: Yes they can, but it will be very difficult.
While Israeli leaders frequently assert that “all options are on the table” regarding a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, a unilateral strike is unlikely to materialize based on Israel’s strategic choice between pre-emption and acceptance laid out in this paper. A utility function assessing the costs and benefits of both choices demonstrates that acceptance of the Iranian nuclear program is clearly the better option than attempting to destroy it. This is due to four reasons: (1) a pre-emptive attack is unlikely to be successful, (2) Iran is very likely to retaliate after such an attack, (3) Iran possesses a significant non-nuclear arsenal for retaliation, and (4) the costs of a nuclear Iran, while significant, are not threatening enough to make a strike the better option.Click here to read the full paper
On an almost daily basis, American pundits and government officials warn of the consequences of a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic of Iran and outline what the United States must do about it. Some argue for preventive action to fend off apocalypse, as President George W. Bush famously warned of a “Middle East under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.” Others temper this dystopia with reassurances that Iran, even with nuclear weapons, can be effectively contained and deterred from first strike. Neither of these scenarios captures the broader effects on US-Iran relations. In fact, Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapons capability would have a stabilizing effect on US-Iran relations. The two states would move toward rapprochement because the benefits of normalization as well as the costs of non-normalization will become greater and more overt to both sides.
In this paper, I conduct a threat assessment of nuclear and radiological terrorism, as well as draw some policy implications.