Iran’s Nuclear Program

What explains Iranian nuclear intransigence? (Note: This lecture was recorded in 2013, and a lot has changed since then.)

Takeaway Points

  1. Iran has a nuclear technology program. Western powers believe it is a front for a nuclear weapons program.
  2. Recently, Western powers have offered Iran concessions in exchange for dropping the program, but Iran has not followed through.
  3. While the U.S. was at the height of its power, Iran offered to end its program. But the Bush administration ignored the olive branch.
  4. Iraq turned into a quagmire shortly thereafter.
  5. Iran is worried that the West—the United States in particular—cannot credibly commit to concessions in the future.
  6. Once American war exhaustion from Iraq and Afghanistan wears off, the U.S. can use the threat of preventive war to induce Iran not to develop weapons and stop offering concessions. In contrast, the U.S. would have to continue offering concessions if Iran had a fully functioning nuclear weapons.
  7. Thus, Iran continues to proliferate.