A few weeks ago, the students in my World Politics course presented some policy briefings about possible US actions the US could pursue in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program. Conveniently for our class schedule, we covered this a few days after the idea of negotiations were floated (as a professor, I couldn’t have timed that current event/readings match up more perfectly if I tried!). The students were assigned to groups, and each group was assigned one policy option to investigate – negotiations, airstrikes, military invasion (boots on the ground), covert actions, economic sanctions, and just letting Iran have the bomb. A few students summarized their arguments into a Op-Ed style blog post, and I’ll be featuring the best of these write-ups in the next few days.
Given that (at least at the moment) negotiations between the US and Iran are going well, we will start with one student’s write-up of that policy option. The opinion expressed therein is the student’s own work – and we’ll be featuring the airstrikes argument next, so you can hear a different opinion if you follow up!
For years, the United States and Iran have been dancing around the same international relationship questions. Should Iran have nuclear capabilities for peace? Will Iran enrich the uranium even more to build weapons of mass destruction? Should the U.S. continue to impose military action and economic sanctions to keep Iran under control?
Realistically, the best way for the U.S. to deal with Iran should be through negotiations. True, negotiations have faltered before, including the Tehran Research Reactor “Fuel Swap” Proposal and Iran refusing to address nuclear power in their revised P5+1 Proposal. There are pros and cons to negotiation, but it is widely believed that negotiations are the best way to utilize other political action and handle conflict.
As for economic sanctions, those can only work for so long. Eventually, the Iranian economy will naturally work around those sanctions. An increase in the unemployment rate in Iran reveals that perhaps these sanctions are not working on the intended targets. The economy involving oil is not as affected, and that resource is directly tied to regimes. Besides giving more reasons for the populace to resent the U.S. and forcing common citizens to turn to radical groups for necessities, what do the sanctions accomplish?
What happens if Iran is allowed nuclear reactors for economic purposes? Iran will be closely monitored. While there is room for secrecy on their part, a continued military presence has already reminded them of the many military bases stationed on all sides. Besides nukes being forbidden in Islam, it is highly probable that Iran would focus on self-defense to protect them from their many enemies in the region, such as Israel.
Overall, it is more cost effective to continue to negotiate and less likely to endanger more hatred. The terrain in Iran alone would make it costly to sustain any prolonged military action in the region. However, say Iran did develop nukes, how would that affect the U.S.? Well, the “Tsar Bomba” (the largest nuclear weapon, which was devised by Russia) affects roughly a 47.88 mi radius. Tennessee is about 430 miles across according to city-data.com, which lends to the theory that even if Iran did somehow manage to build the best nuke possible, they would not be able to make enough to destroy the United States.
Alfredson, Tanya, et. Al., Negotiation Theory and Practice, FAO Policy Learning Programme, http://www.fao.org/docs/up/easypol/550/4-5_negotiation_background_paper_179en.pdf
Davenport, Kelsey, History of Offical Proposals on the Iranian Nuclear Issue, Nonproliferation analyst. http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Iran_Nuclear_Proposals
Gayle, Damien, What to know the effect of a nuclear bomb on your home town? There’s an app for that, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2101508/Want-know-effect-nuclear-bomb- hometown-Theres-app-that.html
Habibi, Nader, The Iranian Economy in the Shadow of Economic Sanctions, Brandeis University, http://www.brandeis.edu/crown/publications/meb/MEB31.pdf
NSR, 3 reasons why frothing about Iran’s nukes is stupid, 12 March 2012, http://narniansocialist.com/iranian-nukes-3-reasons/