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Anticipating a Nuclear IranChallenges for U.S. Security$
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Robert Pfaltzgraff and Jacquelyn Davis

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231166225

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231166225.001.0001

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The Deterrence Dynamics of an Iran with Nuclear Weapons

The Deterrence Dynamics of an Iran with Nuclear Weapons

(p.26) 2 The Deterrence Dynamics of an Iran with Nuclear Weapons
Anticipating a Nuclear Iran

Jacquelyn K. Davis

Robert L. Pfaltzgraff

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines the deterrence dynamics related to an Iran with nuclear weapons. How Iran crosses the nuclear threshold, together with the levels and types of nuclear forces that it chooses to deploy become important factors in considering how to deter or contain a nuclear Iran. In the event that Iran chooses a covert weapons deployment (the Israeli model) or opts to maintain a “threshold” capability (the Japan model), the international response is likely to be more restrained than in the case of an overt Iranian nuclear deployment (the North Korean model). This chapter considers whether regime change would affect Iran's nuclear ambitions, and if so, how, and discusses the implications of a nuclear Iran for the United States and allied/partner security planning. It also describes three heuristic models of a nuclear Iran and how they might relate to Iran's existing and projected strategic objectives and foreign policy goals: a Defensive Iran, an Aggressive Iran, and an Unstable Iran. In each of these models, the maintenance of strategic stability in the Middle East would continue to rest largely with the United States.

Keywords:   deterrence, Iran, nuclear weapons, United States, security planning, foreign policy, Defensive Iran, Aggressive Iran, Unstable Iran, Middle East

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