RAND: Deterring Iran unlikely, but opportunities exist

A new report from the RAND Corporation argues that despite the improbability of convincing Iran not to develop nuclear weapons, there are still opportunities for influence.

The report, “Iran’s Nuclear Future: Critical U.S. Policy Choices,” outlines the complexities for future U.S. policy to deter Iran’s nuclear program and details three options: Apply broad economic sanctions on the country, or target specific banks and businesses related to the Revolutionary Guards. Apply military pressure by training for conventional attacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities and expanding regional missile defense systems. Offer incentives not to build nuclear weapons by easing economic sanctions and lowering the perception of the U.S. military threat in Iran.

“Iran’s national security interests — the survival of the regime, the protection of its homeland and its goal of expanding its regional influence — are unlikely to change,” said Lynn E. Davis, the lead author of the study and a senior political scientist at RAND, in a statement. “The challenge for the United States is to influence how the Iranian leadership pursues these interests, for they could provide reasons for acquiring nuclear weapons,” she said.

The study was conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE, a federally funded research and development center that provides independent policy alternatives for the U.S. Air Force.

Allen McDuffee writes about politics and policy and covered think tanks for The Washington Post from 2011 to 2013. He blogs and hosts a podcast at governmentality.net and is currently working on a book about the influence of think tanks in Washington.


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