Tensions Surrounding Iran’s Nuclear Program Continue to Rise

UN inspectors returned to Iran for their second visit in three weeks to investigate potential military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.  The previous visits did not lead to any resolution or specific findings of military capacity but international suspicion of such capacity within the nuclear program remains peaked.  Iran’s nuclear program has been the center of significant international tension and threatens further economic consequences and potential military measures taken by certain nations.  The European Union has already imposed economic sanctions against Iran that will take effect on July 1 and has considered imposing further sanctions, along with other nations.  These sanctions have been imposed in light of what is deemed to be Iran’s lack of transparency in regards to its nuclear program.  Iran has stated that it has made significant progress within its nuclear program pertaining to uranium enrichment, raising more international concern.

In response to the continuous suspicion and sanctions, Iran has threatened to cut off Britain and certain countries within the European Union that are more dependent on Iranian oil.  These threats have caused some international members to question Iran’s motives, suspecting the intention is to pin nations dependent on Iranian oil against those that are independent.  Britain has reiterated it intends to put pressure Iran diplomatically and economically, and has urged Israel to refrain from taking military action targeted at Iran’s nuclear facilities.  Throughout the entire period Iran has insisted its nuclear program has been implemented strictly for peaceful purposes, however, attempted concealment of a relatively new uranium enrichment plant in Iran (eventually discovered in 2009) has worried the international community.  In a recent letter to the European Union, Iran asked for talks with the United States, Russia, Britain, Germany, France, and China at the earliest possible time.  In the past, such talks have increased tension and have produced “warlike statements” from Iran, leaving uncertain the productivity that would result from such talks.

What can the international community do to ease its concerns surrounding Iran’s nuclear program?  Do you agree with Iran’s approach towards those that have sanctioned Iran? How many times should the UN inspectors return to Iran?  Until they find what they are looking for?

The article can be accessed here.


  1. I am really not sure if the United States or any other nation that has nuclear capabilities has the right to tell another nation that they cannot develop their own. While Iran-U.S relations are far from friendly, that does not mean that the United States or any other nation should be permitted from telling Iran they cannot develop nuclear technology. The belief that Iran might use nuclear weapons against another nation is in my view not a real concern. Any nation that was to use a nuclear weapon against another would be met by a retaliatory strike that would ensure nuclear destruction of that nation. If either the U.S. or the Soviet Union did not have nuclear weapons, perhaps the Cold War wouldn’t have been so cold. The threat of nuclear retaliation prevented a war. Just allowing Iran to develop nuclear technology would also deprive them of a bargaining chip they can use against the rest of the world. If the world simply lets Iran develop nuclear technology, Iran will not have the ability to say, “let us develop our nuclear technology or we are cutting off your oil.” When all is said and done, it is much more likely that the world would benefit from letting Iran develop nuclear technology rather than be threatened by it.

  2. The United States and any other nation that has nuclear weapons capabilities has the right and, even more, the responsibility to ensure that no other nation develops its own nuclear weapon capabilities. I would go so far to say that the entire international community has such a responsibility, regardless of if they themselves have nuclear capabilities or not.

    I understand that Iran is claiming that its nuclear development programs are for peaceful purposes, but the intelligence points to the contrary. I also understand that Iran is aware of the consequences of launching a nuclear weapon (i.e. that it would be met with an extreme form of retaliation), but, at the same time, I am confident that Iran would not be afraid to use the fact that it has a nuclear weapon to threaten the already extremely fragile stability of the Middle East region. The international community has the responsibility to ensure that Iran does not gain such leverage.

  3. While I agree with Louis that the United States, or any other nation with nuclear capability for that matter, has no right to tell another nation not to develop such power; I do not agree with his main point. While it is true that nuclear weapons were never used during the Cold War and arguably also true that the absence of nuclear weapons might have made it hotter, the truth of the matter is that it only takes one mistake in dealing with a nuclear arsenal for the entire world to feel the consequences. Even if the threat is limited to just two nations wiping each other out, the long term effects of such a nuclear attack would be devastating for surrounding areas. Setting aside the danger of radiation, there are also going to be both short and long term problems in a host of other areas, such as ecology, in the immediate and surrounding areas, not to mention the devastating loss of life.

  4. I still believe that a nuclear weapon in the hands of Iran could have devastating consequences. And even though it has asked for talks with the United States, Russia, Great Britain, Germany, France, and China, Iran recently stated that it was unwilling to grant a request by international nuclear inspectors for access to a restricted military complex which is believed to house a chamber designed to test explosives used in atomic weapons triggers (See: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/14/world/middleeast/iran-may-not-open-a-site-to-nuclear-inspectors.html?ref=nuclearprogram). The International Atomic Energy Agency has already expressed irritation with this lack of cooperation. As I’ve stated before, the sanctions imposed on Iran (even though economically crippling) coupled with the incessant back and forth between Iran and the UN regarding weapons inspections seems to be a precursor to an inevitable act of force either by Israel or a western nation. Taking the idea one step further, if there is a show of force, how should it be manifested? Would it really be beneficial to initiate a full-blown military operation against Iran? Or, perhaps the international community should opt for a solution similar to Stuxnet, in which a computer virus could be used to destroy, or at least hinder, Iran’s nuclear capabilities?

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