Deterring Iran: From What? And How?

If and when Iran builds nuclear weapons, the U. S. would have a small arsenal of deterrence measures to discourage Iran from using them. The good news is they are likely to succeed.

What's the Latest Development?


With Iran seemingly still very interested in nuclear weaponization, assistant professor of strategy and policy Joshua Rovner examines what could be done to deter it. He says that while Hawks worry we can't, because Iran "is led by irrational and risk-acceptant religious extremists, they say", advocates of deterrence stress that we learned to live with equally risk-acceptant nuclear powers in the Cold War.

What's the Big Idea?

Royner says deterrence can work but must be tailored to a specific goal. The U. S. is likely to try to deter Iran from four kinds of threatening actions: rapid expansion of its nascent nuclear capabilities; providing nuclear materials, technologies, and expertise to groups like Hezbollah; using nuclear weapons as cover for conventional aggression in ways that threaten U.S. interests; and from using nuclear weapons in war.

Photo credit: shutterstock.com

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