Military Strikes vs. Arms Control

 

 

By ACA Intern Matt Sugrue

With Jeffery Goldberg’s article in The Atlantic the issue of a possible Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities is once again front and center. The possibility of an Israeli strike raises one immediate question: what is the supposed benefit to be derived from the strike?

There is still plenty of time allow the newest round of U.S., E.U. and U.N. sanctions to work. In an ACA Threat Assessment Brief, Greg Thielmann wrote,

In spite of ubiquitous rhetoric about “time running out” and “redlines being crossed,” an actualized Iranian nuclear threat is years, not months, away. Constructing realistic timelines for Iran’s potential development of nuclear warheads and the ballistic missiles to deliver them sets the stage for a patient and prudent pursuit of U.S. nonproliferation objectives.

A military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would set Tehran’s program back by some number of years. It would not, however, permanently destroy Iran’s nuclear program and it would not remove Iran’s interest in getting a nuclear weapon or at least breakout capacity. If anything, Iran would become more interested in acquiring a nuclear weapon after an Israeli attack. Moreover, launching an attack is one of the worst methods for convincing a country that it does not need to upgrade its military arsenal. Military strikes make for poor arms control.

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