To mark the release of their new AEI report, a group of prominent foreign policy and Iran experts, joined by keynote speaker Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), gathered Tuesday at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center to discuss the challenges of containing and deterring a nuclear-armed Iran. Sen. Kirk argued that Iran's historic aggression in the region, support for terrorism and poor human rights record make it unlikely that a nuclear Iran can be successfully contained. To combat this threat, he urged Congress and the Obama administration to adopt sanctions against Iran's Central Bank. The director of AEI's Critical Threats Project, Frederick W. Kagan, criticized the Obama administration's "unseriousness" toward the Iranian nuclear threat, especially given Tehran's aggressive drive toward nuclear weaponization. AEI's vice president for foreign and defense policy studies, Danielle Pletka, highlighted the false assumption among policymakers that containment of Iran is an easy task for the United States and its allies. Thomas Donnelly, the director of AEI's Center for Defense Studies, followed up on this point, noting that pursuing such a policy would be a risky endeavor because of the Iranian regime's pattern of hostile and unpredictable behavior. Maseh Zarif, the research manager for AEI's Critical Threats Project, explained that no nuclear weapons state has limited its arsenal to one or two nuclear weapons; Iran, for its part, would likely produce enough nuclear weapons to develop a survivable deterrent. The speakers were united in their belief that the United States must evaluate its options to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat and formulate a coherent policy before Tehran acquires a nuclear weapon capability.
Ongoing efforts to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons have failed, and the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran is fast approaching reality. Yet the United States and its allies have not formulated a policy to deal with such a threat. Many experts advocate a containment and deterrence strategy, but will it work? What are the real diplomatic, strategic and military costs and challenges? In a keynote address marking the release of AEI’s report “Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran,” Senator Mark Kirk will address these questions and the future of U.S. policy toward the Iranian nuclear threat. Report co-authors Thomas Donnelly, Danielle Pletka and Maseh Zarif will follow with their insights.
****Please note that this event is off-site. Map of event location: Capitol Visitor's Center****