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A Strategic Framework for Engaging a Nuclear Capable Iran

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Technical Report

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Air War College Air University Maxwell AFB United States

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Today, few studies focus on how the international community should approach Iran once it crosses the nuclear threshold. David Kay, author of The Iranian Fallout, highlights what is missing from contemporary literature when he asks, What policies will limit any advantage, political or military, that Iran might gain from nuclear weapons This paper presumes, Iran will produce a significant quantity of highly enriched uranium despite international efforts to the contrary, and second, Iran will have the national will and capability to develop and deliver a nuclear weapon.The unknown variable is Irans desired end state. The regime could become more emboldened and threaten regional stability, or it can become a regional partner. The outcome depends on a variety of factors and the actions of the international community. From an American perspective, the United States should focus more of its near-term political effort on developing policies that provide regional stability and less time on policies and rhetoric provoking confrontation with a nuclear-capable Iran.This paper posits a variety of motivations explaining Irans desire for an offensive nuclear capability. It then attempts to answer Kays question through an evaluation of possible solution sets available for employment assuming the United States will face a nuclear-capable Iran. The outcome of the evaluation is a proposed framework that will lead to stronger relationships and provide regional stability in the Middle East.

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