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Iran: Arms and Weapons of Mass Destruction Suppliers

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Successive U.S. administrations since Irans 1979 Islamic revolution have viewed Iran as a potential threat to U.S. allies and forces in the Persian Gulf and in the broader Middle East and have sought to limit its strategic capabilities. The greater visibility of moderate elements inside Iran since 1997 led the United States to seek to engage Iran in a formal governmental dialogue, but the Clinton and George W. Bush Administrations did not reduce U.S. efforts to deny Iran advanced conventional arms and weapons of mass destruction WMD technology. Irans moderates appear to see regional threats to Iran as do Irans hardliners and have made no apparent effort to curb Irans efforts to acquire WMD. Even if moderate leaders had sought to do so, they have been largely outmaneuvered on defense and other issues by hardliners who still control the armed forces, internal security services, and key decision-making bodies. In the past, Iran has generally lacked the indigenous skills to manufacture sophisticated conventional arms or independently develop WMD, and one of Irans objectives over the past decade has been to obtain the technology and skills to become self-sufficient. Iran has come a long way toward that objective in certain areas, but in the aggregate, it remains reliant on foreign suppliers. This dependence has given the United States an opportunity to work with potential suppliers to contain Irans WMD capabilities. To try to thwart U.S. efforts, Iran has cultivated close relationships with foreign suppliers that are not allied to the United States, especially Russia, China, and North Korea. Curtailing arms and technology supplies to Iran has formed an important part of the U.S. agenda with all three countries. Congress and successive Administrations have enacted several laws and executive orders that impose sanctions on countries and firms that sell WMD technology to Iran. The most recent measure enacted is the Iran Nonproliferation Act, signed in March 2000.

Subject Categories:

  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Government and Political Science
  • Chemical, Biological and Radiological Warfare
  • Nuclear Weapons

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