Iran’s Nuclear Aspirations: East Meets West

  • Colonel William Byron Penland

Iran’s nuclear ambitions are rooted in the desire to be a self-sufficient nation that has regional and global respect and influence, can defend its people and interests, and can ensure the survival of the Islamic Republic. Although Iran claims to seek nuclear capability for energy production, its seeming efforts to develop a program that is oriented towards weapon production, coupled with actions to keep these efforts clandestine, drive the United States and its allies to believe that Iran is working towards manufacturing nuclear weapons. U.S. incentives and sanctions have done little in the last 12 years to halt Iranian efforts. This lack of progress demands the United States and its partners take a bolder approach towards negotiations with Iran by offering a path towards a “Grand Bargain” in which the United States would grant Iran full diplomatic and economic recognition in exchange for total compliance with international treaties regarding nuclear proliferation. Doing so is the best hope to prevent Iran from becoming the next nation with an atomic weapon.