The battle between the United States and Iran over Iran’s nuclear capacity is long overdue and seems to be contributing to the challenges facing the global economy. Currently, the United States is leading in imposing sanctions on Iran to cripple its economy and pressurize the country to abolish any program it is running on nuclear weapons. U.S. and its allies believe that these sanctions would have adverse effects on Iran and ultimately present no choice other than accepting the international guidelines and dismantle its nuclear weapons program (Wexler, 2012). This research paper focuses on the dilemma that surrounds the Iranian nuclear capacity. The paper outlines the allegations leveled by the United States against Iran over its nuclear program as well as Iran’s stance over its nuclear capacity. In addition this paper discusses the impacts of the dilemma on the global sphere and outlines how best the standoff between Iran and its foes could be handled without causing further harm on the global economy.
This Iran’s nuclear hedging has caused serious international concern. The United States administration and the European Union have made strides in isolating Iran. The two countries have imposed sanctions on Iranian banks, oil companies as well big businesses. These sanctions have seen a rise in employment rates and the closure of factories. Such actions have consequently caused inflation skyrocket in Iran’s economy. The value of Iran’s currency against the dollar has reduced by almost a half over the past few months, with little signs of gaining in the near future. The nation has witnessed a major rise in the price of basic commodities, the price of staple foods, such as milk and meat, have doubled, making life quite unbearable for most citizens. Even at this level, the U.S. administration plans to intensify the sanctions to a point at which the President Ahmadinejad’s regime can fall. This is worsened by such an uprising like the ones experienced in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt (Wexler, 2012).
The working-class Iranians have already begun complaining about the heavy burden they are carrying as a result of their country’s sanctions-depressed economy. The population has indicated that they are not willing to follow the footsteps of the Soviet union of poor economy due to the sanctions prompted by possession of unwarranted arms. Despite the sanctions imposed on the nation, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany have negotiated with Iran to abolish its nuclear program in vain. The superpowers have even offered incentives to Tehran but this has also not stopped the quest of the Middle East nation to stop nuclear activities. This has only called for more sanctions from the Western blockage (Wexler, 2012).
Impact of Iran’s Nuclear Capacity on the Global Sphere
The international community has been largely able to isolate Iran due to its nuclear activities and suspicion that the country could be building nuclear ammunition. However, the battles and sanctions leveled against Iran have not only affected the Middle East nations but are also threatening global stability in several ways. The impacts are already being felt across the world. This cold relationship between Iran and other countries is threatening the already ailing global economy. Even the superpowers like Europe, Japan, and the United States have been affected economically by the sanctions they imposed on Iran. For instance, European economy is already suffering from sovereign debt and weak economic growths. The economic crisis, Europe is battling with, is partly as a result of high energy costs. European countries such as Spain, Greece, and Italy are facing several economic challenges, which have sparked protests over the failure of their governments to come up with policies that would enable the countries to solve the economic crisis. In addition, high cost of oil per barrel has substantially affected the economy of the United States as well. American citizens have moved to blame the country’s president for poor economic policies. This explains why President Obama had rough time in convincing the electorate to have him re-elected as U.S. president (Al Arabiya, 2012).
The sanctions imposed by the Western countries on the import of oil from Iran have already seen the rise of world oil market prices up to $125 per barrel. In addition, 40 percent of world’s oil is delivered through Strait of Hurmoz and with Iran’s threat to shut down the strait, the world economy could suffer a major blow. The shortage of oil following sanctions on Iranian oil has prompted Saudi Arabia and other oil countries to step up their oil production to reach 12.5 million barrels per day. Iraq and Libya have returned to the global oil market all in hope that they would be able to fill in the gap left by Iran. However, the equation in the new strategy to fill in the gap has not worked so well and oil shortage is still a challenge and the high prices are yet to fall. In fact, Iran has downplayed the ability of Saudi Arabia to fill the gap created by their seclusion (Al Arabiya, 2012).
Despite these sanctions, the United States and its allies are worried that they may not be able to completely cripple Iran’s economy by merely imposing sanctions as Iran has resorted to trade their oil to friendly nations. Countries, such as China and India, have continued to import Iranian oil, giving Iran some hope to stand amidst the battles it faces from the western blockage. The Iranian leadership is working round the clock to improve the country’s economy without dropping its nuclear program. According to Iranian officials, the country has been able to devise other ways to sell its oil in order to achieve significant oil returns, which already amount to $55 billion. The same countries that consume oil are the same that sanction importation of Iranian oil. The country believes that an increase in world oil prices will harm oil consuming countries more than it can affect their own economy. Probably it is due to this reasoning that the country has decided to further cause an increase in oil prices. Recently, Iran came up with policies that would escalate tension in the Middle East and spread across the world as part of the countries` plan to destabilize oil prices. Observers allege that intervention by Iran in Iraqi affairs as well as its decision to encroach on their joint oil fields could just be part of Iran’s plot to affect the global economy. Iran is convinced that if it can cause political tension in the Middle East then the economy of the United States and its allies would be directly affected (Al Arabiya, 2012).
Over the recent past, Iran has also raised several controversial issues such as its move to occupy the United Arab Emirates (UAE) islands. Iran indulged in several provocative actions including Iranian president’s visit to one of the UAE islands. The country did set up a missile bases and initiated attempts to have these islands annexed to its provinces. This, among other provocative acts, is tailored towards creating political instability and raise tension in the oil rich region. Having realized the intention of Iran, the administration of the United States has vowed to continue with its mission against Iran and bring to an end the serious tension it is fueling in an attempt to stabilize the Middle East. (Al Arabiya, 2012).
In addition, the countries continued acquisition of nuclear weapon and it may initiate a race for nuclear arms among the Middle East countries, which would definitely destabilize the world order. Regional powers such as Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey would also contemplate acquiring nuclear weapons in order to build solid defense against perceived threats from Iran. William Hague, British Foreign Secretary recently warned that allowing Tehran to acquire nuclear ammunition could lead to the new cold war in Middle East, which would be a threat to world affairs (Wexler, 2012). Iran is engaging in activities that would favor its nation but are having far reaching impacts on global stability.
The Raging Debate over Iran’s Nuclear Program
The United States took their first stern stand against Iran’s nuclear program in June 2003, when American president George W. Bush, said that America and its allies would not watch Iran construct nuclear weapons. Obama administration has also taken a similar stance against Iran’s nuclear program. It has thus been open that the American leadership is in support of the Israeli leaders on their mission to prevent Iran from making further progress in its acquisition of nuclear weapons. The two countries’ deliberations are on how best they should carry out a workable and acceptable plan to thwart Iran’s illicit nuclear program. Israel and U.S. feel that from Iran’s indulgence in terror activities, its nuclear program is not sincere and peaceful (Wexler, 2012).
On its part, the international community has demanded that the Iran relinquishes its fuel cycle capabilities. However, the demand has only caused leadership’s nationalistic impulses in Iran. Iran seems to be keen on its national prerogatives as well as sovereign rights. It thus treats the demands of the international community as attempts being made by superpowers to bully its citizens. The country’s leadership argues that the challenge met on them by the west is not as a result of their previous treaty violations or provocations but attempts to have their country placed under their own dictatorship. The Iranians believe that if they would be able to succeed in their advancement against the will of the United States, then they would show strong sense of nationalism (Tekeyh, 2012).
Iranian leadership argues that it is a serious misconception to equate a nuclear program to a nuclear weapon. Those in their support argue that given that Iran has not decided to resort to production of nuclear weapons, there is a need that those against Iran’s nuclear program resort to diplomacy instead of issuing threats and imposing sanctions on Iran. Moreover, the country is a member of Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). On its part, Iran has insisted that its nuclear program is only intended for civilian research and development mainly for the production of isotopes needed in medical research and for industrial use. Under the terms of NPT, Iran has the right to build its nuclear capacity so long as the program is for peaceful purposes. Due to this, the Iranian government feels it has every reason to justify its indulgence in nuclear activities. Over time, Iranian leadership has insisted that the nuclear program, being pursued by the country, is designed for peaceful purpose as opposed to the allegations, being leveled against it, by the United States and Israel among other countries (CSIS, 2006).
Another complication in this debate is the fact that NPT requires all the member states to allow United Nations Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect the state of their nuclear related material in order to verify peaceful missions. But in June 2003, the IAEA Board of Governors reported that Iran had violated the Safeguard Agreements and also refused to submit its changes inventory report. As to why the country has kept tight secrets about its nuclear program, it argued that any revelation may prompt eminent attacks from its long time enemies, the United States and Israel among other nations. Iran believes that the Iranian program is legitimate and does not call for unnecessary attacks from whatever source (WPONAC, 2012). However, the plans by the Western powers is to increase sanctions on Iran until it has no choice but to allow IAEA to carry out a transparent, strict, and verifiable inspection on its nuclear program. Despite the sanctions that have worsened Iran’s economic standing, the country has shown more commitment to continue with its nuclear program.
Despite Iran’s assurance that its nuclear program is benign, the United States accuses Iran of hiding behind its civilian energy program in order to acquire nuclear weapons. Washington has since refuted claims by Tehran that they are really in need of nuclear fuel (CSIS, 2006). According to U.S., producing electricity from uranium would not be economically viable for Tehran as it will cost the country several more times just to produce a kilowatt of electricity from nuclear power than from its oil and fuel reserves. Iran’s malice was further evident when the country declined Russia’s offer to provide it with nuclear fuel at the price cheaper than the cost the country would incur to produce its own fuel. This explains why Iran’s claim that its nuclear program is purposefully peaceful has been downplayed by several nations. In addition, the United states argue that Iran’s declaration that its nuclear program is meant for medical research and industrial use is not convincing, since the amount of radioactive material is by far greater than what is needed to fuel the claimed activities (WPONAC, 2012).
On the other hand, those against the Iranian nuclear program argue that the country is up to design nuclear weapons, which will threaten the safety of several nations across the world. They believe that there are all indications to point at Iran’s plan to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Some ambiguous statements that have been made by some Iranian leaders have also further suggested that Iran’s plan to have nuclear weapons is underway (CSIS, 2006). Some Iranian leaders feel that following the long time rivalry between Tehran and Washington, it is important that the country acquires weapon capabilities. For instance, the newspaper Kayhan made an open call for Iran to acquire more knowledge on nuclear weapons and strengthen its nuclear capacity in preparation for upcoming battle. Another leading figure in Islamic Republic, Ali Larijani, has argued that if Iran acquires atomic weapons, no one will dare challenge the country. Ali argued that Iran enemies would be quite sure of the price they would pay in the event that they challenge Iran. Previous Iranian regimes could have resorted to nuclear capacity in order to discourage attack, but the current leadership seems to be keen on using the nuclear program to solidify Iran’s preeminence in the Middle East (Tekeyh, 2012).
Tekeyh (2012) argues that Iran is an outlier in the history of proliferation. Almost all the Middle East countries that have nuclear capacity received substantial help from external nations. For instance, the Soviet Union assisted China to acquire technical knowhow about nuclear energy and weapon designs. In addition, the Soviet Union supplied China with ballistic missiles and advised it on how to build a nuclear reactor. China, in turn, acted as patron to Pakistan, the country, which supplied Iran with enriched uranium enough to make two bombs. In addition, China furnished Pakistan bomb designs. Other countries include Israel, which was helped by France, while Canada assisted India. But Iran’s ability to have nuclear program without much help from foreign powers is a show of might in terms of scientific infrastructure. Iranian scientists have proved their nationalistic determination to transcend national politics by providing the country with optimum technological discovery. The scientists, who spearheaded the acquisition of nuclear capacity by providing the needed expertise, have also been shunned by international colleagues, a move they resent. The scientists have been angered by the decision of their counterparts in the Western blockage to alienate them from collaborative work and learning that are deemed crucial to scientific advancement (Tekeyh, 2012).
Within the Iranian government, key supporters of nuclear program are individuals associated with Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. These individuals have influence on national security planning through command of central institutions, including Guardian Council and Revolutionary Guards. They believe that Islamic Republic is constantly in danger of attack from external sources, thereby making it necessary to have a self-sufficient military. This kind of ideology majorly arose as a result of revolution that attempted to defy international norms as well as refashion them. Although the mission failed and time has passed as well, suspicions towards the international order and more so to the United States have not diminished. In addition, Iran’s nuclear program and its identity are fused together in the imaginations of its citizens. Thus, challenging the nuclear program is treated as challenging Iranians themselves (Tekeyh, 2012).
For Iran to agree to abolish nuclear program in exchange of enhanced security, the state has to forgo certain degree of sovereignty. The international community is pushing Iran to denounce anything to do with weapons of mass destruction. However, Iran’s quest for strong defense seems to have been initiated by the prolonged war, which it had with Iraq. The country was assaulted by Iraq’s chemical weapons at the watch of international community, a situation that has reinforced Iran’s mistrust in international order. Iranian leaders, who supported the strengthening of the country’s base on nuclear capacity, argue that Iran is surrounded by very dangerous neighbors and it will thus be necessary to solidify defense against any form of attack (Tekeyh, 2012).
Negotiations with Iran about its nuclear program have not yielded much as it often provokes slight disagreement within the country’s governing council. Some individuals in the Revolutionary Guards do not value any outcome that may be obtained from diplomacy. These elements believe that the United States is not really concerned with proliferation of Iran but rather exploiting the issue on nuclear program in bid to multi-lateralize Washington’s coercive policy. Some leaders from Tehran believe that with the level hostility that Washington has shown towards their country, embracing any concessions on the nuclear issue would only call for more sanctions. For this reason they dismiss negotiations and urge Iran to invest more in its nuclear program, despite the concerns being raised by the international community (Tekeyh, 2012).
Khamenei remains the ultimate arbiter of politics in Iran. He is responsible of setting the national course. He has supported and sustained the Revolutionary’s perception. He has consistently insisted that any setback by Iran would make its opportunistic enemies more assertive. The supreme leader has in the past survived a series of internal challenges as well external challenges, mainly due to American intervention. This probably explains why Khamenei seems comfortable with nuclear advocacy. However, Khamenei does not support hostility but advocates for diplomatic engagement and feels Tehran should remain sensitive to its membership and commitment to the NTP. Thus, the leader has resorted to cautious but incremental approach to Iran’s nuclear empowerment. This strategy has gone well with him as Iran has been able to expand its nuclear capacity, despite the Western red lines (Tekeyh, 2012).
Solutions to the Crisis Prompted by Iran’s Nuclear Program
Israeli Air Force is capable of compromising Iran’s nuclear facility in the same way it did to Iran and Syria. However, the option of military action is not popular with many. Intelligence report shows that, in contrast to the one and accessible nuclear base in Syria and Iraq, Iran possesses hardened and fortified numerous sites of nuclear materials across the country. Both Israeli military and intelligence allege that military actions may only deter Iran’s nuclear program for a short time. In addition, military actions could endanger the lives of many civilians, who could be caught in the crossfire. Obama administration has reiterated its support to Israel’s move and aims to avert the prolonged war that could result in the event that Israel will attack Iran (Rawshandil & Lean, 2011). In an interview with Atlantic, President Obama noted that should everything else fail then American–led strike would come handy for Israel and the Middle East as a whole. Unlike Israeli unilateral attack on Iran, an American-led strike would enable the creation of a coalition by the international community. The involvement of the United States would call for support from its European allies; NATO would also be willing to assist and also secure some support from the Arab world (Wexler, 2012).
There is a universal agreement that Iran cannot be allowed to hold nuclear weapons at whatever cost. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps have consistently violated human rights; thereby entrusting nuclear ammunition in their hands may not be advisable. President Obama recently stressed that preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapon is a global concern and an international rather than regional approach must be accorded. There is also a general agreement by different stakeholders that it is necessary to prevent Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons. However, the current question facing attempts to thwart Iran’s nuclear program is how to do it without causing more harm. The stand, currently taken by the U.S. administration, to solve the Iranian nuclear dilemma has been hailed as the best way to approach the matter. U.S. feels that it is important to exhaust every available approach before resorting to military actions against Iran. This would minimize chances of devastating fallout as a result of premature military actions (Wexler, 2012).
Obama administration has outlined that it will invest all forms of powers within its reach to push Iran to abolish its nuclear program. The strategies to be employed by U.S. include: isolation of Iran through political efforts, engagement in diplomacy by sustaining its coalition with other countries to enable close scrutiny of Iran’s progress, and imposing of crippling sanctions on Iran, which present an economic effort to resolve the same. Latest in the list is to resort to military efforts, just in case all other efforts fail to yield the desired results. The Obama administration believes that it is possible to disarm Iran without necessarily having to use force. To be able to make convincing steps, the administration approach should be given time as diplomacy seems to be yielding some desirable results in attempt to resolve the Iranian nuclear standoff. The P5+1 group: U.S., China, Great Britain, Russia, France as well as Germany, is currently renewing talks with Tehran over its controversial nuclear program. Substantial advancement seems to have been achieved as Iran’s ambassador IAEA reported Iran’s plan to allow the United Nation’s nuclear agency to have an opportunity to visit Parchin, which is the military facility, believed to be housing the nuclear weapon development (Wexler, 2012).
The consequences of Iran’s stand against the Western countries have been increasing economic penalties as well as international isolation. The way in which Tehran is balancing its nuclear program with the countries` well-being remains an important calculus that observers are keen on. Some people argue that for the battle against Iran’s nuclear program to gain momentum, Iranians must be made to realize that the cost of having nuclear weapons is far much greater than the perceived benefits. On the other hand, some argue that Iran lacks rationality in reasoning and may not be swayed by national economic crisis or warfare threats. Nevertheless, it is necessary that Iran is barred from acquiring nuclear weapons but the whole process is carried in a manner that would not further worsen the current global standing.