Iran’s quest for the development of nuclear program has been marked by enormous financial costs and risks. It is estimated that the program’s cost is well over $100 billion, with the construction of the Bushehr reactor costing over $11 billion, making it one of the most expensive reactors in the world.
The Federation of American Scientists and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace have released a new report, “Iran’s Nuclear Odyssey: Costs and Risks” which analyzes the economic effects of Iran’s nuclear program, and policy implications of sanctions and other actions by the United States and other allies. Co-authored by Ali Vaez and Karim Sadjadpour, the report details the history of the program, beginning with its inception under the Shah in 1957, and how the Iranian government has continue to grow their nuclear capabilities under a shroud of secrecy. Coupled with Iran’s limited supply of uranium and insecure stockpiles of nuclear materials, along with Iran’s desire to invest in nuclear energy to revitalize their energy sector (which is struggling due to international sanctions), the authors examine how these huge costs have led to few benefits.
The report analyzes the policy implications of Iran’s nuclear program for the United States and its allies, concluding that economic sanctions nor military force cannot end this prideful program; it is imperative that a diplomatic solution is reached to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program remains peaceful. Finally, efforts need to be made to the Iranians from Washington which clearly state that America and its allies prefer a prosperous and peaceful Iran versus an isolated and weakened Iran. Public diplomacy and nuclear diplomacy must go hand in hand.
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has endured as the cornerstone of the non-proliferation regime and remains the only legally binding multilateral agreement on nuclear disarmament. In May 2010, the NPT Review Conference met at the United Nations and provided a critical opportunity to advance the vision President Obama laid out of a world free of nuclear weapons.
Though the nuclear arsenal of the United States is smaller than it was during the Cold War, the day-to-day deployment of forces has changed very little. The United States still has weapons ready to launch at a moment’s notice at all times.
The reason is simple: the mission for nuclear weapons has not changed from the time of the Cold War.
Most Americans would be surprised to discover that the instructions to our nuclear targeteers still include a requirement for a surprise first strike against Russian nuclear forces to destroy them on the ground. It is time to shift the focus from reducing numbers of nuclear weapons to reducing the missions of nuclear weapons.
Hans M. Kristensen and two analysts from the Natural Resources Defense Council examine the debate over China’s modernization of its nuclear forces, review the composition and possible future development of the Chinese nuclear arsenal, describe past and current U.S. nuclear targeting of China, and use government software to simulate the effects of Chinese and U.S. of nuclear attacks. The report (PDF) concludes that both countries use the other as an excuse to modernize their nuclear forces, and recommends that urgent steps are needed by both sides to halt and reverse a nuclear arms race.