The Covert War against Iran’s Nuclear Program: An effective counterproliferation strategy?
Title: The Covert War against Iran’s Nuclear Program: An effective counterproliferation strategy?
Author: MAHER, Richard
Series/Report no.: EUI MWP; 2012/17
For nearly a decade the United States and some of its key allies have sought to disrupt, delay, and potentially reverse Iran’s nuclear program through diplomatic pressure, economic sanctions, and veiled threats of military attack, all with little or no success. As Iran inches closer to acquiring a nuclear weapons capability, the United States and Israel have embarked on a bolder and far riskier strategy of covert action to thwart Iran’s nuclear progress, which has included assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists, infiltrating and sabotaging procurements networks on which Iran relies for parts and equipment for its nuclear program, and unleashing cyber attacks against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Despite the increased prominence of covert counterproliferation efforts against Iran, there has been little effort by scholars and other observers to evaluate their effectiveness. While the goal of covert action has been to provide more time for diplomacy and economic sanctions to work—rather than to permanently cripple Iran’s nuclear program—covert action has become increasingly ineffective, self-defeating, and counterproductive. Contrary to its advocates’ claims, it will make diplomacy and a future compromise more difficult by reinforcing mutual suspicions, hostility, and antagonisms between Washington and Tehran.
Subject: Covert action; USA; Iran; Israel; nuclear capability
Type of Access: openAccess