The Challenges Of A Nuclear Iran
Iran's leaders say the country's nuclear program exists only for the purpose of generating electricity. Western intelligence agencies say the Islamic republic aims to produce nuclear weapons and intimidate its neighbors. How close is Iran to getting the bomb? How might it be stopped? And what are the implications for the United States and the rest of the world if Iran succeeds? This week, NPR looks at Iran and its suspected nuclear weapons programs in a series.
In this May 2007 photo, a F/A-18C Hornet takes off from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis in the central Persian Gulf. The carrier was part of major air and sea exercises by the U.S. military in the Gulf in June 2007, opposite the coast of Iran.
Nowhere is concern over Iran's nuclear ambition felt more strongly than among Iran's neighbors in the Persian Gulf. Even as U.S. companies rush to sell them an elaborate missile defense system, Arab leaders worry that Washington will fail to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
August 26, 2009 When Israel attacked Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981, Iraq did not retaliate. Analysts say that wouldn't be the case today if Israel were to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. Yet many Israelis support a pre-emptive attack because they believe Iran's regime wants to eliminate their state.
August 26, 2009 During a visit to Southeast Asia in July, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton candidly discussed what might happen if Iran gets the bomb and suggested one potential response: the extension of the U.S. defense umbrella to friends and allies in the Middle East.
August 25, 2009 If Iran does eventually become a nuclear-armed state, one option available to the U.S. is an approach that worked for nearly half a century: deterrence. Critics say Iran's leaders are undeterrable because they believe in religious apocalypse. But others say the tactic has been effective with even more recalcitrant foes.
August 24, 2009 Nothing is simple about Iran and its nuclear program. The subject is highly complex, involving questions of physics and chemistry, politics, diplomacy and the military. Even on the fundamental question of how close Iran might be to acquiring a nuclear weapon, there is much debate.