Strategic Options Outline for Iran
To : President of the USA - virtual
By : Aleksandar Kitanovski, Macedonia
( HARVARDX course edx online ), October 2013
John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
79 John F. Kennedy St
Cambridge, MA 02138
U S A
ISSUE: The Syria Chemical Weapon Disarmament plan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's speech at the UN General Assembly have now changed the calculus for Iran. At this moment the US should now reassess and draft new proposals for confronting Iran and their nuclear program.
NATIONAL INTERESTS: Vital 1.) To prevent, deter, and reduce the threat of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons attacks.
Extremely Important 1.) Prevent, deter, and reduce the threat of nuclear weapons; 2.) Promote the well-being of US allies and friends and protect them from external aggression; 3.) States that support international terrorism be punished and convinced to desist.
ANALYSIS: As of today, Iran has been enriching uranium at levels of 20% and operating more than 19,000 centrifuges using two facilities at Natanz and Fordow. It has also been constructing a heavy-water reactor at a facility in Arak that could be used as a source of plutonium. Considering this and President Rouhani's "charm diplomacy", it's hard to define whether Iran is engineering a nuclear weapon. Israel is another factor, and has reminded all relevant parties that it will act unilaterally if its security interests are undermined.
OPERATIONAL OBJECTIVES: -Iran must under no circumstances, develop a nuclear weapon. -All civilian nuclear programs must be put under the auspices of the IAEA. -Israel's security interests must not be undermined.
STRATEGIC OPTIONS: 1.) Coercive Diplomacy: The US must specify what exactly is the red line in regards to Iran's nuclear program and develop a strategy around it. Iran must know if it chooses to pass this line, they will be endangering US vital security interests and will feel the full weight of all US policy tools upon it. Pros: Sends a clear, direct message to Iran with explanation of consequences; Israeli national security interests complements this option Cons: Could entangle US into another expensive intervention; could endanger current diplomatic progress with Iran
2.) "Olive 'leaf'": Our intelligence of Iran's nuclear program is
still too vague to create a strategy. While throwing an "olive
branch" might seem too lenient, the US could allow a small
sanction to end, thus giving us enough intelligence for a
Pros: Will give a clearer picture as to what strategic options the US should consider; allows US to engage Iran on its own terms. Cons: US could look weak to other states and international actors; could undermine Israel.
3) Bilateral, Direct Talks: The P5+1 talks, while considered mildly successful, still couldn't bring Iran and the US closer to a solution on their nuclear program. It's time to meet face to face and discuss what issues are at the forefront of this antagonistic relationship so that a solution might be presented and relations may be progressed effectively and efficiently.
Pros: Opens the door for a diplomatic solution; Iranian now has our undivided attention. Cons: Could endanger any progress from P5+1 talks; could undermine Israeli security interests.
RECOMMENDATION: "Olive 'leaf'". Considering the lack of intelligence, US must throw the first curve ball and see if Iran backs off the plate and takes a swing.
IMPLEMENTATION: US will use back channels to inform Iran that a sanction will end as of midnight on a day it feels comfortable with.
-Consider ending EO 12170 or EO 13608. These can be reversed easily and have a very low economic impact.
As the sanction ends, use all intelligence devices to study and critique what the current Iranian leadership has made of the revelation. Use new intelligence to develop and implement a strategy that is current and will have quick consequences for however the situation develops.