Eyes on Iran: Nuclear Weapons Capability

The new report of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), released today, appears to be another convincing datapoint in establishing that Iran is working on a nuclear weapons capability. While this new information is important, especially the indication that one or more former Soviet scientists may have been involved in helping Iran with its directed explosive capabilities for detonating a uranium bomb, it still remains an open question about if and when Iran may produce a nuclear weapon. Even beyond that, it does not mean that Iran will be able to effectively deliver a nuclear warhead anywhere soon, given its limits in missile payload and flight capability. In the meantime, the IAEA report points to the importance of continuing multilateral dialogue with Iran and pushing for full implementation of the United Nations conference next year on a WMD-free-zone in the Middle East. Over the longer run, the nuclear weapons powers today, especially the U.S. and Russia, must undertake deeper reductions in nuclear weapons beyond the December 2010 New START bilateral agreement and begin to seriously delegitimize nuclear weapons. Until the major nuclear powers follow President Obama's goal of nuclear abolition, other countries such as Iran and North Korea, will continue to pursue the trappings of power.