After the invasion of Iraq by the U.S., Iran halted its nuclear program in 2003 because of the impact of Iraq War as well as it did not have enough capability to produce nuclear weapons. Iran is a rational actor, because it calculated the cost-benefit effects very well. It is now advocated for its innocence for nuclear programs. So, what do you think is the next version of calculations for Iran? That will be not developing the nuclear weapons, but sending different kinds of signals to the U.S.
The U.S. and its Western allies are in the middle of two contending choices: one is to loose the tension on Iranian nuclear issues, another is to impose third sanctions. Before I explain my position, let me take an example. North Korea developed nuclear programs and halted it after Geneva Agreement in 1994. There were enough rewards, like LWRs, over the compliance to the non-proliferation regime. However, I want to point out that North Korea continuously developed the nukes even during the Agreement period. Why? North Korea needed the next version of bargaining card. For dictator, the number one goal is ‘to survive’ and ‘to dictate’ like Fidel Castro. Kim, Jong Il was regarded as not so powerful than his predecessor Kim, Il Sung internally and externally. So, I think he needed a power to dominate his nations and to resists foreigners. Kim, Jong Il is realist, he only needs power.
Let’s turn to Iran. Ahmadinejad is a rationalist. He does not need a ‘absolute power.’ Domestically, he can mobilize his people against the U.S., if he can use a ‘nuclear propaganda’ properly. He deceived the Bush administration (and the NIE, too) skillfully for four years. He didn’t follow the two mild UN sanctions, but his signaling actually played a significant role to lower the U.S. prestige on the ground.
In this sense, if North Korea is a realist, Iran is a rationalist: more thoughtful and delicate (even than the U.S.). Without any nukes, he could obtain his goal easily. So, what’s the next U.S. option over Iran? There is no fixed answer, but I think the U.S. should wait for a while until this situation would changed, but not the third sanctions!