Saban Center at Brookings
Middle East Memo, No. 27
Suzanne Maloney
January 2013

Summary: The issue of Iran has become a central preoccupation for the international community in recent months, thanks to the intersection of the historic changes in the region, an American presidential election, sharpening rhetoric from Israel, and Tehran’s relentless determination to advance its nuclear capabilities. The focus of policymakers in Washington and around the world remains fixed on the options for forestalling Iran’s determined march toward a nuclear weapons capability. This is the appropriate objective; the best possible outcome for maintaining peace and security in the Gulf and avoiding a deeply destabilizing nuclear arms race remains a credible, durable solution that curtails Iran’s nuclear ambitions. And while achieving such an outcome remains profoundly problematic, largely as a result of Tehran’s intransigence, preventing Iran from crossing the nuclear weapons threshold—either through persuasion, coercion, or some combination of the two—remains fully and unambiguously within the capabilities of the international community.

“Thinking the Unthinkable: The Gulf States and the Prospect of a Nuclear Iran”