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  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Internal ethnic and sectarian tensions, civil conflict, continued instability, failed governance and economy. Syrian civil war. Iraq, Lebanon, “Shi'ite crescent.” Sectarian warfare and struggle for future of Islam through and outside region. Sunni on Sunni and vs. Shi'ite struggles Terrorism, insurgency, civil conflict linked to outside state and non-state actors. Wars of influence and intimidation Asymmetric conflicts escalating to conventional conflicts. Major “conventional” conflict threats: Iran-Arab Gulf, Arab-Israeli, etc. Economic warfare: sanctions, “close the Gulf,” etc. Missile and long-range rocket warfare Proliferation, preventive strikes, containment, nuclear arms race, extended deterrence, “weapons of mass effectiveness”.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Nuclear Weapons, International Security, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Bryan Gold
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The report shows that Iran's current missile and rocket forces help compensate for its lack of effective air power and allow it to pose a threat to its neighbors and US forces that could affect their willingness to strike on Iran if Iran uses its capabilities for asymmetric warfare in the Gulf or against any of its neighbors. At another level, Iran's steady increase in the number, range, and capability of its rocket and missile forces has increased the level of tension in the Gulf, and in other regional states like Turkey, Jordan, and Israel. Iran has also shown that it will transfer long-range rockets to “friendly” or “proxy” forces like the Hezbollah and Hamas. At a far more threatening level, Iran has acquired virtually every element of a nuclear breakout capability except the fissile material needed to make a weapon. This threat has already led to a growing “war of sanctions,” and Israeli and US threats of preventive strikes. At the same time, the threat posed by Iran's nuclear programs cannot be separated from the threat posed by Iran's growing capabilities for asymmetric warfare in the Gulf and along all of its borders. It is far from clear that negotiations and sanctions can succeed in limiting Iran's ability to acquire nuclear weapons and deploy nuclear-armed missiles. At the same time, the report shows that military options offer uncertain alternatives. Both Israel and the US have repeatedly stated that they are planning and ready for military options that could include preventive strikes on at least Iran's nuclear facilities and, and that US strikes might cover a much wider range of missile facilities and other targets. A preventive war might trigger a direct military confrontation or conflict in the Gulf with little warning. It might also lead to at least symbolic Iranian missile strikes on US basing facilities, GCC targets or Israel. At the same time, it could lead to much more serious covert and proxy operations in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, the rest of the Gulf, and other areas.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Byran Gold
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Iran almost certainly recognizes that US conventional superiority would give the US and its Gulf allies the upper hand in a serious conventional conflict where they could use the full spectrum of their abilities to attack a range of Iranian military targets. As a result, Iran is linking the steady expansion of its asymmetric forces to new uses of its conventional forces, and is building up its missile and nuclear capabilities, in part to deter retaliation against its use of asymmetric warfare, and in part to pose a major challenge to US and allied conventional superiority If the US is to successfully neutralize this complex mix of threats that can be used in so many different ways and at some many different levels of escalation, it must continuously adapt its forward deployed and power projection forces to deal Iranian efforts to improve its capability conduct a battle of attrition in the Gulf or near it, and deal with contingencies like Iran's use of free floating mines, unattributable attacks, and any other form of asymmetric warfare than threatens friendly Gulf states and the flow of world energy exports from the region. The US, must also work with its Gulf partners and other allies to deter and defend against very different types of conflict and be prepared to face sharp limits on the amount of force it can use. US success depends on building up the capabilities of its strategic partners in the Arab Gulf, as well as improving its cooperation with more traditional partners like Britain and France.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Far too much of the analysis of Iran's search for nuclear weapons treats it in terms of arms control or focuses on the potential threat to Israel. In reality, Iran's mix of asymmetric warfare, conventional warfare, and conventionally armed missile forces have critical weaknesses that make Iran anything but the hegemon of the Gulf. Iran's public focus on Israel also disguises the reality that its primary strategic focus is to deter and intimidate its Gulf neighbors and the United States – not Israel. It has made major progress in creating naval forces for asymmetric warfare and developing naval missiles, but it has very limited air-sea and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (IS) capabilities. It lacks modern conventional land, air, air defense and sea power, has fallen far behind the Arab Gulf states in modern aircraft and ships, and its land forces are filled with obsolete and mediocre weapons that lack maneuver capability and sustainability outside Iran. Iran needs nuclear weapons to offset these facts.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Alexander Wilner
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Iran's potential acquisition of nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction, and Iran's future ability to arm its missiles and aircraft with such weapons, pose s critical risk s that shape every aspect of US, Arab, Israeli and other military competition with Iran . In the near term, they could trigger a major confrontation or war in the Gulf. In the mid to long - term, they could trigger a nuclear arms race in the region, coupled to the search for missile defenses and an accelerated arms race to improve conventional, asymmetric, and proxy forces as well.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Alexander Wilner
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The most threatening form of US and Iranian competition takes place in the military and security arena. The areas where this competition now gets primary attention are the nuclear and missile arena, and Iranian threats to “close the Gulf.” US and Iranian tensions over Iran's nuclear program have grown steadily over the years. They now threaten to reach the crisis point as Iran produces highly enriched uranium and develops all of the technology necessary to produce nuclear weapons, and as US, European, and UN sanctions become steadily stronger.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Oil, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East, United Nations
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Riyadh Declaration, which was issued at the end of the GCC meeting in December 2011, calls for efforts to explore creating a “single unity” that could deal with the many challenges facing the Arab Gulf states.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Robert E. Ebel
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: “The policies of Iran constitute perhaps the single greatest challenge for American security interests in the Middle East, and possibly around the world….” So said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on October 24, 2007. What policies did Secretary Rice have in mind? The combination of terrorism, repression at home, and the pursuit of nuclear weapons technology. Opposition comes from former administration officials as well, who are equally convinced that Iran's desire for nuclear weapons is one of the most urgent issues facing the United States today. And in a report released by the U.S. Department of State on April 30, 2009, Iran was characterized as the “most active state sponsor of terrorism” in the world.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Fred McGoldrick
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: It is hard to know what is more disturbing — Iran's continued defiance of UN Security Council Resolutions ordering Tehran to cease its uranium enrichment activities and to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), or the tour that North Korea recently gave to U.S. scientists of its new uranium enrichment plant. Policymakers fear that these programs will enable these states to produce more fissile materials for nuclear weapons.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Khalid R. Al-Rodhan
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: There is no way to know what strategy Iran will choose in the future, or how the international community will respond. Iran's possible efforts to acquire nuclear weapons are an ongoing test of the entire process of arms control and the ability limit nuclear proliferation. At the same time, they raise critical issues about how Iran might use such weapons and the security of the Gulf region -- an area with more than 60% of the world's proven conventional oil reserves and some 37% of its gas.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East