According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the hidden Iranian nuclear program starts in 1987. In December 2002, the United States accuses Iran to seek to develop a Weapons of Mass Destruction program and in June 2003, the IAEA reports after inspection of suspect sites that Iran failed to comply with Non Proliferation Treaty. Iran claims that its nuclear program aims at producing civilian nuclear energy, as the article IV of the 1970 Non Proliferation Treaty authorizes, whereas the great powers are concerned about the risks of a hijacking of the civilian technologies in order to produce nuclear weapons. The enrichment process started in the Ispahan facilities could enable Iran to produce up to two atomic bombs per year within a ten years delay. This delay is not certain given that the International Atomic Energy Agency is not allowed to monitor all the Iranian nuclear facilities and given that the amount of equipment bought by Iran on the black market through the Abdul Khan's network remains unknown. There is also the issue of potential parallel nuclear program carried out by the Army or the Revolutionary Guards. In addition, since the first revelations concerning the Iranian nuclear program in 2003, Iran has always hidden some elements while negotiating.
[...] The regime change would imply a preventive military intervention to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, whereas the behaviour change would be acquired through diplomatic pressures to stop Iranian nuclear program with compensations in exchange. The way of doing of the United States in their management of the Iranian crisis is discussed by scholars. Some of them stand for a containment, or carrot and stick policy, policy and even for an engagement policy, given the counter- productive effect of a regime change policy, whereas others advocate regime change, arguing the Iranian weakness. [...]
[...] A weak Iran: the possibility of a military option However, according to K.Katzman, who represents the regime change school, to see Iran as a regional power able to challenge the United States supremacy is misleading. Its military spending in percentage of the GDP is inferior to the ones of its neighbours, despite an increase by 30% in the 2006-2007 budget, and the Iranian GDP only equates 30% of the United States Defense budget. If Iran can be considered as a rising regional power now, it is mainly because the United States have moved the two tools that would have been able to balance this rise, the Taleban and the Saddam Husein's regimes. [...]
[...] The different approaches: behaviour change versus regime change The inefficiency and danger of the ambiguous regime change policy According to the behaviour change school (Dr W.Zaideman, M.Eisenstadt, E;Marks, Dr M.Hoenig), the United Sates is making a mistake by insisting on regime change because it precludes any chance of success of a diplomatic initiative. The thought about a regime change stems in the 1995 crisis about the Iranian-Russian nuclear agreement, when Newt Gingrich called for replacement of the current regime in Iran, which is the only long- range solution that makes any sense.” The break of the 2003 suspension agreement in February 2006 is explainable by the Iranian fear to see the United Nations Security Council take a resolution. [...]
[...] The unfeasibility of the military option A regime change policy would imply to resort to military strikes and then to invade Iran, possibly to support a revolution that would have started as soon as the beginning of the American strikes. According to the behaviour change school, the military option with strike on the nuclear sites would be a bad option. According to Kenneth Pollack, Iran has spread its nuclear activities in 45 sites, including some that are not fully identified, which means that strikes would only slow down the nuclear program instead of stopping it. [...]
[...] If the idea of a regime change were dropped, it could lead to a behaviour change, which means to negotiations on nuclear weapons and finally to a disarmament. In order to favour the dropping of a regime change strategy, the United States has to distinguish the specific and the generic factors of the Iranian nuclear program. In other words, it has to be considered that not every undemocratic Iranian regime will be tempted to develop nuclear weapons if it is granted nuclear energy, and that the current development of a nuclear program stems partly for nationalist pride reasons, and partly from the threat of a regime change. [...]
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