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"ACA's journal, Arms Control Today, remains the best in the market. Well focused. Solidly researched. Prudent."

– Hans Blix
Former IAEA Director-General
Greg Thielmann

ACA Event - Iran's Nuclear Challenge: Where to Go From Here? Full transcript now available

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Arms Control Association Press Briefing
Thursday, October 22, 2009
9:30 - 11:00 A.M.

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Choate Room
1779 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, DC

For the first time in several years, serious multilateral discussions with Iran over its nuclear program were held on October 1. The outcome of that meeting was an agreement, "in principle" that Iran would send about 80 percent of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium to Russia for further enrichment, and then to France to fashion it into fuel for a safeguarded Iranian reactor. Another meeting is scheduled on October 19 to finalize the details of this arrangement. This tentative progress occurs in the context of revelations regarding a secret Iranian enrichment facility, which the International Atomic Energy Agency will visit for the first time on October 25. At this important juncture, ACA will host a panel of experts on Iran and its nuclear program to explain these developments, what they mean for efforts to address the Iranian nuclear challenge, and how to make progress moving forward.

Paul Pillar, Director of Graduate Studies, Center for Peace and Security Studies, Georgetown University. Pillar served for three decades as an analyst in the U.S. intelligence community, including most recently as the national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000-2005. He will discuss how current developments affect the U.S. intelligence community's assessments on Iran and the likely consequences of a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Greg Thielmann, Senior Fellow, the Arms Control Association. Thielmann was most recently a senior professional staffer of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and previously a U.S. Foreign Service Officer for 25 years, last serving as Director of the Strategic, Proliferation and Military Affairs Office in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. He will address how recent events may impact the timeframe in which Iran could develop a nuclear weapon and the time available for a diplomatic strategy to make progress.

James Dobbins, Director, RAND International Security and Defense Policy Center. In addition to serving in several senior diplomatic posts in the White House and State Department, Dobbins was the U.S. representative to the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan in 2001, which involved negotiating with Iranian officials on establishing the new Afghan government. Bringing his experience in negotiating with Iran, he will weigh in on what the initial talks have accomplished, what to expect from the Iranian negotiators, and where the U.S. diplomatic approach should go from here.

Peter Crail, Nonproliferation Analyst, Arms Control Association, Moderator

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Panelists: Paul Pillar, Greg Thielmann, and James Dobbins

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Greg Thielmann Discusses Iranian Nuclear Program at Cannon Building

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On October 7, 2009, Senior Fellow Greg Thielmann participated in a briefing to congressional staffers and the press on the Iranian nuclear program arranged by Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX). His remarks at the Cannon House Office Building built on his September ACA Threat Assessment Brief, "Is There Time to Prevent an Iranian Nuclear Weapon?" (PDF).

 

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On October 7, 2009, Senior Fellow Greg Thielmann participated in a briefing to congressional staffers and the press on the Iranian nuclear program arranged by Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX). His remarks at the Cannon House Office Building built on his September ACA Threat Assessment Brief, "Is There Time to Prevent an Iranian Nuclear Weapon?" (PDF).  Watch it here.

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Is There Time to Prevent an Iranian Nuclear Weapon?

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September 20, 2009
By Greg Thielmann

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The Obama administration has identified September as a time for reassessing its approach to negotiation with Tehran over Iran's nuclear program. It is imperative that this reassessment is based on a realistic appraisal of Iran's weaponization capabilities and limitations and not fall prey to politically motivated hyperbole. Iran's nuclear program is undeniably bringing that country closer to an ability to construct nuclear weapons-bad news for the region, the United States, and the world. Yet, a nuclear-armed Iran is years, not months, away, which is ample time for negotiating an outcome that prevents Iran from becoming a nuclear-weapon state while strengthening the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

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The Obama administration has identified September as a time for reassessing its approach to negotiation with Tehran over Iran's nuclear program. It is imperative that this reassessment be based on a realistic appraisal of Iran's weaponization capabilities and limitations and not fall prey to politically motivated hyperbole. Iran's nuclear program is undeniably bringing that country closer to an ability to construct nuclear weapons-bad news for the region, the United States, and the world. Yet, a nuclear-armed Iran is years, not months, away, which is ample time for negotiating an outcome that prevents Iran from becoming a nuclear-weapon state while strengthening the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

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Preventive Military Action: The Worst Way to Deal With Iran's Nuclear Program

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June 18, 2009
By Greg Thielmann

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Although the possibility of Iranian nuclear weapons is a major concern for Israel and the United States, leaving the "military option" on the table is counterproductive. Preventive military action by either country against Iran's nuclear facilities would only delay, rather than halt, Tehran's nuclear program, and it would cause Iran to retaliate against the United States as well as Israel. The aftermath of such an attack would be disastrous for the U.S.position in the region-particularly for relations with Israel and with Iraq-and its position in the wider world.

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Although the possibility of Iranian nuclear weapons is a major concern for Israel and the United States, leaving the "military option" on the table is counterproductive. Preventive military action by either country against Iran's nuclear facilities would only delay, rather than halt, Tehran's nuclear program, and it would cause Iran to retaliate against the United States as well as Israel. The aftermath of such an attack would be disastrous for the U.S.position in the region-particularly for relations with Israel and with Iraq-and its position in the wider world.

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Strategic Missile Defense: A Reality Check

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May 21, 2009
By Greg Thielmann

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Strategic Missile Defense offers no real disincentive for rogue regimes such as North Korea or Iran to develop or use ballistic missiles, nor does it offer any protection against the more acute threat of terrorist groups smuggling weapons of mass destruction into the United States. Instead, the aggressive pursuit of strategic missile defense makes it more difficult to constrain the potential offensive nuclear threat from Russia and China.

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Strategic Missile Defense offers no real disincentive for rogue regimes such as North Korea or Iran to develop or use ballistic missiles, nor does it offer any protection against the more acute threat of terrorist groups smuggling weapons of mass destruction into the United States. Instead the aggressive pursuit of strategic missile defense makes it more difficult to constrain the potential offensive nuclear threat from Russia and China.

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To Curtail the Iranian Nuclear Threat, Change Tehran's Threat Perceptions

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April 14, 2009
By Greg Thielmann

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Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology, and possibly nuclear weapons, stems from its complicated threat environment and the historical grievances it harbors concerning the United States. Tehran now faces large numbers of U.S. troops in its neighbors to the west and east with few regional allies. The most productive path for averting nuclear weapons development in Iran is for Washington to seek to alter Iran’s threat perceptions.

Description: 

Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology, and possibly nuclear weapons, stems from its complicated threat environment and the historical grievances it harbors concerning the United States. Tehran now faces large numbers of U.S. troops in its neighbors to the west and east with few regional allies. The most productive path for averting nuclear weapons development in Iran is for Washington to seek to alter Iran’s threat perceptions.

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