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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Deal or No Deal: The Case for Diplomacy with Iran Part II - Assuaging Gulf Allies & Bolstering Regional Deterrence

[Update Shortly after the publication of this article, Saudi Arabia announced its intent to acquire 10 MH-60 ASW helicopters.] 

Image 3: US CENTCOM "enduring locations" (bases) construction budget FY 2016-2021.

The concern of G.C.C. (Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates) nations that a nuclear deal between the United States and Iran would compromise their own security is understandable. G.C.C. nations, Saudi Arabia in particular, perceives the US-Iran nuclear deal within the context of the US re-balance to Asia (Cooper, 2015). From the Saudi. perspective, not only is the United States substantially drawing down its long-term presence in the region, but also it is empowering the most significant military, cultural, religious, and political rival in the region. Many G.C.C. nations have clearly shown they view the context of the Saudi-Iran rivalry in a sectarian Sunni-Shia context as Qatar and Saudi Arabia have already provided arms to radical Sunni Islamist groups in Syria to fight Assad's Alawite (Shia sect) regime despite US concerns (Sanger, 2014). Saudi Arabia's leaders already perceive a situation of strategic encirclement as a result of Iran backed Shia proxies operating in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen (Kram & Keath, 2015). In an expression of the extent of dissatisfaction with current US policy, neither Saudi King Salman nor Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa will attend this week's Camp David summit with President Obama. Oman and the UAE will also not send their respective rulers on account of health issues. The concerns of G.C.C. nations are partially based on the official policy of the United States which calls for increased engagement in Asia, but the defacto policy has been doubling down in the Middle East in many respects. 

Over 35,000 US troops will continue to be stationed in CETCOM despite the draw down in Afghanistan. The Navy will increase its forward operating presence from 30 to 40 ships by 2020. The bulk of these forces will be concentrated in Kuwait which hosts 10,000 US troops and Bahrain, the head quarters of the United States Navy's Fifth Fleet. The United States will greatly augment its facilities in the Middle East through 2021 with $3.5 billion in new base construction efforts. Perhaps the greatest showing of US commitment to the Middle East in recent years has been the irreplaceable time spent by Secretary of State John Kerry as well as other Department of State officials in terms of negotiations, consultations, etc. with respect to regional crises, the Iran nuclear deal, and Palestinian statehood. While the United States should continue with the re-balance, it must frequently underscore its resolve to maintain a sizable presence in the region.  In addition to reminding G.C.C. allies of the substantial assets in the region described above, Washington can take numerous steps to assuage the concerns of gulf allies including drafting a written security pact - which would not require authorization from Congress - and new weapons exports. The United States must also recognize the divisions with the G.C.C. while conducting the Camp David summit on May 14th which provides a perfect opportunity to enact the proposals above. 

Image 4: Cyclone-class patrol boats in the Gulf, a total of 10 Cyclone ships are deployed to the 5th fleet. Relative to its size, the Cyclone-class is among the most heavily armed ships in the US Navy with two 25 mm auto-cannons, 40 mm grenade launchers, .50 caliber machine guns, and Griffin missiles. 

As Helene Cooper states in her New York Times article, "White House Looks to Ease Arab Fears Over Iran Nuclear Pact", a formal treaty alliance signed by Congress is unlikely to materialize. The best the Obama Administration can provide is a written security pact which would have loosely defined terms in which the United States would agree to intervene on behalf of G.C.C. nations if they were attacked by an outside power. Such a security agreement would have to balance the potential for internal conflict within many of these nations as well as Congressional concerns over Israel's security (Cooper, 2015). Overall, the concern of ensuring Israel maintains the most dominant military in the region greatly constrains US assistance for G.C.C. nations, especially in terms of arms exports. 

The F-35 fifth generation stealth fighter is consistently ranked as the top arms export item requested by G.C.C. nations but the United States will ultimately be unable to export the aircraft due to Congressional concerns over Israel. It is possible the United States could sign agreements to export the aircraft after Israel takes delivery of its first aircraft three years from now, if this compromise occurs the first F-35 customer in the G.C.C. would likely be the UAE (Cooper, 2015). While the addition of the F-35 would greatly augment the capabilities of US gulf allies, G.C.C. militaries have significant deficiencies - many of which were made glaringly apparent after strikes in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. In general terms, Gulf states have the assets required to deliver ordinance - such as advanced 4th generation fighter aircraft - but lack the enabling assets which are required to both facilitate and sustain operations. While capabilities vary significantly among the six nations, US Gulf allies generally lack anti-submarine warfare, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), and logistics assets. Furthermore, many G.C.C. nations maintain conventional missile forces and anti-ballistic missile (ABM) systems but the United States can work to augment and improve existing capabilities. All of the capabilities above would be highly relevant in a conflict with Iran which has become increasingly dependent upon asymmetric warfare as a means to cope with its comparatively small military budget under international sanctions and its limited domestic arms industry. 

Anti-Submarine Warfare

Image 5: MH-60R with variable depth active sonar for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) missions

Iran has continued to invest in its midget submarine force as a means of threatening US and G.C.C. ships in the Gulf. While each submarine is individually limited in terms of payload and endurance, the comparatively small theater of operations and nearby supporting facilities makes Iran's midget submarine force a credible threat to US and allied naval vessels. North Korea demonstrated the viability of midget submarines by sinking the ROKS Cheonan with a Yono-class submarine; North Korea exported technologies from the Yono-class to Iran which subsequently built the Ghadir-class submarine. Despite the increased threat posed by Iranian midget submarines, no G.C.C. nation currently fields a dedicated ASW patrol aircraft with the exception of the Eurocopter AS332 Super Puma deployed by the Saudi Arabian and UAE Navies in limited numbers. G.C.C. nations must address their lack of ASW capabilities with the addition of aircraft such as the P-3C, P-8, and MH-60R. These aircraft would also provide substantial ISR and maritime surveillance capabilities during peacetime conditions. 

Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance 

Image 6: General Atomics Predator XP, a modified export variant of the existing MQ-1 predator 

Operations by G.C.C nations in Yemen as part of Decisive Storm and operations in Syria have shown Gulf allies are heavily dependent upon US ISR capabilities. Saudi Arabia has been widely criticized for having hit civilian and non-Houthi affiliated targets resulting in high casualties. As part of US intelligence sharing assistance with Saudi Arabia, US advisers have reviewed targets submitted by the Saudis in an effort to reduce civilian casualties but the review process is far from perfect (Maria Abi-Habib & Maria Abi-Habib, 2015). Saudi Arabia and its allies must acquire ISR assets such that they are able to identify and track enemy assets independently in order to reduce the unsustainable burden on US ISR platforms operating in the Middle East:
"'Carlisle noted that the Air Force’s current manning problem is so acute that the service will have to beg the Pentagon to reconsider its demand for 65 drone combat air patrols, or CAPs, as early as April 2015...The Air Force has been forced to raid its schools for drone operators to man the operational squadrons that are flying combat missions over places like Iraq and Syria. As a result, training squadrons—called Formal Training Units (FTU)—are being staffed with less than half the people they need...Overworked drone crews have had their leaves canceled and suffered damage to their careers because they could not attend required professional military education courses. The result is that drone operators are leaving the Air Force in droves. 'Pilot production has been decimated to match the steady demand placed upon the RPA community by keeping ‘all hands’ in the fight,' Carlisle wrote. 'Long-term effects of this continued OPSTEMPO are manifested in declining retention among MQ-1/9 pilots, FTU manning at less than 50%, and enterprise-wide pilot manning hovering at about 84%.'” - Dave Majumdar, 2015 [emphasis added]
To retain the current byzantine and overly restrictive UAV export policy in the midst of severe operational shortfalls by US forces coupled with disproportionately increased demand is, to put mildly, astoundingly shortsighted. A restrictive US UAV export policy does not stop, or even delay, the proliferation of UAVs. Other manufactures have stepped in to fill the void in the international UAV market -  despite the preference among many nations American hardware. Saudi Arabia allegedly acquired the Wing Loong UAV, a Chinese medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAV suspiciously similar to the MQ-1, in 2014. The Predator XP is an ideal candidate for export among G.C.C. nations pending reforms to US arms export policy given the XP's alterations with respect to sensitive technologies. Demand for the Predator XP among US allies in the Middle East is high, King Abdullah of Jordan personally appealed to the Obama Administration to allow exports of the surveillance drone but was refused (Gould, 2015). China has subsequently offered armed UAVs to Jordan. Even a unarmed configuration of the Predator XP would be of great value to US allies in the region given that many of these states have the manned assets required to conduct strikes but desperately lack ISR capabilities. 

Additional Munitions - "Conventional Second Strike" & Bunker Busting Munitions 

The United States could provide G.C.C nations with additional conventional deterrence capabilities in the form of the MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (left) which has a 300 km range and either sub-munition or a 500 lb unitary warhead. The UAE acquired 100 ATACMs, 12 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) launchers, spares, and support equipment in 2014 for $900 million. The UAE's geographic position directly across the narrow strait of Hormuz from Iran enables the 300 km range missiles, which comply with range limitations specified by missile technology control regime guidelines, to effectively target much of Iran's coast. Bahrain, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia could similarly position ATACMs units within range of many of Iran's key facilities. Bahrain and Kuwait already possess either the M270 or HIMARS rocket systems capable of launching ATACMs. HIMARS is particularly advantageous given its ability to be carried by C-130 cargo aircraft which would allow US allies to quickly deploy ATACMs units as needed. Another possible means in which the US can improve Saudi conventional strike capabilities would be if Saudi Arabia continues with its planned purchase of Type 209 submarines from Germany. The Type 209 can accommodate the 150 nautical mile range UGM-84L Harpoon missile which is able to strike both sea and land based targets. As Iran continues to improve its integrated air defense system with either Antey-2500 or S-300 surface to air missiles supplied by Russia, surface to surface missiles will grow in importance as a means of targeting defended sites in the Gulf.

The Obama Administration is considering exporting the 5,000 lb GBU-28 bunker buster to Saudi Arabia as a means of assuaging concerns over Iran's hardened nuclear sites (Taylor, 2015). Israel is currently the only US ally in the region to field the weapon which is capable of penetrating 20 feet of hardened concrete or 100 feet of soil. The GBU-28 would allow Saudi Arabia to target all of Iran's hardened nuclear sites except Fordow which is believed to shelter its uranium enrichment equipment with around 260 feet of hardened rock and reinforced concrete; Saudi Arabia's fleet of F-15S and F-15SA aircraft would be capable of carrying the GBU-28. 

Integrated Anti-Ballistic Missile Shield & Aegis Ashore 

Image 8: THAAD interceptor 

Nearly all G.C.C. nations field sophisticated US built ABM systems such as the Patriot PAC-2 Guidance Enhanced Missile (GEM), Patriot PAC-3, and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. Cumulatively, G.C.C. nations are set to acquire over 1,000 PAC-2 and PAC-3 Patriot missiles as well as 288 THAAD interceptors (Defense industry Daily, 2015). Furthermore, Gulf countries maintain state of the art radars such as the 25,344 transmitter receiver module AN/TPY-2 radar which can track ballistic missiles at high altitudes at ranges up to 1,000 km. Despite the individually capable systems employed by G.C.C. nations, Gulf nations refuse to integrate their systems into a broader and more robust Gulf missile shield:
"'You can’t just buy lots of interceptors and park them in the desert,' said Thomas Karako, a missile defense expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, or CSIS. 'You’ve got to stitch them together into the network and give them plenty of early warning and sensor information so they know where to shoot'...regional politics, military rivalries and even cyber espionage concerns have blocked them from setting up an intertwined missile defense shield akin to what NATO has built and in Europe. There, alliance members have been beefing up missile defenses to protect the continent from long-range Iranian missiles. 'The difference is that you don’t have NATO in the Middle East,' Karako said. 'Really the prerequisite to serious cooperation, to serious interoperability and integration is and always has been the lack of political integration and … security integration like you have with NATO'" - Marcus Weisgerber, 2015
In order to maximize the use of existing interceptors and radars, a networked and highly automated system is required to successfully defeat ballistic missiles from Iran which will have a flight time of roughly 4 minutes against regional targets (Weisgerber, 2015). Given the sensitivity in sharing data among G.C.C. countries, the United States could act as an intermediary by collecting information from G.C.C. ABM sensors and radars in the region and coordinating a response. A somewhat similar agreement exists between South Korea, Japan, and the United States relating to North Korea's missiles and nuclear program; the United States  acts as an intermediary between two parties who were otherwise unwilling to share sensitive data. 

In addition to integration of sensors and existing interceptors, US Gulf allies should consider longer range more capable ABM systems.  The current composition of G.C.C. interceptors relies upon the 25 km range Patriot PAC-3 missile; the comparatively low cost and high capacity four missiles per container  in a Patriot launcher (16 total) makes the PAC-3 ideal for defending military bases or other high priority targets in a limited area but is of little relevance to protecting non-localized targets. Another limitation of the Patriot is it is designed to intercept incoming ballistic missiles in their terminal or final phase of descent within the earth's atmosphere. THAAD is a much  more capable system and enables multiple opportunities for interception by providing exo-atmospheric and endo-atmospheric interception capabilities; THAAD has a maximum range of over 200 km and a maximum altitude of over 150 km (Global Security, 2013). Thus, THAAD batteries stationed in the UAE have the potential to protect US regional forces as well as key sites across the country, 

Image 9: Midcourse and terminal phase of US missile shield. With current technology, boost phase interception is not viable though the United States maintains several sensors capable of tracking missiles through the boost phase such as the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS).

Ideally the US should press G.C.C countries to field larger numbers of longer range and integrated ABM systems such as THAAD and Aegis ashore. The SM-3 utilized in the Aegis ashore system, which will be operationally deployed to Romania later in 2015, will field midcourse interception capable 500 km range SM-3 Block 1A and 1B missiles. In many respects, the SM-3 is the most capable and reliable US ABM system which will continue to receive upgrades which will improve performance against intermediate range and intercontinental ballistic missiles. The Navy's current policy has been to rotate DDG-51 destroyers into the Middle East, Europe, and the Pacific as a means to provide ABM capabilities to US forces in each region. However, the limited vertical launch system  (VLS) capacity of destroyers means that ABM missions detract from other capabilities such as offensive sea control and land attack payloads. The limited VLS capacity for destroyers coupled with increasing combatant commander demand for ABM capabilities, of which 40% the Navy as able to meet in 2014, necessitates a new ABM strategy in consultation with US allies (Bacon, 2015). 
"Today the Navy has thirty-three BMD-capable ships, with plans to increase the number to forty-three ships by 2019. On average, two large surface combatants are continuously deployed in the Mediterranean Sea, Arabian Gulf, and Western Pacific Ocean to provide BMD for partners and allies overseas, which requires at least eighteen CGs or DDGs to support...The Navy should pursue replacing today’s BMD ship stations in the Middle East and Japan with Aegis Ashore to defend fixed locations against known threats. The cost of an Aegis Ashore system is about $750 million whereas a Flight IIa DDG-51 costs about $1.6 billion" - Bryan Clark, 2015
The limited ability of the US Navy to provide regional ABM capabilities will be exacerbated further by sequestration cuts towards eliminating the modernization of five DDG-51 destroyers with ABM capability(LaGrone, 2015). Thus, the Navy will have ever fewer ABM capable ships than planned.

In conclusion, the United States should (1) provide a limited security agreement with the G.C.C. such that the United States could assure Gulf allies of US regional commitment and (2) allow new arms exports to focus towards ameliorating current deficiencies in Gulf militaries such as ASW, ISR, and networked long range ABM systems.  The combination of new arms export and a new formal security agreement would greatly bolster US-G.C.C. deterrence against Iran. 

In addition to Part I: 
  1. Precision Fires Rocket and Missile Systems.
  2. Obama weighs offering Saudi Arabia weapons provided only to Israel, Guy Taylor, 2015.
  3. Iran nuclear sites may be beyond reach of "bunker busters", Michael Ammons, 2012.
  4. Gulf States Requesting ABM-Capable Systems, Defense Industry Daily, 2015.
  5. IDEX 2015: Saudi, Qatari THAAD contracts in the pipeline, Jeremy Binnie, 2015. 
  6. Patriot Fact Sheet, NATO, 2013. 
  7. BMD mission demands outstrip fleet's capabilities, Lance M. Bacon, 2015. 
  8. Navy Again Reduces Scope of Destroyer Modernization, 5 Ships Won’t Receive Any Ballistic Missile Defense Upgrades, Sam LaGrone, 2015. 
  9. SM-3 BMD, in from the Sea: EPAA & Aegis Ashore, Defense Industry Daily, 2015. 
  10. THAAD TMD, Global Security, 2013.
  11. Commanding the Seas: A Plan to Reinvigorate U.S. Navy Surface Warfare, Bryan Clark, 2014. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Deal or No Deal - The Case for Diplomacy with Iran Part I

Image 1: Bushehr nuclear reactor

The ongoing Iranian nuclear negotiations between the P-5+1 powers and Iran has generated a great deal of public debate on the relative merits of the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) framework released in early April. While technical negotiations based on the JPOA are not set to conclude until June 30th - and could certainly fail before then, the United States should seriously consider a final agreement similar to the JPOA as it best promotes US interests relative to its plausible alternatives: re-imposition of sanctions with the intent of trying to negotiate a "better deal" or military strikes against Iran's nuclear infrastructure. The word choice "consider" is appropriate given the final terms have yet to be negotiated. Policies must not be judged in a vacuum, the alternatives to the JPOA are less likely to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. A brief overview of the JPOA details will be provided followed by an analysis of alternatives, the viability of passing a nuclear deal given Congressional interference, and how the United States should proceed if an agreement with Iran can be reached.

The following JPOA details are paraphrased from a Department of State press release
  1. Iran’s stockpile of 10,000 kg of low-enriched uranium (LEU) would be reduced to 300 kg of 3.67 percent LEU for 15 years.
  2. Reduction in Iranian centrifuges from 19,000 IR-1 models to 6,104 for 10 years
  3. Iran’s inventory of 1,000 advanced IR-2 centrifuges would be mothballed and monitored
  4. Iran would not enrich Uranium beyond 3.67 percent for at least 15 years (90% is weapons grade but the time required for uranium enrichment accelerates beyond LEU) 
  5. Iran's will not build additional heavy water reactors and will limit current operations to hinder plutonium enrichment 
  6. Extremely intrusive IAEA monitoring and full access to Iranian nuclear facilities for 25 years and beyond - while not explicitly discussed by the JPOA, robust US signals intelligence would also assist in determining if Iran does not fulfill its obligations 
  7. Phased sanctions relief, P5+1 will be able to re-institute sanctions if Iran caught violating the deal
  8. Iran will remain a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in perpetuity 
The technical details above produce an agreement in which Iran would have a breakout time of one year for the first ten years of the agreement. Thus, even if Iran reneged on its obligations, the technical and scientific limitations of the enrichment process would keep Iran from obtaining weapons grade material for a year vs. the current 2-3 month breakout time. After a period of ten years the breakout time would gradually diminish until finally after 13 years Iran would essentially become a nuclear threshold state similar to Japan. Clearly the prospect of Iran achieving a nuclear threshold status is less than ideal from the perspective of the United States. However, alternative policies solutions will delay Iran's nuclear program to a lesser degree and will ultimately enact much greater costs to the United States. 

Proponents of additional sanctions argue the United States can force Iran to renegotiate a nuclear deal with more favorable terms such as the near complete dismantlement of Iran's nuclear infrastructure. Any new sanctions are likely to build off of the existing sanctions which are largely underpinned by the US dollar's status as the dominant global reserve currency. The dollar is widely recognized as a medium of exchange that is well regulated and stable (Zakaria, 2014). Thus, 87% of all foreign transactions in 2013 were conducted in dollars and more than 60% of all foreign exchange reserves - the amount of cash financial institutions hold to pay foreign obligations - were denominated in dollars (Bank for International Settlements, 2013). Through the Federal Reserve's licensing system, the United States Government can cut foreign countries off from using the dollar which would severely diminish a country's opportunities for international trade. However, new sanctions are unlikely to halt Iran's nuclear program despite enacting massive economic costs on Iran given the outcome of prior negotiations. 
"Between 2003 and 2005, under another practical president, Mohammad Khatami, Iran negotiated with three European Union powers a possible deal to place its nuclear program under constraints and inspections. The chief nuclear negotiator at the time was Hassan Rouhani, now Iran’s president.
Iran proposed to cap its centrifuges at very low levels, keep enrichment levels well below those that could be used for weapons and convert its existing enriched uranium into fuel rods (which could not be put to military use) ...But the talks collapsed because the Bush administration, acting through the British government, vetoed it. It was certain, Jenkins explained, that if the West could 'scare' the Iranians, 'they would give in.'... Harvard University’s Graham Allison, one of the United States’ foremost experts on nuclear issues, pointed out that “by insisting on maximalist demands and rejecting potential agreements, the first of which would have limited Iran to 164 centrifuges, we have seen Iran advance from 10 years away from producing a bomb to only months.” - Fareed Zakaria, 2015 [emphasis added]
As Fareed Zakaria argues, the technology required to enrich uranium is 70 years old. Even with sanctions Iran will generate enough revenue to fund a nuclear program similar to how North Korea has managed to enrich uranium despite intense sustained international pressure. Similarly, military strikes against Iran's nuclear infrastructure is unlikely to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon in the long-term. 

Image 2: Center for International and Strategic Studies (CSIS) graphic with predicted assets required to initiative strikes against Iran's nuclear infrastructure

A strong consensus exists within the national security community that the United States would be capable of conducting successful strikes against Iranian nuclear sites across the country. The strikes would not be swift as the United States would first have to disable Iran's integrated air defense systems (IADS) which include radar sites, air bases, surface to air missile batteries, etc. US forces would then have to utilize bunker busting munitions such as the 30,000 lb GBU-57A/B Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) to destroy hardened enrichment sites such as Fordow and Natanz. ISR assets such as the RQ-170 Sentinel and Northrup Grumman RQ-180 would assess the damage to Iran's facilities and Command and Control assets would determine if further strikes are needed. Finally, US forces would have to eliminate Iran's means of retaliating against US and allied forces in the region which would include conventional ballistic missile facilities, rocket sites, midget submarine bases, etc. The combination of tactical and logistic hurdles required to successfully target dozens of sites across Iran is a task that can only be carried out by the United States military. However, even a massive US operation against Iranian facilities will only delay Iran's nuclear program from between five to ten years at most or less than the JPOA (CSIS, 2012)

The problem lies in the fact that kinetic strikes will destroy Iran's physical nuclear infrastructure but the knowledge required to resume Iran's nuclear program is diffused throughout the country's scientists and university system. Thus, military strikes against Iran are inherently limited in what they can achieve. Furthermore, strikes against Iran would entail debilitating opportunity costs on behalf of the United States as resources from other operational commands - such as PACOM and EUCOM - would be required to both carry out the initial operation and remain in theater for deterrence operations for years afterward. Greater military commitment to the Middle East is definitively not in the interests of the United States. Especially if further involvement would halt the Asia re-balance which is required to safeguard sea lanes which facilitate trillions of dollars in US maritime trade each year, protect five treaty allies - in contrast none of the Gulf Cooperation Council (G.C.C.) countries are covered under formal US defense treaties, and "manage" the rise of China which has the economic and technological potential to pose the most significant long-term great power threat to the United States since the Soviet Union (though its important to recognize the current US-China relationship is a form of "strategic competition" rather than overt enemies like the US & USSR as well as many other caveats). Finally, US strikes against Iran would grant Iranian leaders with a substantial justification for acquiring nuclear weapons in order to deter future US attacks.

In terms of possible Congressional interference, the United States Senate overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan resolution 98-1 which would authorize Congress to hold a vote of disapproval pending the scheduled conclusion of negotiations in June 30th; Senator Tom Cotton (R, Ark.) was the sole dissenter. Given the nature of a vote of disapproval, a total of 34 Senators are required to ensure an Iranian nuclear deal goes into effect given the Presidential veto - a legislative task substantially easier than marshaling 60 votes in favor of the agreement (Berman, 2015).  The bill effectively enables the President to have a plausible chance at reaching a nuclear agreement with Iran now that the threat of Congressional interference has been substantially mitigated.

In summary, a diplomatic solution similar to the proposed JPOA would be the best solution to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon relative to its plausible alternatives. The deal would buy time for renewed diplomacy and some degree of normalization of relations, but its unlikely the deal will enable a broader US-Iran rapprochement (McManus, 2015). Preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is clearly a US strategic priority but additional sanctions and military action is unlikely to delay Iran's nuclear program in the long-term. Once Iran reaches threshold capacity 13 years after signing any potential agreement, a combination of military deterrence and economic incentives would be utilized to keep Iran from fielding nuclear weapons. The ideal outcome for the United States after 13 years is Iran's leaders decide a nuclear threshold state would provide adequate deterrence given that Iran possess the delivery systems and enriched uranium required to field nuclear weapons quickly if needed. Significant work is needed on behalf of the United States to build upon its conventional and nuclear deterrence capabilities in the region to assuage the legitimate concerns of G.C.C. allies which will be discussed later this week in Part II.



  1. Sending a Bunker-Buster Message to Iran,  Michael Makovsky and David Deptula, 2015.
  2. Analyzing the Impact of Preventive Strikes Against Iran’s Nuclear Facilities, Anthony H. Cordesman & Abdullah Toukan, 2012.
  3. U.S. Attack on Iran Would Take Hundreds of Planes, Ships, and Missiles, Noah Shachtman, 2012.
  4. Controversy Continues Over Iran’s Rockets And Weapons, Bill Sweetman, 2015.
  5. Artful Balance Future US Strategy and Force Posture in the Gulf, Bilal Y. Saab & Barry Pavel, 2015 
  6. The Iran Bill Clears the Senate, Russell Berman, 2015. 
  7. The danger of America's 'economic drone', Fareed Zakaria, 2014.
  8. Triennial Central Bank Survey Foreign exchange turnover in April 2013: preliminary global results, Bank for International Settlements, 2013.
  9. Why the Dollar Is Still King, Milton Ezrati, 2015. 
  10. Nuclear deal unlikely to make Iran a docile U.S. partner, Doyle McManus, 2015. 
  11. White House Looks to Ease Arab Fears Over Iran Nuclear Pact, Helene Cooper, 2015.
  12. Iran, Saudi Arabia fighting bloody proxy wars across region, Zeina Karam and Lee Keath, 2015.
  13. Rebel Arms Flow Is Said to Benefit Jihadists in Syria, David E. Sanger, 2012.
  14. Opinions A nuclear deal with Iran is the best option, Fareed Zakaria, 2015. 
  15. Netanyahu enters never-never land, Fareed Zakaria, 2015.