Nonproliferation regime can survive existence of a nuclear Iran
[ Page 86 ]
Assumption #3: A nuclear-armed Iran will destroy the global nonproliferation regime.
There is little doubt that the immediate impact of Iran becoming a member of the nuclear club would represent a setback to global non- proliferation efforts. However, it would be a huge distortion to suggest this single event would cause the collapse of the entire nonproliferation enterprise. By any reasonable historic measure, international nonprolif- eration efforts have been successful. In his third presidential debate with Nixon in 1960, John F. Kennedy predicted that “10, 15, or 20 nations will have a nuclear capacity . . . by the end of the Presidential office in 1964.” Despite this alarming prediction, only 9 nations currently possess a nuclear weapons arsenal (Britain, China, France, Russia, United States, Israel, Pakistan, India, and North Korea). Not a perfect record over the span of more than 50 years, but a substantial record of accomplishment nonetheless. The addition of Iran would not upset this remarkable record.
Since it entered into force in 1970, the Nonproliferation treaty has a remarkable track record at controlling the spread of states with nuclear weapons and has established enduring nonproliferation norms. The advent of nuclear Iran is unlikely to have much of an impact on this success.