ND Expert: Iran sanctions won’t halt development of weapons

Author: Shannon Chapla

David Cortright

The Obama administration has won the battle to impose new sanctions on Tehran, but it may be losing the war against an Iranian bomb, according to David Cortright, director of policy studies at the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.

“The new measures adopted by the United Nations Security Council will slow Iran’s ability to traffic in arms and weapons technology and, if enforced, might slow the nuclear program, but they will not halt the steady development of weapons capability,” Cortright said. “Nor will they build the cooperation with Tehran that ultimately will be necessary to resolve the dispute. The net result could be a setback to nonproliferation goals.

“This is made more likely by the rejection so far of the Iran-Turkey nuclear fuel swap agreement,” Cortright said. “The new resolution affirms an interest in negotiations and reiterates a previous incentives offer from European states, but it says nothing about the diplomatic option that is currently on the table. By ignoring the fuel deal and pushing ahead with sanctions, Washington may be tossing aside an important opportunity to restrain Iran’s nuclear program.”

Cortright says the proposed nuclear fuel swap would bring immediate security benefits.

“The low-level enriched uranium Iran has pledged to transfer to Turkey would be enough, if re-enriched, to produce one or two nuclear bombs,” Cortright said. “The removal of that fuel would slow Iran’s nuclear development, lower the potential bomb threat to Israel, and ease pressure on Arab states to reconsider their non-nuclear options. The deal also would strengthen the hand of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency in monitoring Iran’s fuel supply and could set a precedent for greater transparency and international control over Iran’s fuel program. Not to accept such a deal seems almost irresponsible.”

A veteran scholar and peace activist, Cortright writes and speaks on nuclear disarmament, economic sanctions and nonmilitary strategies for defeating terrorism. He has served as consultant or advisor to the United Nations, international think tanks, and the foreign ministries of numerous countries. He is the co-author or editor of half a dozen books on U.N. sanctions and the co-author of the just released volume, “Towards Nuclear Zero.”

Media advisory: David Cortright’s comments may be used in whole or in part. He is available for interviews and can be reached at 574-631-8536 or dcortrigh@nd.edu