Countering Proliferation: The Challenge of the Nuclear Rogues
Nuclear proliferation and the actions of nuclear rogue states, in particular Iran and North Korea, continue to pose some of the toughest challenges facing U.S. policymakers. Iran is adding to its stock of enriched uranium and expanding its enrichment capability in the new Fardo underground facility. Additionally, the dialogue between Tehran and the United Nations Security Council Permanent Five plus Germany (the P5+1) remains stalemated, and Israeli leaders suggest the time for military action against Iran’s nuclear program is nearing. Meanwhile, senior U.S. and North Korean nuclear negotiators will soon meet to resume discussions halted by the death of Kim Jong Il, but Pyongyang’s uranium enrichment activities continue to persist without interruption or any monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
On Friday, March 2, Foreign Policy at Brookings hosted a discussion of these critical issues featuring MacArthur Foundation President Robert Gallucci, Brookings Senior Fellows Suzanne Maloney and Jonathan Pollack, and Brookings President Strobe Talbott. Brookings Senior Fellow Steven Pifer, director of the Arms Control Initiative, moderated the discussion.
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The Iranians have a more complex political environment than North Korea. It’s relatively easy for Kim Jong-un to turn on a dime and take advantage of an opportunity; it’s much harder for them to turn on a dime.
Iran, Ms. Maloney noted, reacted relatively calmly to Mr. Trump’s tweet. The country’s leaders, she said, believe that the president is trying to bait them to breach the nuclear deal, which they do not want to do. But his threats are rattling the Iranians, who worry that Mr. Trump’s aides might goad him into a confrontation.
“This is moving quickly,” she said, “and the president has an establishment around him that seems eager for some kind of dust-up with Iran.”