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A Series of Unfortunate Events: A Crisis Simulation of a U.S.-Iranian Confrontation

me memo 26 us iran simulation cover imageThe potential for confrontation between the United States and Iran, stemming from ongoing tensions over Iran’s nuclear program and western covert actions intended to delay or degrade it, remains a pressing concern for U.S. policymakers. The Saban Center for Middle East Policy hosted a one-day crisis simulation in September that explored different scenarios should a confrontation occur.

The Saban Center’s new Middle East Memo, A Series of Unfortunate Events: A Crisis Simulation of a U.S.-Iranian Confrontation, authored by senior fellow Kenneth M. Pollack, presents lessons and observations from the exercise.

Key findings include:

• Growing tensions are significantly reducing the “margin of error” between the two sides, increasing the potential for miscalculations to escalate to a conflict between the two countries.

• Should Iran make significant progress in enriching fissile material, both sides would have a powerful incentive to think short-term rather than long-term, in turn reinforcing the propensity for rapid escalation.

• U.S. policymakers must recognize the possibility that Iranian rhetoric about how the Islamic Republic would react in various situations may prove consistent with actual Iranian actions.

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