This article examines the historical record of “nuclear rollback” and the motivations for Iran’s apparent pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability in order to identify the broad principles that should guide U.S. and international efforts to resolve the nuclear crisis with Iran.1 The author argues that Iran, like all states, seeks security and respect. For many Iranians, the past three decades provide proof that such security and respect can only be attained with a strategic nuclear deterrent. In 2009, if the United States can show Tehran a genuine path to security and prestige that does not require nuclear weapons, Tehran might give it serious consideration. However, if the United States and the international community fail to address Iran’s legitimate need for security or its desire for international respect, Bowman believes it may only be a matter of time until Iran obtains a nuclear weapons capability.
1Many of this article’s arguments are based on interviews and meetings with more than 200 individuals between July and December of 2007. These interviews were conducted in the United States, as well Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.