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We Must Tolerate a Nuclear Iran

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There is no doubt that a nuclear Iran would be a danger to the United States and its allies. But would the costs of going to war outweigh the costs of tolerating a nuclear Iran?  And is diplomacy without the threat of military force ineffective? 

The Debaters

For the motion

George Perkovich

Vice president for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC.

George is an expert in US foreign policy, non-proliferation, security, global governance, non-governmental actors, India, Iran and Pakistan.Read More

Karim Sadjadpour

International Crisis Group's Iran Analyst

Karim Sadjadpour is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment. He joined Carnegie after four years as the chief Iran analyst at the International... Read More

Sanam Vakil

Assistant Professor of Middle East Studies at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies

Sanam is a former research associate for the Council on Foreign Relations' Iran Project and served as a consultant to the World Bank Group's Middle... Read More

Against the motion

Patrick Clawson

Deputy Director for Research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in Washington, DC.

Patrick's previous positions include five years as senior research professor at the National Defense University's Institute for National Strategic... Read More

Reuel Marc Gerecht

Reuel Marc Gerecht

Senior Fellow, The Foundation for Defense of Democracies & Fmr. CIA Case Officer

Reuel Marc Gerecht is a former case officer for the CIA, where he served as a Middle Eastern targets officer with the CIA's directorate of operations... Read More

William Kristol

Editor of the influential Washington-based political magazine, the Weekly Standard

Kristol is widely recognized as one of the nation's leading political analysts and commentators, Kristol regularly appears on Fox News Sunday and... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • In the interest of self-preservation, Iran is unlikely to engage in unprovoked nuclear warfare against the West; thus efforts to subvert a nuclear Iran are more dangerous than tolerating one.
  • Imposing nuclear sanctions on Iran would foster nationalistic sentiment and further challenge diplomatic relations between the Iranian government and the West.  
  • The U.S. does not have the global political capital to force Iran to comply with its demands, and attempts to do so would harm America’s reputation abroad.
Against The Motion
  • Iran has declared its intent to use nuclear weapons for military purposes and poses an immediate threat to its enemies; the U.S. should act before Iran develops a nuclear arsenal and cannot be diplomatically contained.
  • Once developed, Iran’s nuclear program will likely extend to its allies and may lead to a global arms race.
  • Many countries, including Brazil, South Africa and South Korea, have voluntarily given up nuclear weapons development in pursuit of global stability; Iran should do the same.

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