The Iran Nuclear Challenge Asian Interests and U.S. Policy by whitecheese



The Iran Nuclear Challenge:
Asian Interests and
U.S. Policy Options
George Perkovich

main argument                                                                                                            c Matthew Winterburn

The U.S. alone cannot stop Tehran from continuing to
expand Iran’s capacity to enrich uranium and, ultimately                             irAn by the nUmberS
perhaps, to produce nuclear weapons. The cooperation of                              Iran’s rich oil resources have become the country’s
the major Asian powers is necessary to cause Iranian leaders                         foreign policy trump card…

to reconsider the costs and benefits of continuing not to                            Iran's petroleum                 2000            2007
comply with IAEA and UN Security Council demands.                                    Total oil production (th
                                                                                                                     3,765.4       4,033.3
policy implications                                                                  Consumption (th bbl/day)        1,248.0       1,739.0*
All major Asian states would oppose U.S. policies of coercive                        Net exports (th bbl/day)        2,517.0       2,294.0*
regime change or military strikes against Iran. This leaves                          * Values are forecast
three basic alternative policies:
•	 Accepting	uranium	enrichment	in	Iran,	under	negotiated	                           …building extensive energy ties to Asia’s oil-thirsty
   limits, conditioned on Iranian steps to reassure Israel
   and other regional states. This option may appeal most                                        Imports from Iran           % total
                                                                                                   (th bbl/day)           consumption
   to Asian states, given that it would reduce prospects of
                                                                                     Japan                 448                  8.6
   further sanctions.
                                                                                     China                 335                  4.4
•	 Acknowledging	 Iran’s	 refusal	 to	 comply	 with	 UN	
                                                                                     India                 302*                11.7
   Security Council demands, withdrawing the positive
                                                                                     * April through August 2006
   inducements that have been offered for Iran to cease
   enrichment, building support among partners for long-
                                                                                     …and fostering greater bilateral trade with states
   term sanctions, and “fortifying” a red line that holds Iran
   to its commitment not to build nuclear weapons.                                   Iran's trade balance with        2000            2007
                                                                                     China ($m)                      1,046.5      4,100.8
•	 Inviting	Iran	to	engage	the	U.S.	on	non-nuclear	issues	in	
                                                                                     India ($m)                        174.6     -1,243.0
   hopes of building the political will later to comply with a
   temporary nuclear suspension.                                                     Indonesia ($m)                    -71.3          -348.1
                                                                                     Japan ($m)                      4,185.8     10,133.1
•	 To	shape	the	environment	for	any	of	these	policies,	the	
                                                                                     Russia ($m)                      -871.2     -2,707.8
   U.S. could work with Asian powers and Iran’s neighbors
   either to create a forum for regional cooperation if Iran
                                                                                     Iran’s defense expenditure has also grown, nearly
   moves to comply with IAEA and UN resolutions or to                                quadrupling since 2000
   coordinate containment if Iran is belligerent.
                                                                                     Iran's defense expenditure       2000            2007
                                                                                     Local currency (bn rials)       21,984       79,871
                                                                                     Constant dollars (2005, $m)      4,731           6,592
                                                                                     % GDP                             3.8            4.6*
                                                                                     * Value is for 2006

George Perkovich is Vice President for Studies–Global Security and Economic          note:   Data compiled by Strategic Asia research staff.
Development and Director of the Nonproliferation Program at the Carnegie Endowment   See data section for full source details.
for International Peace.

To top