Weapons of Mass Destruction or of mass delusion? To nail or derail
Ambiguity in Iran’s weapon acquisition dynamics exacerbates mistrust, which is the core reason for the present standoff at the negotiating table. In this paper, I elucidate the Iranian military’s capability and intention by delving into the main componential elements of weapon acquisition.
Weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) are not suitable for the Iranian Army, given its non-mechanized nature; its defensive military posture; its current status as a non-nuclear weapon state; and its sufficient conventional preparation to meet its protective security interests. This paper proposes three interlinked policy approaches to resolve the current impasse: (1) utilize Iran’s technological dependency by requiring maximum international supervision of its dual-use but peaceful technology; (2) encourage Iran’s problem-solving role and pacific behaviour by streamlining the current sanctions to avoid harming the Iranian economy as a whole; and (3) consider an alternative, noncoercive policy that respects Iran’s legitimate technological and conventional defensive needs. This non-coercive approach would open the door to collaboration rather than confrontation through a gradual, piecemeal, and reversible policy.
There are five military reasons why weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) are not an appropriate class of weapons for Iran. Careful examination of these reasons may help us to understand Iran’s position on the acquisition of WMDs. First, tactically speaking, Iran is a non-possessor of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons; second, the Iranian Army, because of its low number of armored vehicles and its logistical, communication, and command features, is a non-mechanized army; third, the Iranian Army is organized according to a defensive military posture; fourth, WMDs are not strategically suitable for Iran given its protective security interests; and finally, Iran’s current conventional destructive capability meets the regime’s core protective security interests without WMDs.
These five characteristics support the claim that WMDs are not suitable for the Iranian Army in a regional conflict. A dilemma arises, however, between Iran’s secret pursuit of an enrichment program and the last three decades of discriminatory policies refusing Iran access to modern technology. Such a conflict demonstrates the inherent tension between the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty’s (NPT’s) prohibition on proliferation (see Articles 1 and 2) and its provision of the right to nuclear energy (see Article 4). Ultimately, the boomerang effect of incremental sanctions and prolonged negotiations with the P5+1 may set both sides on a path with unwanted and unwarranted consequences. To avoid this, the P5+1 should strive to better understand the Iranian military’s weapon acquisition dynamics and to approach negotiations with an impartial and sound judgment.
Two main concepts in understanding weapon acquisition are means and ends. These two notions were introduced into the literature of military studies by Carl von Clausewitz. His definition of war as a “real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce…by other means” highlights the importance of military means and their political ends.This definition has been widely adopted by other strategists as well. For example, Liddle Hart defined strategy as “the art of distributing and applying military means to fulfill ends of policy,”and Hedley Bull considered strategy as “shaping means so as to promote ends in any field of conflict.” Barry Posen focuses on the interaction between means and ends instead of on one as the cause of the other. He defines strategy as a “chain of political ends and military means.”Hence weapon acquisition could be considered a political as well as a military instrument to achieve victory in war and to maintain security in peacetime. By this account, the acquisition of WMDs could be understood as the response of a state’s military policies
to these two aims. Accordingly, a state’s decision for weapon acquisition could be examined in terms of means and ends. Means encompass the tactical utility of a weapon in case of a probable war, and ends embody the strategic utility of a weapon during both war and peacetime. These two tactical and strategic concepts of the utility of WMDs are developed in this study to illuminate the appropriateness of WMDs for the Iranian Army.
2. Tactical Utility of WMDs for Iran
On the tactical level, three characteristics can help to determine Iran’s disposition toward the acquisition or rejection of WMDs. The first characteristic is whether the Iranian military currently possesses WMDs capability; the second is whether it has a mechanized army; and the third is whether the Iranian Army has developed an offensive or defensive military posture. This paper postulates that the closer the Iranian government is to possessing WMDs, the more mechanized its army, and the more offensive its military posture, the less likely it will be to reject WMDs.
2.1 IRANIAN WMDS CAPABILITY
To describe a country as a WMDs possessor means that the state has the capability of mass
producing, weaponizing, and applying lethal chemical or biological agents, or nuclear weapon grade material, in war. By this definition, Iran does not possess chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons.
2.1.1 CHEMICAL WEAPONS CAPABILITY
Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Iran and Iraqi-Kurdish citizens in the 1980s, which was not met with serious international opprobrium, provided sufficient reason for Iran to research, produce, and develop lethal chemical agents for military application, at least for the period of the armed conflict. Despite such a volatile history, Iran did sign the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) on January 13, 1993, the first day that it was open for signature, and it ratified the Convention on November 3, 1997. The CWC entered into force for Iran on December 3, 1997.Iran has publicly acknowledged the existence of a chemical weapons program that was developed during the latter stages of the 1980 to 1988 war with Iraq. On ratifying the CWC, Iran opened its facilities to international inspection and confirmed that all its chemical weapons activities had been terminated and the facilities destroyed prior to the treaty’s entry into force. The CWC utilizes three different verification systems: routine
inspection, challenge inspection, and clarification on State declarations. Since 1999 the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has conducted scores of routine inspections in Iran, and to date no state has chosen to activate the challenge inspection provisions against Iran. There is only one report that the United States and Britain called for a challenge inspection to question Iran’s initial declaration,but this was resolved by a clarification from Iran.
Iran’s capability in chemical technology and material originated in old chemical industries, such as the Abadan refinery, the first of its kind in the Middle East. A more recent example is Pars Chlorine, a large factory in the north of Iran, which has the technological capability to produce dual-use chemicals. Pars Chlorine started operation in the city of Tabriz on November 22, 1998, with an export capability of two million U.S. dollars. The factory produces various chemicals, such as liquid chlorine, caustic soda, and chlorine acid, which are mainly used in water chlorination, detergents, paper mills, soap, and glass manufacturing. There is sufficient domestic peaceful use for these products in Iran, and the Iranian general balance of trade does not show a significant change in export or import of chemical agents by which one could deduce that Iran is covering up chemical weapons production.
Iranian pursuit of chemical weapons defence has a long history. Between the years 1955 and 1960, eleven Iranian officers attended U.S. Army chemical and biological weapons (CBW) training courses to prepare for chemical weapons defence, given the probability of a Soviet chemical attack. In April 1988, the Yasa Factory of the National Industries Organization began producing gas masks, initially in limited numbers, and a new area decontamination system known as Deraksh-6 was introduced at the same time.11 These preparations provided Iran with sufficient defensive power against chemical weapon attacks in any future war. Although Iran did develop the know-how for mass production of chemical weapons and is prepared for chemical weapons defence operations, it is not currently in possession of chemical weapons, and is therefore considered a non-possessor in this study.
2.1.2 BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS CAPABILITY
The Central Intelligence Agency believes that “Iran probably has the capability to produce at least small quantities of BW [biological warfare] agents.”The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s (ODNI’s) January 1 to December 31, 2006, report to Congress, addressing Iranian biological warfare programs, stated that “Iran probably has the capability to produce large-quantities of some Biological Warfare (BW) agents for offensive purposes, if it made the decision to do so.”The 2010 ODNI report changed its 2006 assertion, however, assessing that “Iran probably has the capability to produce some biological warfare (BW) agents for offensive purposes, if it made the decision to do so.” This qualified assessment could be interpreted as an indication that “U.S intelligence probably does not have evidence of any current Iranian BW program.”
Allegations made by Iranian opposition groups regarding Iranian biological warfare programs have never been substantiated, but the level of techniques utilized by Iranian institutes speaks for itself. Iran’s high level of technology and experience suggests that, although Iran has not yet realized an offensive biological weapons program, it has the capability should it decide to do so. The fact is that Iran did accede to the Geneva Protocol in 1929 and ratify the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) in 1973, and it has actively participated in all subsequent negotiations to develop the Convention. In 1998 Iran hosted a trial inspection visit of the Razi Institute, the biggest institute of its kind in the country, on behalf of the BTWC.
2.1.3 NUCLEAR WEAPONS CAPABILITY
The issue of Iran’s nuclear weapons capability is more complicated and more sensitive than its chemical and biological capabilities, thus it absorbs a great deal of international diplomatic and academic attention. Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) entered into an agreement for the application of safeguards in connection with the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The agreement was entered into force on May 15, 1974, after being circulated by the IAEA on December 13, 1974.18 The IAEA’s most comprehensive report, however, in November 2011, expressed its “serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.”19 These concerns were not actually new but were rooted in earlier reports confirming Iran’s failure in a number of instances over an extended period of time to meet its obligations under its Safeguards Agreement, with respect to the reporting of nuclear material; its processing and its
use; and the declaration of facilities where such material has been processed and stored. The same controversial 2011 report, however, as well as a few reports in 2012, detracted from the above concerns by conveying that “the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material at the nuclear facilities and LOFs [locations outside of the facilities] declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement.”
Meanwhile, past estimates about when Iran might be able to produce a nuclear weapon have been proven unreliable. In 2011 Director of the IISS Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Programme Mark Fitzpatrick concluded that, if Iran uses all its centrifuges at Natanz for weapons purposes, and if these centrifuges can continue to perform at their maximum output, then “a little over a year and seven months would be required for the first bomb’s worth of HEU [highly-enriched uranium].” Fitzpatrick concluded in an October 2011 report that “[w]e can have high confidence that Iran does not today have a nuclear weapon and that it won’t have one…a year from now,” but he confirmed in the same report that “I have no confidence that Iran won’t have a nuclear weapon two years from now. If they wanted to go for it and if everything went right.”This assessment does not take into account the time needed for the weaponization of the HEU or the gap between a nuclear explosive
device and a deliverable weapon. If we also consider the estimation of outgoing Mossad Director Meir Dagan, that “Iran will not have a nuclear bomb earlier than 2015,”the unreliability of current forecasts would be doubled.
Joseph Cirincione discusses five factors that are drivers or barriers for nuclear proliferation, namely (1) national security enhancement; (2) symbolic value of prestige; (3) domestic politics of three musketeers associating soldier, scientist, and political leadership ; (4) technology to maintain scientific achievements; and (5) economics that is commonly shared by the other four dynamics. Cirincione believes that, of these five dynamics for proliferation, security is the most relevant factor for Iran, given Iran’s peripheral stance that it would have much to gain and little to lose, while the other elements play minor roles. Nuclear weapons are non-prestigious to Iran because Iran has identified itself as being against proliferation in many regional and international conferences, and it has gained much prestige for its anti-proliferation disposition.
Domestically, harmony between military and scientific bureaucrats in exaggerating unsubstantiated security threats and/ or overstating the utilities of nuclear weapons may not be sufficient to convince Iran’s theological leadership, who declared WMDs a religiously forbidden (haraam) class of weapons. Technologically, the case of Iraq proved that developing countries are vulnerable to a “technology-denial strategy.” In fact, the combination of sanctions and UN inspections crippled Iraq’s nuclear project. Nuclear weapons are neither economically reasonable nor could they be substitutes for conventional weapons. Each class of weapons is designed for a particular mission and function, thus a WMD cannot replace conventional weapons, nor can it compensate for any weaknesses in conventional arms.
Finally, could nuclear weapons be an ultimate security guarantor against an existential threat to the Islamic Republic of Iran? Does any existential enmity exist around Iran to threaten its core and principal security interests? The second part of this study examines the background of the enmity and the regional conflicts surrounding Iran. It deduces that, after the fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, there has been no core security threat near Iran that is likely to necessitate the use of WMDs. Thus, a security model could not be applied to gain support for Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. Two classic cases that appear similar to Iran, South Africa during apartheid and Israel, are rejected because the Cold War has ended and the threats surrounding Iran are non-existential.
It is questionable, however, why the Islamic Republic decided to secretly pursue its enrichment program in the mid-1980s, in the middle of the war with Iraq. The Iranian concealment policy and its safeguard failures could be explained on two accounts: (1) technological discriminatory restrains; and (2) Saddam’s WMD preparation. Iran’s decision was in part a response to the explicit technological discrimination envisaged in the Western countries’ policy of refusing Iran technological access, and to the Western countries’ self-assigned role of denying Iran its legal rights under the NPT to access the peaceful uses of nuclear technology. In addition, Iraq’s application of WMD against not only military targets but also civilians during the Iran-Iraq War left Iran with no choice but to engage in preliminary phases of enrichment, far short of a nuclear deterrence, to discourage such
a belligerent enemy from entering into a mutually expensive nuclear arms race. The multifaceted capability of Iraqi preparation for nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons was revealed after Iraq’s first defeat in 1991, but secret reports of its activities were circulated to Iranian services much earlier through Iraqi oppositionists living in Iran during the war. Those reports of Iraqi WMD activities and actual use of chemical weapons substantiated a real threat to Iranian security until the collapse of Saddam’s regime. Hence, mutual understanding between Iran and the IAEA regarding past Iraqi threats, as well as a discussion of technological discriminatory restraints, formed the cornerstone of their agreement in 2003 to initiate corrective measurements to resolve past issues.
The IAEA report on Iran, published August 30, 2012, confirmed that Iran has increased its production of twenty-percent-enriched uranium, and it has doubled the number of centrifuges it has installed (without feeding uranium hexafluoride [UF6] to start working) at the Fordow underground site. It was also revealed, however, that Iran had converted about half of its twentypercent- enriched uranium into fuel plates for a small research reactor in Tehran. Iran’s decision to convert so much of its twenty-percent-enriched uranium into fuel plates makes it very difficult to reconvert the uranium back again to be used in weapons application, and thus moves Iran further away from a weapon capability.
Despite many speculations that Iran is looking for nuclear weapons, the country is a member of the NPT and has repeatedly denied any intention of acquiring nuclear weapons. It has, however, long been involved in developing nuclear technology. Thus, if Iran decides to produce a nuclear explosive device, there is an embryonic capability to do so in a certain period of time, albeit under harsh and risky international, as well as regional, circumstances.
2.2 A MECHANIZED OR NON-MECHANIZED ARMY
The second major characteristic to consider in determining Iran’s disposition toward the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction is whether it has a mechanized or a non-mechanized (infantry-based) army. The infantry-based force differs from the mechanized-based army primarily in terms of size, technological level, and the ability to integrate arms into operations.
Infantry-based forces have some armor, but they rely on dismounted or motorized infantry for the bulk of their combat power. At the most, they conduct set-piece operations, integrating arms at the tactical level. There is a significant change in the outcome of a mass destructive war depending on whether an army is mechanized. Mechanized armies have two advantages over non-mechanized armies in such wars. First, a mechanized army has a greater maneuvering capability and greater speed, which will help to minimize the effects of WMDs in combat. Second, armored vehicles are sealed to be resistant to a WMDs attack’s side-effects, such as nuclear heat and radiation orbiological and chemical contamination.
To define an army as mechanized, the percentage of armored vehicles could be considered a crucial element. According to U.S. military authorities, “Mechanized-based armies normally mount at least 40 percent of their ground forces in armored vehicles”.
Thus, one way to assess whether an army is mechanized or non-mechanized is to divide the total active military personnel of the army by the number of its armored vehicles to determine the quantitative ratio of the personnel to the mechanized power of the army. The bigger this number, the less mechanized an army.
With 523,000 active military personnel, Iran has the most populous army of the Persian Gulf region. But this large manpower is not matched by a proportionate number of armored vehicles. The total number of military armored vehicles in the Iranian Army, according to the Military Balance for 2011, is approximately 2,978.Thus, there are only 5.7 armored vehicles for every 1,000 active military personnel (including the army, navy and air force). This ratio is 27.6 per 1,000 for Saudi Arabia and 81.5 per 1,000 for Israel. Table 2 shows the ratios across the Persian Gulf.
Iranian efforts to build up a mechanized army have made slow progress since the end of the war with Iraq given financial problems, foreign restrictions, and above all, the state’s lack of an urgent objective to enlarge the mechanized echelon of the army.
Still, it is not sufficient to count main battle tanks and armored personnel carriers to judge whether an army is mechanized. At least two qualitative elements should be added to the quantitative analysis: (1) the power of mobilization or maneuverability; and (2) organizational coordination.In determining the mobilization power of a mechanized army, logistics can produce qualitative improvements in military effectiveness. The organizational effectiveness of an army can be explained as the coordination between the different arms of a force, not only between ground forces, but also between the army, the air force, and other participants in an operation.
The qualitative shortfall of the Iranian Army to provide a professional mechanized force could be traced to its logistical and coordination problems, which have historic and social roots. Iran’s modern army is almost eighty-five years old, and its official formation dates back to the first conscript army in 1926, which came after a controversial approval by the parliament under the direct influence and insistence of Reza Shah Pahlavi. The logistical problems of the Iranian Army did not begin with the revolution. Two determinant factors were in place before 1979, and they have not yet been resolved. The first is the diversification of military purchases, and the second is the lack of a united military command, even at the regional level. By 1979 Iran had military procurement contracts with thirty-three nations. It is almost impossible to prepare the logistics necessary for such a diversified army in a war for an extended period of time.
Even before 1979, the Iranian Army’s lack of unified command was represented in its regional divisions’ separate operational and logistics commands. Although regionally organized, military units were not concentrated, and their operational and logistics commands reported separately to Tehran. The political reasoning behind these military decisions was to avoid a power base that might attempt a coup. This prevented military divisions from achieving rapid action and organizational mobilization, and thus loosened the basic infrastructure necessary for the operation of a mechanized army.
Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, another military division has grown: the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), or Sepah Pasdaran Enghelab Islami. The IRGC competes with the national army in terms of allocation of resources and loyalty to the regime. In 2005 a new doctrine was introduced to the Iranian Army, namely the mosaic defense, which was designed to overhaul the command-and-control structure of the IRGC’s land forces, increasing their independence and flexibility in responding to local events. This new doctrine, while helpful in defensive operations, may not succeed in offensive operations, because of both insufficient power projection capability and institutional and bureaucratic differentiations between the IRGC and the regular national army. The duality in the armies of one state decreases the effectiveness of the whole army and divides material units, command, and communication into two groups of independent, parallel players. Therefore, because of its low number of armored vehicles; its thin logistical preparation; and its lack of effective communication, control, command, and military coordination to sustain a massive offensive operation, the Iranian Army is non-mechanized.
2.3 MILITARY POSTURE
Finally, the importance of WMDs for an army can be determined by its military posture. WMDs are primarily used as offensive weapons because of their surprise effect. They are, therefore, well suited to an army with an offensive military posture. Each military posture necessitates specific, measurable preparations and capabilities. A country with a defensive military posture does not want to start a WMDs war because it would not be prepared for such a war. In broad terms, a state’s military posture includes force structure and operational strategy, and it can be determined by examining four factors: geography, military technology, economy, and politics. The Iranian military posture is defensive in each of these regards.
Geographical conditions compose the strategic depth of a state. Iran, with over 75 million inhabitants populated across 1.64 million square kilometers of uneven land, has enough natural and human resources that its national security could be better served by resorting to a defensive military posture.
Technological improvements and their military usage can result in the destruction of enemies at much greater distances and with much greater accuracy. Information technology, particularly in satellite command and control, could diminish the strategic value of land. Any such decreases could increase the probability of preemptive, and thus offensive, considerations in the military posture of a state. Yet modern military equipment and its related technology are imported commodities in Iran. The Western boycott of military technology and equipment to Iran has diminished its technological improvements, particularly in the high-tech military industry and modern warfare. These restrains have pushed Iran’s military thinkers to rely on their own capabilities, which were modest at best during wartime and highly protracted afterward. This is particularly true with regard to more complicated technologies. Achievements have primarily been in less complicated weapon systems, such as small arms and light weapons, mortars, ammunitions, and light army personnel carriers. According to The Military Balance, “neither the IRGC nor Artesh (national army) is sufficiently well organized, equipped or trained to conduct sustained battle beyond Iran’s borders.”
Economic conditions can also act as a barrier to an offensive military posture, given the cost of keeping a military force in an alert position. Offensive forces, in comparison with defensive ones, should be greater in number and have better training and equipment to perform successful operations, which makes the whole process an expensive one. Thus, financial problems may motivate a state to take a defensive military posture. Comprehensive sanctions by the UN Security Council and even more severe unilateral sanctions by the United States and the European Union, which most recently extended to the financial transactions of the Central Bank of Iran, have highly affected Iran’s economy, to the extent that the country cannot even realize the benefits from its high rate of oil exports and the surplus made in relation to its imports. The high percentage of the annual inflation rate, in addition to economic stagnation and diminishing economic growth from 7.5 percent in 2002 to 5.1 percent in 2004 and 1.8 percent in 2009, in the face of ever rising oil prices, has held the whole economy of Iran in a futile situation. Therefore, economic problems motivate Iran to take a defensive military posture.
Finally, political circumstances, which compel a country to take an offensive or a defensive military posture, have both internal and external origins. Internally, they could involve the revolutionary, ideological, and hegemonic expectations that a state promotes. External political conditions are based on the level of uncertainty a state is suffering from with regard to its surrounding neighbors or the international system. Internally, more than three decades of revolutionary life, hard economic conditions afterward, and internal factional rivalry, particularly after the 2009 presidential election, have led to restraint in the idea of exporting the Islamic Revolution. Iran’s revolutionary and ideological self-expectations are now practically limited to its national boundaries.
It is arguable that Iranian support for the Shiite Hezbollah and Sunni Hamas groups against Israeli occupational forces represents an offensive military posture beyond Iranian borders. This support, however, demonstrates a religious commitment, and it is more support for a global Islamic idea than for an Iranian ideological policymaking that could instigate Israeli antagonism. The fact that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the second largest intergovernmental organization after the United Nations, with membership from fifty-sevenstates spread over four continents, was established in 1969, only after the arson of al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem, speaks for itself.42 The majority of resolutions approved by this organization are about Palestine. Each year, the OIC special committee of Palestine confirms all the resolutions in three areas: (1) the “question of Palestine”; (2) “AlQuds” (the Arabic term for Jerusalem); and (3) the “Arab-Israeli conflict” adopted by the Islamic conferences and AlQuds Committee. It also reaffirms the centrality of Palestine’s cause for the whole Islamic community (literally named as Ummah). Beyond any ideological difficulty, the fact that Iran does not share a border with Israel changes the nature of their hostility into a proxy war at most, far from their core security interests.
After the occupation of Iraq and the formation of a new, friendly government with a Shiite majority in power, the major threat of Iraq to Iran has been sharply diminished. The U.S. presence at both the eastern and western borders of Iran could be considered a new threat, of course, but this is a temporary situation that will change over time. In addition, both Iran and the United States share the interest of keeping current administrations in Iraq and Afghanistan stable, under their influence, and working properly—at least until they have better alternatives. Iran, therefore, has no pressing reasons to feel that its national security is threatened by its current neighbors.
Iran is unwilling to use WMDs as a strategic deterrent because this would entail costs similar to an offensive doctrine, including heavy costs for preliminary requirements, extensive material preparations, and participation in arms races,. It would also go beyond Iran’s natural position, which is based on denying any war objectives against its core security interests. While offensive doctrine aims to disarm an adversary by destroying its armed forces, defensive doctrine sets its sights on denying an adversary’s probable war objectives. Deterrent doctrine aims to punish an aggressor and to raise their costs without reducing one’s own, thus encompassing the main characteristics of “denial” and “retaliation” of both defensive and offensive doctrines.As a result, a deterrent doctrine is considered to have the same effect and to need the same preparations as an offensive doctrine. Offensive and deterrent doctrines increase the probability and intensity of arm races because they create the logic of a preemptive attack.Defensive doctrine, by contrast, produces fewer such destabilizing effects. Iran would therefore be better off with a defensive military posture.
3. The Strategic Utility of WMDs for Iran
The strategic utility of WMDs is not in the military field, but against urban-industrial centers to trigger a collapse on the enemy’s “home front.”Thus, the strategic utility of WMDs could be analyzed in two specific ways: the preparation for a mass destructive capability, and the core aggressive or protective security interests that could lead to such massive destruction. It is postulated that, to the extent that Iran’s mass destructive power is based more on WMDs than on conventional weapons, and to the extent that its core security interests are more aggressive than protective, it is less likely to abandon its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. Thus, Iran’s mass destructive capability could be analyzed based on its preparation for applying WMDs or on its conventional substitutions. These conventional substitutions could utilize high-explosive ammunition, and their delivery systems could consist of ballistic missiles and air strategic bombers. The next step is to study the background of enmity in the region to determine whether Iran is likely to require weapons of mass destruction to advance a core security interest. The background of enmity involves the history of regional conflicts, which affect the national security of a state. Core security interests can be classified as protective or aggressive. Protective security interests are those national security issues that must be protected to avoid a core security threat to the state (e.g., the territorial integrity of a state). Aggressive security interests are those that can push a state to threaten a core security interest of another state.
3.1 IRAN’S CONVENTIONAL MASS DESTRUCTIVE CAPABILITY
Conventional high-explosive ammunitions could be considered to have massive destructive capabilities when delivered to crowded urban areas. Thus, the analysis of Iranian conventional mass destructive capability includes ballistic missiles and combat aircraft. Iran has a number of mediumand short-range ballistic missiles. The short-range ballistic missiles are mostly developed internally. More important to this study is Iran’s improving medium-range missile capability, which includes Scud B and C; Shahab 1, 2, and 3; Ghadr 1; and Sejjil 2 missiles. The Military Balance reported in 2005, and again in 2011, that Iran has about 18 Scud B/C launchers, with 200 to 300 surface-tosurface Scud B/C missiles; and 30 CSS-8 launchers, with 175 tactical missiles.Scud B missiles, particularly the North Korean made, have a 320 to 340 kilometer (km) range and a 1,000 kilogram (kg) payload. Scud C with a half payload has a 500 to 600 km range.
Shahab is a liquid propellant missile system that was indigenously developed. Shahab 1 and 2 are reverse-engineered copies of Scud B and Scud C. They are therefore included in the above estimate of Iran’s Scud missiles inventory. Shahab 3 is a modified No-dong North Korean system with a 1,300–1,500 km range and 760–1,100 kg warhead, and Iran is likely capable of deploying a single battalion consisting of 6 launchers and 24 missiles in the field. Therefore, as Gary Samore confirmed, it seems that Iran has established a technologically advanced ballistic missile program, which suggests that Iran intends to rely on missiles as long-range strike capabilities. Two other long-range missiles under development by Iran are Ghadr 1 and Sejjil 2, which are supposed to be launched by the same 6 launchers as the Shahab 3. The Sejjile 2, with a 2,200 to 2,400 km range, is the longest range solid-fuel missile under development. Despite success in its flight test, the Sejjile 2 is still a couple of years and several tests away from becoming operational. From a military perspective, the utility of Iran’s missile strike would be severely limited by its poor accuracy; hence, without a high casualty rate, it could not be applied against critical military activities in the field, or even against the enemy’s cities and economic industrial complexes. It is thus questionable why Iran has developed its ballistic missile program to such an extent, given that it is too inaccurate to use effectively with any conventional explosives.
The Iranian missile program has a history that makes it a legitimate conventional program, despite its shortcomings and unreliability as a system. Historically, the Iranian missile program is a remnant of two events during the 1980–88 war: the Iraqi use of Scud missiles against Iranian cities; and the U.S. military arms embargo. First, the Iranian air defense establishment had the ability to intercept planes and siren their imminent attack to the cities; long range-missiles, however, could escape short range interception. Hence, during the war, missiles had an effect like a surprise, large-scale terrorist attack against the Iranian home front. Second, the existing U.S. arms embargo on complicated arms, including U.S. fighter jets and long-range missiles, left Iran empty handed and unable to respond in kind to the Iraqi missile attack. The Iranian indigenous missile industry was therefore established in response to a real threat in kind from Iraq. Although the program was formed only later in the war, and in much more limited scope and numbers than Iraq’s program, the continuation of the U.S. ban on Iranian military imports provided enough reasons to continue its development.
Another point to consider is the crosswise gap between Iran’s furthest points in the northwest and the southeast, which is longer than the range of any Iranian missiles. Iran’s diagonal distance from the Azerbaijan Province in the northwest to the Sisstan Province in the southeast is approximately 2,333 km. Such a long distance could provide a militarily convincing reason, based on defensive rationality, for the high range of Iran’s missile capability.
Combat aircraft, which are normally equipped to deliver ordnance in air-to-air or air-to-surface operations, include Fighter Aircraft (FTR) and Fighter Ground Attack (FGA). FTR is specified for aerial, while FGA is a dual-capable aircraft fighter, reconnaissance, and even bomber. Thus, FGA is more suitable for mass destruction. Iran has 108 FGA, including 65 F-4D/ E Phantom II; 30 Su-24MK; 7 Su-25K; and 10 Mirage F-1E (including former Iraqi fighters); and up to 3 Saegheh indigenously developed FGA. A long-range bomber must have an unrefueled radius of action of greater than 5,000 km; medium range, 1,000-5,000 km; and short-range, less than 1,000 km. Light bombers are those with a payload of under 10,000 kg. By this definition, all Iranian bombers can be classified as short-range light bombers. Iran therefore has a limited number of missiles with a range of up to 600 km, and a few more missiles with a range of up to 1,300 km; it also has short range aircraft bombers with less than a 1,000 km combat radius, which gives it a limited capacity for conventional mass destruction. Thus, the Iranian Army could be considered regionally to have a limited massive destructive capability, given its conventional capability.
3.2 IRAN’S CORE SECURITY INTERESTS AND THE HISTORY OF REGIONAL ENMITY
Does a major enough threat or background of enmity exist between Iran and its rival neighbors to accelerate the probability of the use of weapons of mass destruction? The background of enmity in the region should be assessed to explain the regional conflicts that could have an effect on the national security of Iran. As many experts have observed, Iran’s security environment has improved dramatically over the past decade, with the neutralization of its two greatest external threats: Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist regime in Iraq; and the Taliban in Afghanistan.The elimination of Tehran’s traditional security threats does not mean that Iran has stable relationships with its neighbors across the board, but they have not yet threatened its homeland and core national security interests. In the meantime, there are other possible reasons why Iran would be in need of a strategic deterrent as a basic insurance policy, including variables such as the presence of U.S. forces on both Iran’s western and eastern borders, representing a hostile and nuclear-armed superpower; a history of enmity with neighboring Iraq, which has harbored ambitions of nuclear WMD attacks in the region; and the surrounding presence of other nuclear-armed states, including Russia and Pakistan.
Although the presence of U.S. military forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Persian Gulf presents new challenges, it has a temporary nature and is not threatening to the territorial integrity of Iran. The professional behavior of the Iranian and U.S. Navies in the Persian Gulf over the last two decades exemplifies the possibility of harmony and even cooperation in harsh situations such as fighting piracy and responding to natural sea disasters.
Other than the two World Wars, Iran has faced a military threat to its national security only twice during the twentieth century, namely the Soviet occupation of the north-western part of the Iranian Azerbaijan Province; and the war with Iraq. In the first incident, Soviet troops supported the call for the separation and independence of Iranian Azerbaijan and its unification with the Republic of the Soviet Azerbaijan in the aftermath of World War II . Although this was solved diplomatically, the incident left a legacy of ambition for the unification of a greater Azerbaijan that would include several Iranian provinces and one of the Soviet republics in the region. Following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Iran has developed good relationships with the three new republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan in bilateral as well as regional agreements, such as the Economic Cooperation Organization. In addition, the political and military weaknesses of these republics, along with the cooperative bilateral relationship between Iran and Russia, prevent these newly emerged states—Azerbaijan in particular—from making any boundary claims against Iran. Moreover, Iran plays a balancer role in relation to these republics, maintaining peace and preventing one from gaining superiority over the others.
The second threat was the Iraq-Iran border disputes and clashes. Iraqi claims over the boundary river of Arvand, or Shatt al-Arab, have led to fighting between the two countries on three occasions. There were two minor conflicts before the Islamic Revolution and one major war from 1980 to 1988. The two minor conflicts concluded with the Algeria Agreement in 1975, and the major one ended after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. The U.S. occupation of Iraq in 2003, which led to the removal of Iraq’s anti-Iran Ba’athist regime and the instatement of a friendly regime with a majority Shiite sector in power, further reduced Iraq’s threat to Iran.
Two other threats to the national security of Iran are: (1) Iran’s rivalry with Pakistan over Afghanistan; and (2) its dispute with Sharjah, one of the seven Sheikhdoms of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), regarding the sovereignty of Iran over three islands in the Persian Gulf. The difficult situation in Afghanistan involves not only the remnants of Taliban and al-Qaida, but also narcotics and well-organized gangs. Illegal operations have already corrupted part of the Afghan administration, particularly in the provinces farthest from Kabul. It is estimated that about 2,000 illegal armed groups operate throughout the country.They are heavily engaged in the narcotics trade, which threatens the security and the stability of Afghan society and of its neighbors—Iran in particular—to the extent that “criminality is probably a more serious threat than terrorism.”
The rivalry between Iran and Pakistan in Afghanistan has not been a core security threat for either country, more closely resembling a proxy war far removed from the heartlands of the two countries. Traditionally, Iran has sympathized with the Shiite minority, Tajikistan has supported the Tajik minority, and Pakistan has supported the Sunni Pashtoon minority. In the meantime, the gradual reduction of U.S. and European NATO troops, and their replacement with the Afghan National Army, diminishes the U.S. threat to Iran, while increasing Iran’s responsibility as a major player in the security of the region. Since the defeat of the Taliban, Iran has actively participated in the reconstruction process of Afghanistan, and it is among the biggest donors. By contrast, Pakistan has lost the majority of its influence. The nature of threat coming from Afghanistan has therefore witnessed a major shift from military-political to a softer social threat.
The acquisition of nuclear weapons is not, in fact, a matter of national security for Iran. “Nuclear weapons for Iran are not critically vital as they are for Pakistan in relation to its more populous and stronger rival, India, or for India in relation to China and their rival global context.” With the destruction of the Iraqi mass destructive capability, Iran is left with no rivals among its neighbours that possess a similar capability, with the exception of Pakistan. Pakistan is not considered a critical threat, however, because of Iran’s support for Pakistan in its dispute with India over Kashmir, as well as the old and profound friendly relationship between the two countries: Iran was the first country to recognize the independence of Pakistan and to militarily support it during its war with India; and Pakistan in turn supported Iran in its war with Iraq. In addition, there remains a large Shiite minority in Pakistan and, finally, one should not forget that the initial Iranian centrifuge technology and material was imported from Pakistan with the full knowledge of Pakistani military and intelligence.
One more minor dispute between Iran and its neighbors is with Sharjah, but this dispute has already shifted to a regional debate over Iranian sovereignty in the Persian Gulf. Iran followed a bilateral solution for Abu Musa and the two Tonbs, and signed a modus vivendi memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the ruler of Sharjah in 1971 for economic and security cooperation over Abu Musa. The MoU ruled out the possibility of violent actions over Abu Musa by either side in the future. Support by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states for the UAE’s sovereignty over all three islands, however, changed an ordinary bilateral debate into a regional discussion. Iran challenged the GCC support for the UAE by declaring a twelve-mile limit for its territorial water, which placed all three islands within the sovereignty of Iran. These three islands represent a strategic concern for Iran because all of its crude oil is exported through the Persian Gulf and the straits of Hormuz—thus, these islands guarantee the safe passage of Iranian oil to the whole world. No other country on the Persian Gulf is in a similar position. By delivering the responsibility for the security of Abu Musa to Iran in the aftermath of the British evacuation, the MoU of 1971 indirectly recognized sovereignty of Iran over this island. The military presence of Iran in these islands is not a threat to the other Persian Gulf states, given the improbability of war. For all these reasons, Iran’s security interests are protective, not aggressive.
4. Conclusion and Policy Recommendations
Iran is a non-possessor of nuclear weapons and, despite its preparation for defense against chemical weapons and its procurement of the know-how for their mass production, it is also a non-possessor of chemical weapons. Iran has not exploited any offensive biological weapons program, although it has the capability to develop such a program if it so decides. The Iranian Army, because of its low number of armored vehicles, and also its logistical, communication, and command features, in comparison with its rival neighbors, is quantitatively and qualitatively a non-mechanized army organized according to a defensive military posture. In sum, Iran is unlikely to pursue the acquisition of nuclear weapons for the following reasons:
- Iran would not be in a position to integrate WMD systems into its war-fighting doctrine, because Iran has not been preparing for the different aspects of a massive operation utilizing WMDs. Thus, they would not be tactically appropriate in a regional conflict.
- The Iranian Army, because of its low number of armored vehicles and its logistical, communication, and command features, is both quantitatively and qualitatively a non-mechanized army organized according to a defensive military posture.
- Iran’s security interests are protective, not aggressive, and its conventional destructive capability meets its core protective security interests without mass destructive weapons. Iran would not need strategic weapons to coerce adversaries or to pursue aggressive interests, because there are no such compelling interests within the core security interests of Iran.
Why, then, is Iran’s position regarding WMDs frequently distorted? Western countries’ discriminatory export control regimes over the last thirty years could be considered a main tactical explanation for Iran’s ostensible pursuit of mass destructive weapons. Long time regimes of export control and military embargoes, even on conventional weapons, which commenced long before the opening of the Iranian nuclear file, have had a boomerang effect. When added to the current mixture of unilateral, multinational, and international sanctions, it may explain the current stalemate in negotiations, Iran’s lack of trust of the P5+1 negotiation objectives, and the failure of the UN machinery to resolve this issue.
This paper offers three main policy recommendations to help resolve the current impasse in negotiations. First, the non-indigenous nature of the Iranian nuclear industry and its technological dependency on foreign suppliers suggest that possession of dual-use technology and materials is necessary but not sufficient for proliferation. This is because of Iran’s vulnerability to foreign supply for sensitive materials and technology. Thus, this technological dependency, in addition to the strict international supervision that Iran is under (such as the IAEA Safeguards and OPCW inspections), could be utilized interdependently in a balancing approach to manage Iran’s possession of dual use, but reasonably proliferation-free, technology. An intrusive system of tense and thorough observation by the international professional community could help to support this approach. The link between the promotional and regulatory aspects of a multilateral agreement on employing dual use technology may work as a means of crisis management through strict regulation and continuous supervision. It could be much more successful than current incremental sanctions that have entailed crisis augmentation.
Second, the P5+1 and the United States, in particular, should support Iran’s role as a balancer in the region. The non-adversarial and non-ideological nature of Iranian foreign policymaking in relation to its neighboring countries could make Iran a vital player in better stabilizing the region. Iranian behavior in the region shows a history of pacifism and problem solving. Take, for example, Iran’s tacit and indirect cooperation with the United States during the Afghanistan campaign against the Taliban; its calming and controlling of Shiite extremists in Iraq; its role as a middleman between Azerbaijan and Armenia; and its avoidance of radicalization on a range of regional issues, from Chechnya to the Bahrain uprisings. The professional behavior of the Iranian Navy and the U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf over the last two decades is another example of the possibility for harmony and cooperation in the region.
Finally, the current U.S. policies of isolation, threats, sabotage, and sanctions have been applied and have proven to be unsuccessful in curbing the question of the Iranian nuclear file, or even in slowing down Iran’s mastery of nuclear enrichment. As Kenneth Katzman most recently reported to the U.S. Congress, “The principal objective of international sanctions—tocompel Iran to verifiably confine its nuclear program to purely peaceful uses—has not produced that outcome to date”.It is therefore time to rethink the efficiency of the policy of coercion by testing an alternative, non-coercive policy. This includes respecting Iran’s legitimate technological and conventional defensive needs, and streamlining the current sanctions to avoid harming the Iranian economy as a whole, which only weakens and thins the middle class—the key sponsors of temperate policies in Iranian society and body politic—rather than curtailing suspicious nuclear activity in Iran. The non-coercive approach would be an opening to collaboration rather than to confrontation as a gradual, piecemeal, and reversible policy. Not only can it open breathing space for a constructive approach to break
the current stalemate, but by addressing legitimate concerns on both sides, it could initiate a move toward a more stable Persian Gulf through mutual understanding, cooperation, and trust.
 United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), “Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear
Weapons” (New York: UNODA), http://www.un.org/disarmament/WMD/Nuclear/NPTtext.shtml.
 Carl von Clausewitz, On War, Vol. 1, trans. J.J. Graham (London: Kegan Paul, 1911), p. 23.
 Barry Buzan, An Introduction to Strategic Studies: Military Technology and International Relations, (London:Macmillan, 1987), p. 3.
 Ibid., p. 3.
 Barry R. Posen, The Sources of Military Doctrine: France, Britain, and Germany between the World Wars (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1984), p. 25.
 Gary Samore, Iran’s Strategic Weapons Programs: A Net Assessment (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies [IISS], 2005), p. 73.
 British Broadcasting Corporation, Summary of World Broadcasts, weekly report, MEW/0566 WME/, p. 4.
 International Trade Statistic Year Book 2002, Vol. 1(New York: UN Reproduction Section, 2004), pp. 489–493
 Gordon M. Burck and Charles C. Flowerree, International Handbook on Chemical Weapons Proliferation (Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 1991), p. 252.
 Ibid., p. 252.
 “Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions for the Period 1 January to 31 December 2006” (Washington, D.C.: Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 2008), p. 4, http://www.counterwmd.gov/files/Acquisition_Technology_Report_030308.pdf.
 »Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction« and Advanced Conventional Munitions, Covering 1 January to 31 December 2010” (Washington, D.C.: Director
 For a detailed analysis, see Richard F. Pilch and Raymond A. Zilinskas, eds, Encyclopedia of Bioterrorism Defense (Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley-Liss, 2005), pp. 278–280.
 “Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions for the period 1 January to 31 December 2006,” http://www.counterwmd.gov/files/Acquisition_Technology_Report_030308.pdf.
iaea.org/newscenter/focus/iaeairan/index.shtml. See also Bruno Pellaud, Negotiating with Iran: Testing Alternative Approaches, in Joachim Krause, ed., Iran’s Nuclear Programme: Strategic Implications (New York: Routledge, 2012), pp. 53–81.
 See the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), “The Text of the Agreement between Iran and the Agency for the Application of Safeguards in Connection with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons,” INFCIRC/214 (Vienna: IAEA, December 1973), http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Infcircs/Others/infcirc214.pdf.
 See IAEA, “Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council
resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” report by the director general of the IAEA to the boards of governors, GOV/2011/65 (Vienna: IAEA, November 8, 2011), par. 53,
 See ibid., par. 52.
 “Weapons Proliferation in the New World Order,” 102nd Congress, 2nd sess., January 1992, which concluded that Iran would have the bomb by 2000. Cited in Joseph Cirincione, Jon B.Wolfsthal, and Miriam Rajkumar, Deadly Arsenals, Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Threats, 2nd ed. (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2005), pp. 295, 308.
 Mark Fitzpatrick, Iran’s Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Capabilities: A Net Assessment, Executive Summary (London: IISS, February 3, 2011), http://www.iiss.org/publications/strategic-dossiers/irans-nuclear-chemical-andbiological-capabilities/.
 Ibid., Iran Nuclear Brief (London: The Arms Control Association, IISS, October 3, 2011), p.1.
 In his retirement speech to the Israeli Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee on January 7, 2011,
Mossad Chief Meir Dagan stated that Iran would not be able to produce a viable nuclear weapon before 2015. He elaborated that Iran is still far from being capable of producing nuclear weapons and that a series of malfunctions and failures have set the Iranian nuclear weapons program back by several years. Yossi Melman, “Outgoing Mossad Chief:Iran Won’t Have Nuclear Capability Before 2015,” Haaretz, January 7, 2011, http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/outgoing-mossad-chief-iran-won-t-have-nuclear-capability-before-2015-1.335656.
 Joseph Cirincione, Bomb Scare: The History & Future of Nuclear Weapons (New York: Columbia University
Press, 2007), p. 47.
 “On numerous occasions, the Iranian people and government officials have announced that they do not seek
to develop nuclear weapons and that nuclear weapons have no place among the needs of the nation and the military system of the country. We believe that using nuclear weapons is haraam and prohibited and that it is everybody’s duty to make efforts to protect humanity against this great disaster. We believe that besides nuclear weapons, other types of weapons of mass destruction such as chemical and biological weapons also pose a serious threat to humanity The Iranian nation which is itself a victim of chemical weapons feels more than any other nation the danger that is caused by the production and stockpiling of such weapons and is prepared to make use of all its facilities to counter such threats.” The Center for Preserving and Publishing the Works of Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, “The Supreme Leader’s View of Nuclear Energy,” April 13, 2011, http://english.khamenei.ir//index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1442&Itemid=13.
 Cirincione, Bomb Scare, p. 75.
 Ibid., p. 77.
 See “Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provisions of Security Council Resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” GOV/2012/37 (Vienna: IAEA, August 30, 2012), par. 23–25, 37, http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Board/2012/gov2012-37.pdf.
 Armor- and Mechanized-Based Opposing Force: Organization Guide, Field Manual Headquarters, No. 100-
60 (Washington, D.C.: Department of the Army, July 16, 1997), p. iv, http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/
 Ibid., p. iii.
 IISS, The Military Balance, 2011 (London: IISS, 2011), p. 309.
 Information for this chart extracted from ibid.
 See John Chipman and Sidney Bearman, Strategic Survey, 1995–1996 (London: IISS, 1996), p. 30.
 Stephanie Cronin, “Conscription and Popular Resistance in Iran, 1925–1941,” International Review of Social
History, Vol. 43, No. 3 (December 1998), pp. 451–471, http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayFulltext?type=1&fid=69726&jid=ISH&volumeId=43&issueId=03&aid=69725.
 Richard A. Gabriel, ed., Fighting Armies: Antagonists in the Middle East: A Combat Assessment (London: Greenwood, 1983), p. 99.
 Ibid, pp. 97–99.
 IISS, The Military Balance, 2011, p. 297.
 Ibid, p. 298.
 The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), “Country Report: Iran, March 2005” (London: EIU, 2005), pp. 27, 30. See also World Bank Statistics, “Iran, Islamic Rep. at a Glance” (Washington, D.C.: The World Bank, March 29, 2012), http://devdata.worldbank.org/AAG/irn_aag.pdf.
 Anthony H. Cordesman, Iran’s Developing Military Capabilities, draft report on CD (Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic and International Studies, December 14, 2004), p. 2.
 See Annual Ministerial Sessions reports See also “Report of the Meeting of the OIC Six-Member Committee on Palestine Submitted to the Annual Coordination Meeting of Foreign Ministers of OIC Member States” (New York: United Nations, September 28, 2012), http://www.oic-oci.org/english/conf/fm/acm2012/REP-PALESTINE-ENGLISH.pdf.
 Barry Posen’s definition of offensive, defensive, and deterrent military doctrines may help us to identify the particular task of weapons in each military doctrine. See Posen, The Sources of Military Doctrine, pp. 14–16.
 On the logic of pre-emptive attack in a nuclear war, see: Bruce G. Blair, The Logic of Accidental Nuclear War
 The concept of targeting weapons of mass destruction on urban-industrial centers originates from the development of air power theory in the 1920s and the 1930s and the strategic bombing campaigns of World War II. One of the leading air-power strategists was Giulio Douhet, who believed that bombing could be used directly against an enemy’s industrial, commercial, transportation, and civil population. See Jeffrey Legro, Cooperation under Fire: Anglo-German Restraint During World War II (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1995), p. 100. See also Theo Farrell and Helene Lambert, “Constructing Nuclear Use: Deterrence Norms and International Law in State Practice,” paper presented at the ECPR-ISA Joint Conference, Vienna, Austria, September 16–20, 1998.
 See IISS, The Military Balance, 2004-2005 (London: IISS, 2005), p. 124; and IISS, The Military Balance, 2011, pp. 309–310.
 Martin S. Navias, Going Ballistic: The Build up of Missiles in the Middle East (London: Brassey’s, 1993), pp. 20, 24.
 Samore, Iran’s Strategic Weapons Programs, pp. 89–105.
 IISS, The Military Balance, 2011, p. 310.
 Fitzpatrick, Iran’s Ballistic Missile Capabilities, p. 61.
 Ibid., pp. 132–133.
 See Helen Chapin Metz, ed., “Iran: A Country Study,” December, 1987, http://www.country-data.com/cgi-bin/query/r-6398.html. 54
 IISS, The Military Balance, 2011, p. 311.
 For detailed specification of the combat aircraft, see Gordon M. Burck and Charles C. Flowerree, International Handbook On Chemical Weapons Proliferation (Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 1991), pp. 508–509 table 9.1.
IISS, The Military Balance, 2011, p. 296.
 Isobelle Jaques, Afghanistan: Beyond Bonn (Steyning, U.K.: Wilton Park, May 2005), p.16.
 Ben Smith, Afghanistan Where Are We? Central Asian Series, No. 05/30 (Oxford: Conflict Studies Research
Centre, June 2005), p.18.
 Shahram Chubin, ”Does Iran want Nuclear Weapons?” Survival, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Spring 1995), pp. 89, 93.
 For the details of the Memorandum of Understanding between Iran and Sharjah, see Hooshang Amirahmadi,
Small Islands, Big Politics: The Tonbs and Abu Musa in the Gulf (London: Macmillan, 1996), p.162.
 IISS, Strategic Studies, 1993–1994 (London: IISS, 1994), p. 141.
 Kenneth Katzman, Iran Sanctions, Congressional Research Service (CRS), Report for Congress (Washington,
D.C.: CRS, September 13, 2012), p. 2.
Psychology of Political Power : Does Power Corrupt or is Magnetic to the Most Corruptible?
Last week I attended a conference on ‘Political Power, Morality and Corruption’. A Socratic dialogue with fellow scholars led me back to one question that epistemologically haunts political theory and philosophy to date – Does power corrupt or is magnetic to the most corruptible? The cornerstone that this question posits on is antithetical to the idea of power duality as malefic or benefic. Instead, this problem statement is trying to explore and exact the fundamentals of political power. While the former part of the question is striving to deconstruct the soma of power itself, the latter construct of the question is focussing on the agency of an individual with political power.
Now, if you have read Frank Herbert’s Chapterhouse Dune, Missionaria Protectiva US science fiction novelist (1920 – 1986), he writes, “All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted”. Rather than saying absolute power corrupts absolutely, Herbert reveals a common metaphysical denominator: corruptibility, that fundamentally connects all those with political power. However, his sematic interpretation gives birth to more questions than answers. Suppose we take Herbert’s argument in consideration and assume that the most corruptible are indeed attracted to power. In that case, the global political infrastructure as we know today, is then built on the building block of corruption by its very virtue. For example, the 4th edition of the Global Corruption Index (GCI 2021) covered 196 countries and territories, and provided a comprehensive overview of the state of corruption around the world based on 43 variables. This extensive data revealed that only 52 countries have a low corruption index, with Finland and Norway leading the way. On the other hand, the rest 144 countries are suffering from profane corruption. Using Herbert’s interpretation of power and corruption, should we conclude that political corruption which is about privatization of average citizen and the use of public sphere to promote private interests, is the foundational political infrastructure of these 144 countries? And if this assertion is true, does it mean that every government representative of these 144 countries are fundamentally corrupt? Herbert’s simplistic interpretation of the problem statement creates a moral conundrum of either this or that, rather than exploring the connection between the two variables – power and corruption.
Power does not corrupt. It amplifies and reveals a leader’s predispositioned traits.
For decades, social psychologists were convinced that power corrupts. One of the key demonstrations of this assertion was the classic Stanford Prison Simulation Experiment (Zimbardo, 1971), where volunteers were randomly assigned to play the role of prisoners or prison guards. As the day passed by, it was observed that the students who were given the role of prison guards became sadistic and exercised their power to subjugate prisoners by taking away their clothes and forcing them to sleep on concrete floors. This subduing was absolute barbaric and callous in nature. The results were shocking. However, the Stanford Prison Experiment failed to explore one crucial variable – the behavioural and cognitive pattern of students who willingly participated and were recruited to be a part of ‘study of prison life’. So, Thomas Carnahan and Sam McFarland (2007) conducted an experiment on Revisiting the Stanford Prison Experiment: Could Participant Self-Selection Have Led to the Cruelty?. They wanted to studywhat kind of people participate and are drawn to the likes of Stanford Prison Experiment. The research revealed that “ volunteers for the prison study scored significantly higher on measures of the abuse-related dispositions of aggressiveness, authoritarianism, Machiavellianism, narcissism, and social dominance and lower on empathy and altruism, two qualities inversely related to aggressive abuse”.
What Carnahan and McFarland’s experiment revealed was that power doesn’t corrupt, but it is a phenomenon that is monopolized by the agency of an individual. Power amplifies and exposes cognitive and behavioral predispositions that already exists within you. It merely reveals your innate tendencies, but it does not corrupt. Let’s take another example of a democratic statesman who wants to introduce a new healthcare bill for his people, is unexpectedly confronted with an ethical conundrum – he can either strengthen his political power and wealth by collaborating with pharmaceutical giants and increase the prices of the medicines in concern (demand-supply chain) , or he can metamorphosize his proposed bill into reality and benefit his subjects. What will he do? Since he already has procured political power and is deliberating on actualizing his healthcare bill to empower people, power here has not corrupted him. In fact, the argument that power corrupts collapses because if power indeed corrupts, this democratic statesman would not have proposed a healthcare bill for the welfare of his people to begin with. However, if he decides to enact the bill in favor of pharmaceutical moguls to increase his wealth and political status quo, it would be due to his predispositioned behavioral and cognitive schema for corruptibility. How he responds to this ethical conundrum will mirror his political psyche. It has nothing to do with power being essentially corruptible. Power only amplifies and exposes a leader’s predispositioned traits.
Friedrich Hayek makes a similar point in his chapter ‘Why the worst get on top’ in The Road to Serfdom (1943), where he highlights that individuals who rise to the top in the government are those who want to wield power and those who are most ruthless in using power. He writes, “Neither the government administration of a concentration camp nor the Ministry of Propaganda is suitable places for the exercise of humanitarian feelings. Yet, positions like these create a totalitarian state. So, when a distinguished American economist concludes that the probability of people in power disliking the possession and exercise of power is low, is similar to falsely assuming that the probability of an extremely tender-hearted person to desire a position of an whipping-master in a slave plantation is high.”
Recently, psychologists have re-investigated this phenomenon and theorised that rather than being a corrupting influence, power amplifies leaders’ innate tendencies. For example, extensive research on ‘Leader corruption depends on power and testosterone’ by Bendahan, Zehnder, Pralong and Antonaki used incentivized experimental games to manipulate leaders in power. Here, leaders had complete freedom to decide monthly pay-outs for themselves and their followers. Now, leaders could have made a prosocial decision to benefit the public good. However, they chose to abuse their power by invoking antisocial decisions, which reduced the total pay-outs of their followers but boosted the leaders’ earnings with a high margin. The researchers write, “In Study 1 (N = 478), we found that both amount of followers and discretionary choices independently predicted leader corruption. Study 2 (N = 240) examined how power and individual differences (e.g., personality, hormones) affected leader corruption over time; power interacted with endogenous testosterone in predicting corruption, which was highest when the leader power and baseline testosterone were both high. Honesty predicted initial level of leader’s antisocial decisions; however, honesty did not shield leaders from the corruptive effect of power.”
Concluding with Caligula – The Mad Roman Emperor!
After years of witnessing the most barbaric purges, treason laws, exiles, execution, and corruption of all time during Tiberius’s rule, Caligula (37 – 41 AD) was seen as a breath of fresh air when he took the throne. After going through despondent years of constant fear, Caligula’s initiation was perceived as a hope for a flourishing Roman republic. At first, Caligula lived up to the expectations of the roman people. He brought back many people exiled by Tiberius and ceremoniously burned the records of the infamous Treason Trails held by Sejanus under the order of Tiberius. This act was celebrated and made Caligula popular and well-liked among the Senate. He then took a step further and eliminated unpopular hefty taxes, initiated constructions of harbors that created massive employment opportunities for Roman citizens, and staged lavish events like chariot races, gladiator shows, and theatre plays to entertain his people. He was indeed a breath of fresh air after Tiberius.
But, after seven months of his rule, things changed for the worst. Caligula started to use and abuse his political powers so dauntlessly that it pushed Rome into a dark age of political and economic instability. He went on a rampage of committing murder, adultery, and acts of debauchery. His eccentricities became more murderous, including restating the very Treason Trials that he had ended. Dressed in silk robes and covered in jewels, Caligula pretended he was a god. He made it mandatory for his senators to grovel and kiss his feet and seduced their wives at lavish dinner parties. He wanted his statue to be erected in the temple at Jerusalem, which at the point, would have been highly controversial in a region that was already prone to revolt against the Romans. Luckily, Herod Agrippa, who ruled Palestine then, convinced him not to do so. Additionally, since Caligula was spending vast amount of money on his lavish lifestyle, he emptied Rome’s treasury. To reverse this damage, he started blackmailing roman leaders and senates, and confiscated their properties and wealth.
There is no denying that there was a method to Caligula’s political madness but power didn’t corrupt him. If it did, the first initial seven months of ruling Rome after Tiberius, Roman republic would not have experienced economic, political and culture growth. However, power certainly did amplify and expose his innate characteristics of corruptibility and debauchery. Caligula’s madness of abusing political power and tyrannical reign grew out of control. An assassination plot for structured against him and he was murdered after being stabbed over 30 times by a cabal of Praetorian guards in 41 A.D. This reminds me of what Robert Caro mentioned in his book The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson(2012), “Power always reveals. When a man is climbing, trying to persuade others to give him power, concealment is necessary. But, as soon as the man obtains more power, camouflage becomes less necessary.” To conclude, it is not that the power corrupts or is magnetic to the most corruptible. The truth is – power only reveals who you truly are.
Omicron and Vaccine Nationalism: How Rich Countries Have Contributed to Pandemic’s Longevity
In a global pandemic, “Nobody is safe until everyone is safe”, – it is more of true with respect to the current globalized world system. It is said that crisis strikes the conscience and forces the ‘commonality of purpose’ on one another- and a major one in magnanimous scale. But the current Covid-19 crisis seems to have emerged in oddity with this very axiom, of course, due to self-serving, in WHO’s words- ‘self-defeating’ and ‘immoral’, approaches to dealing the pandemic by wealthy countries.
A new and potentially more transmissible variant of Covid-19 virus, named Omicron by WHO, has been detected in South Africa. With scientists yet to be confirmed about new variant’s epicenter and its likely implication on human immune system, the emergence of Omicron has brought the long-warned case of ‘vaccine nationalism’– a phenomenon in which each nation prioritizes securing ample doses without considering impact on poor ones- to light.
Unheeded to the repeated warnings by scientists and pandemic specialists, many of the world’s richest countries had embarked on a vaccine-acquisition frenzy and hoarded jabs more than their requirements. Some countries have even gone to the extent that they had acquired up to four times what their population needed. Thereby, it has left majority of poor and developing countries, particularly those in global south, unvaccinated, with further risk of the virus being muted into more virulent variants, as in the case of Omicron.
A simple numerical data over vaccination rate across the world exposes the grotesques picture of pandemic recovery divide among the countries and immoral hoarding and hedging efforts on vaccine supplies by wealthy countries. As of now, whereas only 3% of people in low income countries have fully been vaccinated, the figure exceeds 60% in both high-income and upper-middle –income countries. In Africa, the most under-vaccinated and the epicenter of ominous Omicron, only some 7% of its 1.3 billion people are fully immunized.
Given the 9.1bn vaccines already manufactured and 12bn expected by the end of this year, the question is- why does vaccination effort remain so discriminatory and dividing across the regions? The answer, in most part, lies in the ‘pervasive economic inequity’ inherent in initial vaccine-acquisition process. With their enormous capacity to pay out, rich countries, even before pandemic took devastating hold, had pursued a ‘portfolio-approach’ in investing on vaccine development research by pharmaceutical companies- simultaneous investment on multiple ones. In exchange, those countries stroke bilateral deal with each drag company to secure enough prospective vaccine doses to inoculate their respective population several times over.
This absolutist vaccine-acquisition drive of wealthy nations had substantially thwarted the holistic approach taken up by World Health Organization(WHO) under the platform of COVAX, a vaccine sharing program. With the aim of reducing the delay in vaccine allocation to poor and developing countries, and thus ensuring vaccine equity, the multilateral platform didn’t get enough incentives from wealthy ones, since started its journey in April 2020. Both investment and acquisition by well-off countries, having bypassed the COVAX, kept them into the front of manufacturing line, thereby, contributed to the distributional injustice.
‘What starts wrong ends wrong’- initial absolutist approaches in vaccine acquisition started to be manifested in discriminatory distribution of vaccines. Thereby, an amazing scientific breakthrough, development of vaccine in record time, has been offset by awful political policy. In mid-2021, when one portion of world were almost on the track of carefree normalcy, people in bigger portion were struggling to breath. Today, problem is not in production of vaccines, as 2 billion doses of vaccines are being manufactured in every month, rather in the ‘unfairness of distribution’.
Early monopolistic exercise by G20 on acquisition and subsequent stockpile of vaccines has resulted in such galling situation that they have commandeered over 89% of vaccines already produced and over 71% of future deliveries. Consequently, the global inoculation drive, since started, is so unjust that for every vaccine delivered to the poorest countries, six times as many doses are being administered as third and booster vaccines in the richest countries. Adding further to the crisis being escalated, while more than 100 countries, for past one year, have desperately demanded emergency waiver on TRIPs related regulatory restriction on Technologies crucial to pandemic recovery, it has repeatedly been blocked by UK and EU.
Picture is not all-about gloomy with respect to vaccine collaboration but it is quite tiny to the scale of requirements. Rich countries could not deliver on the commitments they did to help poor countries immunize their population. For instance, WHO’s target of having 40% of global population vaccinated by end of this year, through COVAX, seems certainly to fall short largely due to the rich countries failing to deliver on their promise to use their surplus vaccines to immunize the under-vaccinated countries. Far from near, the G7 countries had drastically failed to deliver on their promises made on G7 summit in June. As of last week, USA has delivered only 25%, with further embarrassing arithmetic of EU only 19%, UK 11% and Canada just 5%.
Given the frightening predictions from WHO that another 5 million could be added to the already 5 million death tolls across the world, in the next year or more, it is high time starting a collective endeavor with herculean efforts to inoculate large swaths of unvaccinated people in un-protected areas. Keeping large portion out of vaccination will only make the pandemic endure with no time to end, as virus continues to persist through mutating in un-protected area into a more menacing variant. If so, then again someone else may say, after next the worst wave- “We were forewarned- and yet here we are”.
The Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty (TPNW): Wishful daydream or historic milestone?
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), adopted in 2017, has entered into force on the 22nd of January of this year and the number of ratifying states continues to grow, with Mongolia being the latest to announce its accession. This positive trend is certainly welcomed with enthusiasm by the Civil Society campaigners and growing number of supporters of this treaty that represents a huge step forward for the global movement to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons. It would certainly be dishonest to ignore the fact that this new international legal instrument remains controversial, to say the least, for most of the members of the so-called nuclear deterrence community. As preparations are ongoing for the first Meeting of States Parties, scheduled to take place in Vienna on 22-24 March 2022, it is useful to address some of the main doubts and arguments against the treaty.
In this regard, the main criticism is that it makes no sense to support a treaty on nuclear weapons if those states that possess them have not joined nor any intention to join it.
In order to address this claim, it may be useful to recall that in the case of the Mine Ban and the Cluster Munition treaties, its main promoters and supporters were also states that did not possess those weapons, and that those international instruments also received some harsh criticism for this reason. Despite of this, there is no doubt now that both of those treaties have become remarkable success stories, not only by achieving the goal of approaching universalization, but also by consolidating a general moral condemnation of those categories of weapons. Therefore, the argument that a treaty necessarily needs to be joined by the possessors of the weapons can easily be rebutted. Despite of the current position of the nuclear weapons states, each new ratification of the treaty is not meaningless: on the contrary, it provides the treaty more authority and contributes to the growing pressure on nuclear weapons states to adopt further steps towards nuclear disarmament.
The other major contribution of the TPNW is that it facilitates the process of delegitimisation of nuclear weapons, necessary to finally amend the well-established foundations of nuclear deterrence doctrines. The humanitarian principles that are underlying the treaty are totally incompatible with those doctrines, and therefore are having an impact on them by highlighting the inherent immorality and illegitimacy of nuclear weapons.
Another argument for the case of ratification is that it provides states the opportunity to support the process of democratization of the global debate on nuclear weapons, as this new treaty has been the result of a very open discussion with active engagement of delegations from all geographic regions and, in particular, of representatives of Civil Society. This is not a minor aspect of this process, but a key element. Indeed, unlike in negotiations of previous international legal instruments, in this era of growing complexity and interlinkages, the main challenges faced by humankind are being addressed by a diverse group of citizens, from all walks of life and regions. Traditional diplomacy is certainly not enough, and in the case of the TPNW, the positive results would clearly not have been possible without the decisive boost provided by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which was able to mobilize Civil Society and likeminded governments towards the goal of negotiating a nuclear weapons ban treaty.
While it would be naïve to expect the establishment of the nuclear weapons states to be convinced by the humanitarian narrative and in a foreseeable future to amend its defence and security policies base on nuclear deterrence, the TPNW and its focus on the security of the human being instead of the traditional notion of the security of the state, are already having an impact on the academic and public debates in those states.
The second argument used by its critics is that the TPNW weakens the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Actually, this is not only incorrect, the opposite is true. In fact, the TPNW can serve as an initiative to help implement article VI of the NPT, by which parties are committed to undertake to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament”. This is of vital importance as the treaty clearly attaches a key role to all parties, and not only to those states that possess nuclear weapons. This commitment has also been reflected in the Final Document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, and the TPNW can be understood as a reflection of that obligation to contribute to nuclear disarmament by non-nuclear weapons states.
Another common point is that the nuclear weapons industry is too strong and well consolidated and that it would be naïve to pretend that this treaty could actually have an impact on investment decisions.
This pessimism has also been proven wrong. In fact, in 2021, more than one hundred financial institutions are reported to have decided to stop investing in companies related to nuclear weapons production. As a result, the nuclear weapons industry is experiencing a considerable reduction and the trend towards the exclusion of this sector from investment targets is growing steadily. This is not only the consequence from the legal obligations that emanate from the TPNW but a reflection of the devaluation of the public image associated to these industries. As this public image continues to deteriorate, it is likely that this trend will continue and that the moral condemnation of these weapons of mass destruction will be absorbed into the mainstream of society.
Another common misinterpretation is that the TPNW should be understood as an instrument that is only designed to be joined exclusively by non-nuclear weapons states.
In fact, even though the treaty was developed by non-nuclear weapons states, it has been drafted and negotiated with the goal of universal adherence, including, someday, those states that still include nuclear deterrence in their national security doctrines. In particular, the TPNW establishes a clear set of steps for nuclear weapons states in order to eliminate their arsenals of nuclear weapons. Specifically, within 60 days after the entry into force of the treaty for a state party that possesses nuclear weapons, that state must submit a plan for the complete elimination of its nuclear weapons to a competent international authority that has been specially designated by states parties. The treaty also includes a process to designate a competent international authority to verify the elimination of nuclear weapons by a state before acceding to the treaty, and a process for states parties that maintain nuclear weapons in their territories for the removal of these weapons and report this action to the United Nations Secretary General.
It is also noteworthy that this treaty obliges states parties to provide adequate assistance to victims affected by the use or by testing of nuclear weapons, and to take the necessary measures for environmental rehabilitation in areas contaminated under its control. This dimension of the treaty constitutes an important contribution both to the protection of human rights of victims and to the now inescapable obligation to protect the environment, which are aspects that are not covered by the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). This certainly does not affect the value and vital role of this key instrument of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime but complements it by addressing the fundamental issue of environmental reparation.
The main challenge now is now not only to achieve a wider universality of the TPNW, but to engage more stakeholders and create awareness on the urgency of bringing pressure on the nuclear weapons states to finally move toward nuclear disarmament. In this regard, Civil Society initiatives have been promoting engagement of members of grassroots, parliament, the media and city governments, particularly in nuclear weapons states, which has had impressive results, with hundreds of local governments expressing support for the treaty and generating discussion among the population. These initiatives serve the purpose of putting pressure on politicians and especially, to facilitate a discussion within democratic societies about the sustainability and risks involved in the possession and harboring of nuclear weapons.
Indeed, the TPNW has a long way to go and overcome many obstacles to achieve its objective, but in its first year of entry into force, it has already had an undeniable impact on the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation debate, despite the expected skeptics and efforts to ignore its existence stemming from the still powerful nuclear deterrence establishment. Most of its technical experts, academics and government officials honestly believe that nuclear weapons have helped to guarantee peace and stability to the world and therefore should continue as the foundation of international security doctrines. These well-established ideas have been based on the questionable assumption that the deployment of these weapons have avoided war and can guarantee permanent peace for all nations. This has served as a sort of dogmatic idea for many decades, but recent research results have shown that the risks involved are significantly higher and that the humanitarian consequences would be catastrophic for every citizen of the planet. The humanitarian impact paradigm, which underlies the process that has inspired the TPNW, has provoked a tectonic shift in the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation debate, which had been limited to the NPT review conferences with its often-frustrating results. Certainly, the persistence of the different approaches needs to be addressed in a more constructive discussion among the supporters of this treaty and the deterrence community.
Finally, the fact that the first meeting of states parties of the TPNW will take place in Vienna is very meaningful as Austria has been one of the leading nations in this process, particularly in drafting the Humanitarian Pledge to fill the legal gap for the prohibition of nuclear weapons, which has been a decisive step towards the treaty that has already fulfilled that commitment. Despite of all the difficulties and the persistence of significant resistance, the active and committed participation of diplomats and Civil Society representatives, under the leadership of Austria, allow to envisage that this first meeting will help to strengthen the treaty and move forward in the long and burdensome road to the final objective of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.
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