Exporting Nuclear Triggers

The Strange Case of Richard Smyth

by Richard Sale , Geoffrey Aronson
published in MER146

Richard Smyth, indicted in May 1985 for illegally exporting nuclear trigger devices to Israel, is now a fugitive. In August 1985, two days before he was scheduled to appear in court, Smyth and his wife sailed his boat to Catalina Island, off the coast of southern California, and disappeared, forfeiting his $100,000 bail. Some US intelligence agents believe Smyth was murdered. Other reports now place him in Israel. “There was no way Israel could afford an appearance by Smyth in court,” said one US operative.

International Law and the Iran Impasse

by Aslı Bâli | published December 16, 2012

On any given day, provided her paper of choice still features international coverage, the average American newspaper reader can expect to be treated to one or two articles on attempts to halt advances in Iran’s nuclear program. These articles might cover efforts to levy fresh sanctions against the Islamic Republic; they might relay news of discussions among Iran’s primary interlocutors on the nuclear question, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (the so-called P5+1), about diplomatic overtures. Or the stories might echo the mounting calls for airstrikes or other military action to delay and disrupt the progress of Iranian nuclear research.

Iran in the Campaign's Crosshairs

by Chris Toensing | published October 10, 2012

The war of words over Iran's nuclear program keeps expanding.

It’s now a multi-sided melee pitting Iran against the West and Israel, Israel against the Obama administration, Mitt Romney against Barack Obama, and neo-conservatives like William Kristol against the rest of the US foreign policy establishment.

The rhetoric is more heated, too. President Obama swears that his administration “will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” It’s his clearest indication to date that he would, if he deemed it necessary, order military strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.

"Iran Will Require Assurances"

An Interview with Hossein Mousavian

by Aslı Bâli | published May 16, 2012

Hossein Mousavian has served as visiting research scholar at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security from 2009 to the present. Prior to this position, he held numerous positions in the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including director-general of its West Europe department and ambassador to Germany from 1990 to 1997. Ambassador Mousavian was also head of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran during both terms of Mohammad Khatami’s presidency (1997-2005). In this capacity, he served as spokesman of the Iranian nuclear negotiations team from 2003 to 2005.

Narrowing the Options on the Table

by Farideh Farhi | published December 8, 2011

Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s foreign minister and former representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is not usually a sarcastic man. But he became one in early November following several days of leaks about the negative content of a pending IAEA report on Iran. “Marg yek bar, shivan yek bar,” he said, using an age-old Persian expression. Literally, the phrase means “You die once, you are mourned once,” but here it might be translated, “Get it over with.”

Reversing the Middle East Nuclear Race

by Yezid Sayigh
published in MER177

“The Middle East has entered the nuclear age,” said Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens in October 1991, as he surveyed the region’s strategic environment in the aftermath of the Gulf war and just days before the opening session in Madrid of the Arab-Israeli peace talks. [1] Arens may merely have been reflecting on a reality that needs to be addressed. Or he may have been staking out a preemptive position in advance of demands for arms controls and territorial concessions, by seeking to make the Israeli nuclear monopoly an explicit component of the regional strategic equation. Between the two interpretations lies the key to the impact of non-conventional weapons proliferation on Middle East stability.

Scuds versus Butter

The Political Economy of Arms Control in the Arab World

by Yahya Sadowski
published in MER177

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From the Editors

published in MER196

Not all international travelers are tourists. The August deployment of thousands of US troops to participate in war games in Jordan and Kuwait will not show up in the statistics of this fast-growing global industry, though shore leaves may boost some bar and brothel receipts in Haifa and Bahrain. But vacationers contemplating trips to the region may take pause from this blustering reminder that the Middle East is the region US military planners see as the most likely site of future military action involving US forces.

Nuclear Counterproliferation in the Middle East

by Hans M. Kristensen , Joshua Handler
published in MER197

The United States and France are developing strategies for using nuclear weapons in developing countries, ostensibly to counter proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical and biological). The Middle East in particular has become a testing ground for nuclear war games. [1] This worrisome trend is more likely to provoke a Middle East arms race than to stop proliferation.

Iran and the Virtual Reality of US War Games

by William M. Arkin
published in MER197

The year is 2002. Saddam Hussein has been assassinated, and Shi‘i forces in Basra have declared their independence from Baghdad. Iran, the dominant regional power, invades Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to gain regional hegemony, control the price of oil, finance its military buildup “and ameliorate its social problem.” Tehran threatens to use nuclear weapons if the United States intervenes to defend its Gulf allies.