Solutions to Violent Conflict

Archive for the ‘Nuclear disarmament’ Category

If You Think War with Iran Is the Answer, Think Again

In Iran, Nuclear disarmament, Sanctions and Security on October 8, 2015 at 12:21 pm

Mary Ellen O’Connell

Mary Ellen O’Connell is the Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law and Research Professor of International Dispute Resolution at the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.

Opponents of the Iran nuclear deal have attacked the treaty in part by claiming there are better alternatives. They argue they can get a better treaty by re-imposing tough sanctions, and some even claim that military force could be used instead of a treaty to eliminate the nuclear program. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew made it clear in a New York Times op-ed in August that new sanctions are a non-starter. Other countries are unlikely to join the U.S. in re-imposing sanctions. More sanctions will hurt the U.S. with little chance of persuading Iran.

That leaves military force. Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly explained his vote for the treaty by saying he wanted to try diplomacy before going to war: “With or without this deal, the day may come when we are left with no alternative but to take military action to prevent Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold.” Read the rest of this entry »

The Iran Deal: Not Perfect, but the Best Possible

In Iran, Nuclear disarmament, Sanctions and Security on October 8, 2015 at 12:20 pm


Michael C. Desch

Michael C. Desch is Professor of Political Science and Co-director of the Notre Dame International Security Program.

Winston Churchill famously said of democracy that it was the worst form of government except for all the others. The same could be said of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran to contain its nuclear program.

The critics have a point. The JCPOA does not eliminate forever the possibility of Iran developing a nuclear weapon. It does nothing to hinder Iranian support for groups many Americans regard as terrorists—particularly Lebanon’s Hezbollah or various radical Shia groups in Iraq. And it does not break the power of the mullahs and unleash the Iranian masses yearning for freedom. Read the rest of this entry »

Success through Sanctions

In Iran, Nuclear disarmament, Sanctions and Security on October 8, 2015 at 12:20 pm

David Cortright

David Cortright is Director of Policy Studies for the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

The Iran nuclear deal resulted in part from the effective use of multilateral sanctions to apply persuasive pressure on Iran to limit its nuclear program. By combining sanctions with incentives the United States and its partners were able to engage Iran in a bargaining process that led to a diplomatic agreement. If successfully implemented the Iran deal could serve as a model for the use of sanctions in other cases to achieve international policy objectives.

The United States has maintained a wide range of sanctions on Iran since the 1980s, but these unilateral sanctions had little effect on Tehran since the regime was able to find other markets and suppliers. The imposition of multilateral Security Council sanctions in 2006 was more serious and proved decisive in convincing the regime to come to the bargaining table. Especially worrisome for Iran was the vote of Russia and China in favor of targeted UN sanctions. Tehran recognized that it was now isolated diplomatically and that it would face increasing economic pressures to comply with the Council’s nonproliferation demands. Read the rest of this entry »

Ethical Challenges of Global Zero

In Catholic, Nuclear disarmament on May 28, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Gerard F. Powers

Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. Catholic bishops and other religious leaders have given much greater attention to the moral imperative of nuclear disarmament. But a gap exists in the ethical analysis needed to sustain this moral imperative. The quality of reflection on the ethics of nuclear use and deterrence needs to be matched by the development of an equally sophisticated ethics of disarmament.

Three issues exemplify this nuclear ethics gap.

First, an ethics of deterrence must be married to an ethics of disarmament. In their 1983 pastoral, The Challenge of Peace, the bishops proposed an “interim ethic” whereby nuclear deterrence could be morally acceptable if it is limited to deterring the use of nuclear weapons, is not based on achieving nuclear superiority, and is used as a step toward progressive disarmament. In 2013, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican foreign minister, seemed to question this conditional moral acceptance of deterrence, saying that the “chief obstacle to starting this work [on nuclear disarmament] is continued adherence to the doctrine of nuclear deterrence.”[1] Read the rest of this entry »

Catholic Universities and the Nuclear Threat

In Catholic, Nuclear disarmament on May 28, 2014 at 12:39 pm


Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.

Fifty-one years ago, Pope John XXIII issued his encyclical Pacem in Terris, which declared that “the arms race should cease” and urged that “all come to an agreement on a fitting program of disarmament.”

In revitalizing the Catholic voice first raised by Pope John, Catholic universities play a special role. We have an obligation to use our scholarly abilities to research and teach on the most pressing issues of life and death — including on the catastrophic power of nuclear weapons. We also have the opportunity to work in collaboration with the Bishops of our Church, the ethicists and academics from other universities, and with national security experts who’ve held the highest positions of responsibility in the United States government. Read the rest of this entry »

Moral and Spiritual Values for Nuclear Disarmament

In Catholic, Nuclear disarmament on May 28, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Margaret Pfeil

Over the last 30 years, the Catholic Church’s teaching on the morality of nuclear deterrence has developed in response to post-Cold War conditions, appealing to a vibrant, traditional value system.

In their 1983 pastoral letter, The Challenge of Peace, the U.S. bishops judged nuclear deterrence to be morally acceptable only as an interim step toward progressive nuclear disarmament. In 1997, the Holy See’s representative at the United Nations stated: “Maintaining nuclear deterrence into the 21st Century will not aid but impede peace. Nuclear deterrence prevents genuine nuclear disarmament. It maintains an unacceptable hegemony over non-nuclear development for the poorest half of the world’s population.”[1]

More recently, in an address to the high-level U.N. meeting on nuclear disarmament on September 27, 2013, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States, named the doctrine of nuclear deterrence as the main impediment to a phased and verifiable process of nuclear disarmament. Read the rest of this entry »

Preventing War with Iran: Have Prospects Improved?

In Iran, Middle East, Nuclear disarmament on September 18, 2013 at 11:38 am

Ellen Laipson

The election of President Hassan Rouhani has augured in a wave of hopefulness that conflict between Iran and the U.S. could be avoided. But the escalating crisis in Syria has cast a shadow over prospects for improvement. The August 21 use of chemical weapons in Syria’s civil war generated talk of the use of force by the U.S. that some saw as a practice run for an Iran operation or as a move to deter and warn Iran.

By September 10, the circle had turned again, with emerging prospects of a new international initiative to persuade Syria to give up its chemical stocks and begin negotiations to end the war. Such a development would have great potential benefit for U.S.-Iran relations. Rouhani’s election and his naming of the respected diplomat Mohammad Jarad Zerif as Foreign Minister and lead nuclear negotiator have created hope that Iran may be ready to work for a negotiated settlement on its nuclear activities. Read the rest of this entry »

Prospects for Diplomacy to Resolve the Iranian Nuclear Dilemma

In Iran, Middle East, Nuclear disarmament on September 18, 2013 at 11:38 am
ARAK, IRAN - OCTOBER 27:  Irans contraversial heavy water production facility is seen in this general view, October 27, 2004 at Arak, south of the Iranian capital Tehran.  Iran said Wednesday that the plant will go online within a month despite international pressure to suspend such nuclear-related activities.    (Photo by Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)

Heavy water production facility at Arak, south of Tehran. (Photo by Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)

Seyed Hossein Mousavian

With the victory of a moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, in Iran, there is renewed hope for a diplomatic breakthrough in the stalemate over Iran’s nuclear program. There also are encouraging signs at the White House. President Obama in his 2013 State of the Union address called on Iran’s leaders to “recognize that now is the time for a diplomatic solution.” At the same time, however, there is a risk that if the current Western policy of pressure on Iran continues, we will inch toward a military confrontation. Read the rest of this entry »

Suspending Sanctions: A Strategy for Reaching a Nuclear Agreement with Iran

In Iran, Middle East, Nuclear disarmament, Sanctions and Security on September 18, 2013 at 11:36 am

George A. Lopez and David Cortright

In light of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s inauguration and his declared intention to enhance transparency and improve relations with the international community, a new and significant opportunity exists to end the nuclear standoff with Iran.

The core objectives of the international community are to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and to guarantee that its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes. This can be accomplished by convincing Tehran to accept binding limits on its nuclear program and robust monitoring mechanisms to guarantee the absence of military-related activities.

Iran may be willing to accept greater transparency and limits on its nuclear program in exchange for relief from international sanctions. The United States could help to make this possible by offering an initial suspension of sanctions on non-military goods and services. The U.S. could urge the European Union to adopt a parallel suspension. Read the rest of this entry »

Negotiating with North Korea: The Current Context

In North Korea, Nuclear disarmament, Sanctions and Security on March 21, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Stephen W. Bosworth

I have been dealing with North Korea since the 1990s, when we tried to implement the Agreed Framework, and later when I served as the U.S. Ambassador in Seoul. When I returned to active service as the Special Representative to North Korea in 2009-2011, I observed fundamental differences between what it was like trying to deal with the nuclear issue in the 1990s and what it is like now.

The most significant difference is that North Korea can now claim, with some degree of credibility, that it possesses nuclear weapons. Pyongyang has not said how many weapons it has or whether it can deliver them, but it undoubtedly has nuclear weapons. This has changed the way we try to deal with the North and how other countries in the region try to deal with them. Read the rest of this entry »