The dangers of a military attack on Iran’s nuclear programme (Feb 2012)

There are increasingly vocal demands for military action to halt Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons programme. Dr Stuart Parkinson, SGR, takes a critical look at the evidence for such a programme and argues that any military attack is likely to make matters considerably worse.

Article for INES website, 13 February 2012 (updated on 23 February and 27 March)

In November, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watchdog, published its latest report on Iran’s nuclear programme. It expressed “serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme”. Economic sanctions against Iran – especially by Western nations – are being ramped up to try force the Iranian government to comply with all IAEA recommendations. Iran, however, protests that its nuclear programme is peaceful and it is being unfairly criticised. Some leading political voices – especially in Israel and the USA – have responded by calling for military strikes to damage or destroy the Iranian programme with the aim being to stop any activity which might lead to Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

But is Iran really building a nuclear weapon? And, if it were, would a military attack stop it? Or would it just make matters worse?

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