The U.S. is the most powerful nation in the world. It uses its economic, military, and political might to influence the issues of the other countries. Therefore, foreign policy is one of the major policies of the U.S. During every election year. Presidential candidates use foreign policy to attract voters. Iran is one of the major focuses of U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. government believes that Iran exports Islamic radicals. Also, the U.S. believes that Iran supports Hezbollah and Hamas, some of the major radical Islamic revolutionary movements in the Middle East. These radical Islamic revolution movements oppose peace in the Middle East. Also, Iran strives to attain the capacity to develop nuclear and biological weapons. Having the capacity to build these weapons would pose a major threat to world threats. The U.S. also believes that Iran assists insurgents in Iraq. Also, the U.S. believes that Iran undertakes various human rights violations. The U.S. can substantiate some of the above claims. However, others are mere speculation. These claims have made the U.S. characterize Iran as a rogue state that poses a serious threat to the Middle East and the world at large.
Iran’s Nuclear Development Program
The U.S. believes that Iran is developing nuclear projects that strive to enable Iran to have the capacity to make nuclear weapons. The U.S. fears that if Iran attains the capacity to make nuclear weapons, it may use the weapons to attack Israel and the U.S. military in the region. The U.S. has a huge military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Therefore, attack on these troops may have adverse effects on the U.S. Israel is a close ally of the U.S. in the Middle East. Therefore, the U.S. strives to protect Israel’s interests in the Middle East. Also, the U.S. fears that if Iraq acquires the capability to make nuclear weapons, it may pass the weapons to terrorists who may use the weapons to attack the U.S. Recent reports indicate that Iran’s development of nuclear weapons is at an advanced stage. Before the end of 2013, the country will have the capacity to make nuclear bombs (Greenwood, 2013). Therefore, military action against Iran is imminent. Military action would help in derailing the efforts of the country to make nuclear bombs.
Iran has received immense pressure from the international community due to its nuclear project. However, the country has withstood several types of economic sanctions and isolation by the U.S. and E.U. According to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), countries have the right to develop nuclear projects for civil purposes. Iran used this right during negotiations to advance its nuclear development project. Iran has continued to develop its nuclear program despite threats from Israel and the U.S. Therefore, diplomacy has not helped in halting Iran’s nuclear development project.
Despite Iran’s defiance, the country ensures that it does not violate the NPT. The country regularly allows the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit various nuclear plants. By allowing IAEA to visit various nuclear plants, Iran insists that it intends to use its nuclear technology for civil purposes. However, this has been unable to quell suspicion from the U.S. that the country does not intend to use nuclear technology for military purposes. A visit by the agency in February 2013 showed that Iran intends to install new-generation centrifuges in its nuclear plants. These centrifuges can refine uranium at a much faster rate. This has increased suspicion from the U.S. and other Western nations that Iran may develop nuclear bombs shortly (Dahl, 2013).
Sanctions and Military Threats
Diplomacy has helped in improving Iran’s nuclear program. If the U.S. takes Iran to the U.N. Security Council, there is little probability that the council would approve sanctions or military action against the country. This is because there is no evidence that Iran has taken decisive strides towards the development of nuclear weapons. Also, China and Russia are members of the U.N. Security Council. These countries seem ready to oppose any sanctions or military action against Iran. The time it takes for Iran to engage in negotiations would allow Iran to continue with its uranium enrichment activities. Enrichment of uranium would increase its strength in negotiations with the U.N. Security Council and IAEA. Iran recently installed a new generation centrifuge that can enrich uranium at a much faster rate. This has made the U.S. increase its rhetoric against Iran’s nuclear development program.
Iran believes that the U.S. would strive to change the current regime in Tehran regardless of whether it tries to improve its nuclear development program or not. This is not the first time that the U.S. is threatening to use military action against Iran. Indeed, the U.S supported Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war. Therefore, it is clear that the U.S. would not refrain from military action regardless of whether Iran pursues its nuclear development program or not. According to Tehran, a hard line is the only strategy that would save them from experiencing the fate that Iraq experienced (Davis, Martini & Nader, 2011). Iraq’s failure to have a hard line is one of the factors that made the U.S. attack Iraq. On the other hand, North Korea has maintained a hard line. This has made it difficult for the U.S. to attack the country.
Iran believes that there is very little probability that the U.S. would have a full-scale military invasion of the country. This is because the U.S. has thousands of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Also, Tehran believed that airstrikes would not derail its nuclear development program. Military airstrikes may improve Iran’s nuclear development program. The strikes may spur Iranian nationalism, which would improve public support of the current regime.
On the other hand, Iran considers the threat of tactical nuclear strikes by the U.S. as an empty threat. The effect of such strikes would go beyond the Iranian borders. It would create an international crisis. Therefore, the U.S. would not use tactical nuclear strikes on the country.
Iran uses several strategies to reduce the threat the military action or sanctions against the country. Iran is a prominent member of OPEC. It is the world’s second-largest producer of crude oil. It produces more than 2.5 million barrels of oil daily. Therefore, military invasion, economic sanctions, or international isolation would have adverse effects on the ability of the country to produce oil. This would destabilize the price of crude oil in the global market. This would have adverse effects on the global economy (Bahgat, 2011).
Iran strives to improve its global influence. It has good trade relations with China, India, and Japan. Also, it has good relations with its neighbors. Iran supports the new Afghanistan government. Therefore, the country has common interests with the U.S. It would be hard for the U.S. to overlook the importance of Iran’s support of the new Afghanistan government. Also, good trade relations with China, India, and Japan reduce the probability that these countries would support the military invasion, economic sanctions, or international isolation of Iran.
Political developments in Lebanon and Palestine have reduced the influence that Iran has over Hezbollah and Hamas. Also, Iran does not have a definitive position on Al-Qaeda. Iran does not have a strong relationship with Saudi Jihadists who engage in terrorism activities in Iraq. It is a fact that Iran cannot match the military might of the U.S. However, Iran promises to use all its ability to make it difficult for the U.S. troops to achieve success if there is a military invasion of the country. Also, the military invasion of Iran may destabilize the whole of the Middle East. Currently, Iran is one of the few Middle East countries that have political stability. Destabilizing Iran may destabilize the whole region. This may pose a serious security threat to Israel, which is one of the major allies of the U.S.
Revising U.S Foreign Policy on Iran
The above factors show that the U.S foreign policy on Iran has not been successful. Despite the efforts of the U.S. to thwart Iran’s nuclear development program, the country has continued to pursue its nuclear development program. Iran is only a few months from having the capability to develop nuclear weapons. The U.S. should consider Iran’s rationality in developing an efficient foreign policy on the country. The U.S. foreign policy should give more emphasis to Iran’s human rights record. Also, the U.S. should form strong collaborations with the E.U. to derail Iran’s nuclear development program. They should substitute sanctions that strive to reduce proliferation with sanctions that would have far-reaching effects on the country.
The Obama administration has strived to increase diplomatic talks with the country. However, the diplomatic talks have not discouraged the country from pursuing its nuclear development program. The U.S. has reduced its military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, it cannot afford to invade another country. The experiences of military invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan have made the U.S. reluctant to invade another country. Therefore, it should collaborate with other countries and NATO in the military invasion of Iran. This shows that the influence of the U.S. on global affairs is slowly waning. China and Russia would play a critical role in reducing the efforts of the U.S. to derail Iran’s nuclear development program.
The U.S. has termed Iran as a rogue state since the hostage crisis of 1979. During the crisis, Iranians took over the American Embassy in Tehran. They held hostage more than fifty Americans for 444 days. After that, Iran invaded Iraq. The U.S. has not been able to mend relations with the country since the crisis. Washington does not support the regime the Tehran. Iran has continued to pursue its nuclear development programs. The regime in Tehran knows that regardless of whether it continues to pursue its nuclear development program or not, it will never gain the support of Washington. To avoid facing the predicament that Iraq faced, Iran has maintained a hard line in negotiations with the U.S. and IAEA. Also, the country has used various strategies to reduce the probability of military invasion, international isolation, or economic sanctions. These strategies have reduced the efficiency of the U.S. foreign policy on the country. Therefore, the U.S. should collaborate with other countries in thwarting the nuclear development program of the country.
Davis, L.E., Martini, J. & Nader, A. (2011). Iran’s nuclear future: Critical U.S. policy choices. Arlington, VA: Rand Corporation.
Bahgat, G. (2011). Energy security: An interdisciplinary approach. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Greenwood, P. (2013). “Iran has ‘all the ingredients necessary’ to make a nuclear weapon.” The Telegraph. Web.
Dahl, F. (2013). “UN inspectors see new centrifuges at Iran nuclear site: diplomat.” Reuters. Web.