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Contain and Engage: A New Strategy for Resolving the Nuclear Crisis with Iran

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Publication Date: February 2007

Publisher(s): Center for American Progress

Author(s): Andrew J. Grotto; Joseph Cirincione

Funder(s): Center for American Progress

Funder(s): Center for American Progress

Topic: Government (Foreign relations)

Type: Report

Coverage: Iran


For six years, the United States has ineffectively confronted Iran over its nuclear program. Bush administration officials had several opportunities to constrain, perhaps even end, programs that could eventually give Iran a nuclear-weapons capability, but they rejected negotiations in favor of efforts to replace the ruling clerical regime. These efforts failed.

There is little reason for Americans to have confidence in the Bush administration’s failed strategy for dealing with Iran. Its counter-proliferation and democracy-promotion strategies, heralded as fundamental breaks from the policies of the previous decades, have proved disastrous. The Iranian nuclear program has accelerated over the past six years, while other proliferation problems have worsened across the board.

A more effective approach is urgently needed. This report offers a new way forward. We identify five basic U.S. policy options for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, none of which offers an assured path to success.