Options for Dealing with Iran’s Nuclear Problem: A Risk Assessment Approach

Published: April 18, 2012

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Options for Dealing with Iran’s Nuclear Problem: A Risk Assessment Approach
Abdullah Toukan | CSIS

The growing confrontation with Iran over its nuclear, missiles, and asymmetric warfare programs presents major problems in risk assessment. The Burke Chair is circulating a briefing that uses a new method of risk assessment developed by Dr. Abdullah Toukan, a visiting fellow at CSIS and noted regional expert of military matters and arms control. The briefing presents Dr. Toukan’s analysis of the strategic options (dialogue and diplomacy, economic and financial sanctions, deterrence and active defense, military strike) available in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program. It uses a multi-dimensional risk analysis approach to address the complexities of the issues involved. It reveals that no one strategic policy option solution stands out as the optimal choice, but points towards a strategy of mixed policy options. The briefing also shows the various linkages related to this now global issue: not only options linked in duration and intensity but the distinctions of how the international community has to sustain a delicate balance between four primary options. For more information on the new risk methodology Dr. Toukan has developed, and the full details of his risk analysis, contact him at: abdullah.toukan@sagracenter.org.

To download the full report, click here.


The full series of Burke Chair analyses of US and Iranian competition can be found at http://csis.org/program/us-and-iranian-strategic-competition. This series includes the following fourteen reports:

  1. Introduction
  2. Types and Levels of Competition – This chapter looks at the various arenas in which Iran and the U.S. compete for influence.
  3. Iran and the Gulf Military Balance – This chapter looks at Iran’s Military forces in detail, and the balance of forces in the Gulf Region.
  4. Iran and the Gulf Military Balance II – This chapter looks at Iran’s Missile and Nuclear forces.
  5. U.S. and Iranian Strategic Competition: The Sanctions game: Energy, Arms Control, and Regime Change – This chapter examines the impact of sanctions on the Iranian regime, Iran’s energy sector, and the prospects for regime change in Tehran.
  6. US and Iranian Strategic Competition in the Gulf States and Yemen – This chapter examines the competition between the US, and Iran and how it affects Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, the UAE, Oman and Qatar.
  7. The Outcome of Invasion: US and Iranian Strategic Competition in Iraq – This chapter examines in detail the role Iran has played in Iraq since 2003, and how the US has tried to counter it.
  8. U.S. and Iranian Strategic Competition: The Proxy Cold War in the Levant, Egypt and Jordan– This chapter examines US and Iranian interests in the Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, Egypt and Syria.  The military balance is also analyzed.
  9. The United States and Iran: Competition involving Turkey and the South Caucasus – This chapter analyzes the US and Iranian competition over influence in Armenia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
  10. Competition in Afghanistan, Central Asia, and Pakistan – This chapter examines the important role Iran plays in the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, and how the US and Iranian rivalry affects Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia.
  11. U.S. and Iranian Strategic Competition: The Impact of China and Russia – This chapter examines the complex and evolving relationships between China, Russia, Iran and the US.
  12. U.S. and Iranian Strategic Competition: Competition Involving the EU, EU3, and non-EU European States – This chapter looks at the role the EU, and in particular the EU3, have played as the U.S.’s closest allies in its competition with Iran.
  13. U.S. and Iranian Strategic Competition: Peripheral Competition Involving Latin America and Africa – This chapter examines the extent and importance of the competition between the US and Iran in the rest of the world.
  14. Policy Implications