The US Approach to Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions


The public relations between the United States and Iran is said to date way back to 1800 and it remained cordial until after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, which caused major hostility between the two countries (Zaterein 2008, 32). Since then, Iran has been severally accused of running a program of building nuclear weapons, also known as weapons of mass destruction, and the U.S administration has been on the forefront fighting for the constraint of nuclear materials. Dannreuther (2007) calls for recognition of the United States in its fight against nuclear proliferation (112).

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The United States administration in the fight against Iran dates back to its 39th president Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s to its current administration by President Barrack Obama. The political conflict between the two countries is said to have reached its peak during the reign of President George Bush and Reagan when they were accused of supporting Iraq in its war with Iran (Slavin 2009, 13). They were accused of allowing Iraq to gain access to dangerous chemicals and poisonous biological viruses such as bubonic plague to destroy Iran (Rajaee 1993, 65). The Iranians too reiterated in 1983 in the Beirut barracks bombing which killed more than 200 servicemen.

This research is meant to highlight the attempts by the U.S to fight against Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons and its numerous failures in doing so. It will also give solutions that the U.S might need to adapt to succeed in its fight.


Iran has been accused of producing nuclear weapons, a claim which it has vehemently denied. Many countries claim that the program to produce nuclear is against the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty to which Iran is a member. According to Archibald and Austin (2000), caution has been given to the spread of nuclear weapons in Iran and this problem will greatly destabilize the systems of many international systems.

The proliferation of nuclear weapons has caused countries like Turkey to impose sanctions on Iran. Iran has however denied claims that it is still producing nuclear weapons and claims that it cannot breach the laws under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty that binds it against the production of the same (Khan 2009, 22).

Objectives Of The Research

This research is aimed at discussing the production of Nuclear weapons by Iran.

It will also look at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in which Iran is also a signatory, and its stand against claims of Iran producing nuclear weapons.

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It will further discuss the attempts by the U.S against this proliferation of nuclear weapons and its failures.

Literature Review

According to Calabresi (2003, 4), Iran is a signatory to various laws relating to nuclear weapons such as the Chemical Weapons Convention and Biological Weapons Convention. However, the most binding is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to which Iran ratified in 1970 the same year that it came into force. It has 189 states that have ratified the Treaty. Its main aim is the war to ensure disarmament, non-proliferation, and to ensure the peaceful use of nuclear technology. All the ratified states are under the umbrella of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which ensures that all the ratified states comply with the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (Timmerman 2006, 43).

Iran has been accused of not meeting its obligations regarding safeguards as provided in the statute. In 2003, the General Director Mohamed Elbaradei of IAEA gave a statement which stated that Iran was in breach of Article XIII.C of IAEA statute; Iran had failed to affirm its program of uranium enrichment.

Iran its defense argued that it was legally enriching uranium and that the enrichment was a peaceful civil nuclear program as provided under Article IV of the Treaty. International attempts to curb and sanction Iran over the years have to lead to Iran issuing a threat to pull out of the Treaty in 2009 (Phillip 2009, 5).

The United States has made every attempt to prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons. It has imposed sanctions for decades now but has failed due to international support to Iran’s peaceful purpose claim as the reason behind its program (Mousarin 2008, 16) and the IAEA Board recently declared that the program Iran was undertaking was purely for peaceful purposes.

The fear of Iran producing nuclear weapons dates back to the 1970s during the administration of President Carter and Ford. (International Studies Association 1982, 14) The then Iranian leader Shah of Iran laid his argument based on the issue of their capability of producing nuclear energy as a right and only for certain purposes like security. The publication of the documents written during the Carter and Ford era by Natural Security Archive in 2009 is a clear indication that the fear still loomed in the United States. The fear then was that Iran sought production of Plutonium capability while the current situation is that Iran’s capability of its uranium enrichment (Leonard 2009, 12)

The documents found showed that the Ford and Carter administration had successfully agreed to put the control of nonproliferation over the U.S. Though the agreement was derailed in 1979 during the Iranian Revolution, the documents give a clear indication of an attempt to halt Iran from using its technological capabilities of producing weapons of mass destruction. According to Burr (2009, 6), the Bush-era also showed concern on Iran’s production of nuclear weapons and its claims that it was for peaceful purposes and put up a strong fight to put an end to it.

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Research Findings

As seen in the view of different authors above, it can therefore be argued that the US has not succeeded in this war and has even gone further to accuse Iran of breaching the agreement in the Treaty that gives signatories an inalienable right to generate fuel for civilian energy production and it has blocked any transfer or sale of nuclear technology considered sensitive to Iran. Sanctions on travel and financial aid on Iranian companies and citizens have also been imposed (Clayde 2008, 22) by the US and the UN. Congress members were calling for the Bill prohibiting foreign companies from selling oil to Iran and a penalty to any company in breach of this.

The war on Iran against nuclear weapons becomes more complicated as Iran keeps sending mixed signals on its cooperation with the Treaty. This has been evident when the Iranian government publicly announced its approval of ten uranium new enrichment plants and further stated that it was planning to intensify the enrichment levels. These actions have led to a declaration by IAEA’s new director to announce that he has fears that Iran was producing nuclear weapons. The ‘dual-track’ approach to Iran’s nuclear plan is one approach that has been adopted; when proposed by Brazil and Turkey, the US government watched at a distance, and it is not until recently that the government-backed it up (LaFranchi 2010, 6). President Barrack Obama gave a statement saying that fuel swap and sanction against Iran should continue, thus backing the ‘dual-track’ approach.

Research Methodology

Primary data collection and Secondary data collection are the two main data collection in any research. In this research, I mainly relied on the Secondary data collection to collect my materials from the internet. I also relied mainly on published work to get the author’s view on this topic.


The fight by the U.S administrations to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons seems to be hitting a dead-end (Orr 2010, 112). One approach that the U.S administration should take is to comprehensively verify that indeed the program by Iran is not for peaceful purposes and not lay claims that are not backed up by evidence. It should also hold diplomatic dialogues in an attempt to persuade Iran to halt its enrichment program (Cordesman & Toukan 2009, 12)

According to Boyle (1985), “U.S should stop its stubbornness when dealing with the issue and sacrifice technical and flawless legal positions and fights” (194). The U.S should advocate for peaceful negotiations to strike a deal with Iran, as seen in the approach taken by Ford and Carter administration (JSTOR 2006, 20). Midwest Political Science Association (1979, 45) also calls for the U.S to encourage international meetings and exchanges to resolve the Iran issue once and for all and that the United States should come up with a consensus to hold talks with Iran (Kapteyn 1981, 112).


It is time for the U.S to take a different approach to deal with Iran. Putting sanctions and military attack approaches have failed to work and the U.S should stop insisting on the same. It should stop being stubborn as earlier suggested and hold talks with Iran and other nations to come up with a solution. It should also be certain and prove that Iran’s program is not for security purposes but a destructive one. Failure to put new measures will simply mean that the U.S is stuck in the same position and Iran will continue running its illegal program if there is any. Any attack on Iran as an approach might force Iran to reiterate, and a tag of war will ensue and therefore Prevention of loss of lives should be the US’s top priority in its bid to win.


Archibald, John and Austin. 2000. The American Political Science Review. New York: American Political Science Association.

Boyle, Anthony. 1985. World Politics: International Law. USA: Duke University Press.

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Burr, William. 2009. “US-Iran Nuclear Negotiations in 1970s Featured Nationalism & US weapons Worries” The National Security Archive. Web.

Calabresi, Massimo. 2003. “Iran’s Nuclear Threat.” Time World, Web.

Clayde, Gary. 2008. Economic Sanctions Reconsidered. Washington: Peterson Institute.

Cordesman, Anthony and Toukan Abdulla. 2009. “Study on a Possible Israeli Strike on Iran’s Nuclear Development Facilities” Centre for Strategic & International Studies. Web.

Dannreuther, Roland. 2007. International Security: The Contemporary Agenda. New York: Polity Press.

International Studies Association. 1982. “International Security and Relations” International Studies Quarterly: 26. Academic Search Premier. Web.

JSTOR, 2006. “Holding Peaceful Negotiations.” Journal of Peace Research: 14-15. Academic Search Premier.

Kapteyn, Paul. 1981. International Organisation and Integration. Netherlands: Martinus Nilhaff Publishers.

Khan, Saira. 2009. Iran and Nuclear Weapons. New York: Publisher Routledge.

LaFranchi, Howard. 2010. “America’s New ‘Dual Track’ Approach to Iran Nuclear Program.” The Christian Science Monitor. Web.

Leonard, Barry. 2007. Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities National Intelligence Estimate. New York: Diane Publishing

Midwest Political Science Association, 1979. “Nuclear Weapons Intentions” American Journal of Political Science: 23 Academic Search Premier. Web.

Mousarin, Hussein, 2008. Iran-Europe Realtions: Challenges and Opportunities. Milton Park: Routledge.

Orr, Jamra, 2010. Understanding Iran and Nuclear Weapons. New York: Rosen Publishing Group,Inc.

Phillip, Catherine. 2009. “Iran Threatens to Pull Out of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.” The Sunday Times. Web.

Rajaee, Farhang. 1993. The Iran-Iraq War: The Politics of Aggression. USA: University Press of Florida.

Slavin, Barbara, 2009. Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, The U.S and the Twisted Path to Confrontation. Michigan: St. Martins Press.

Timmerman, Kenneth. 2006. Countdown to Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown With Iran. New York: Three River Press

Zaterein, Allen, 2008. Tanker War: America’s First Conflict with Iran, 1987-1988. New York: Casemate Pub & Book Dist. Inc

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