, Volume 91, Number 4

Wyn Bowen and Matthew Moran

For the past decade, much attention has been devoted to the potential consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran. Yet the binary ‘acquisition/restraint’ lens through which the Iranian nuclear issue is frequently viewed is limiting. There is now much evidence to suggest that Iran is engaged in a strategy based on nuclear hedging, rather than an outright pursuit of the bomb.

This does not change the need to contain Tehran’s proliferation potential, yet it does add another layer of complexity to the challenge. Iran will retain a low level of latency whatever the final outcome of longstanding diplomatic efforts to constrain the scope and pace of its nuclear efforts. This article will explore the implications of Iranian nuclear hedging and consider how regional rivals might interpret and respond to Tehran’s nuclear strategy. On a larger scale, the article will explore the potential impact of the international community’s approach to the Iranian case—implicitly recognizing, even giving legitimacy to, hedging—both in terms of the future of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the ability of the international community to limit the negative effects of this form of proliferation behaviour.

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