March 29, 2023

Disarming the Bomb: Distilling the Drivers and Disincentives for Iran's Nuclear Program

Washington, March 29, 2023—Today, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) released a new report, "Disarming the Bomb: Distilling the Drivers and Disincentives for Iran's Nuclear Program," from authors Jonathan Lord, Arona Baigal, Hunter Streling, and LCDR Stewart Latwin.

The report draws from a scenario exercise hosted by the CNAS Middle East Security Program in October 2022 to identify key factors that might accelerate or decelerate Iran’s nuclear program.

Overall observations from the exercise suggest that Iranian leadership’s primary concern is self-preservation and the pursuit of a nuclear program is secondary and, ultimately, serves to advance the primary objective of self-preservation.

The report authors identified trends and strategic considerations from the exercise that could inform real-world policy planning.

“The administration should consider what tools it can employ to make the nuclear program radioactive to Iran’s leadership,” write the authors. The report includes policy recommendations to re-shape the Iranian regime’s calculus on whether to advance its nuclear program.

"The exercise revealed that unity of effort, goals, and greater strategic cohesion between the United States, Israel, and Gulf state teams reduced the risk of miscalculation or unanticipated escalation with Iran," write the authors.

Read the full report for key insights from the exercise, along with actionable policy recommendations to U.S. policymakers.

For more information or to schedule an interview with the report authors, please contact Cameron Edinburgh at [email protected]

Middle East Security

Disarming the Bomb

Negotiations to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal, reached an impasse this past year. Further, Iran made parall...

Read More


  • Jonathan Lord

    Senior Fellow and Director, Middle East Security Program

    Jonathan Lord is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Middle East Security program at CNAS. Prior to joining CNAS, Lord served as a professional staff member for the House Arme...

  • Arona Baigal

  • Hunter Streling

    Former Intern, Middle East Security Program

    Hunter Streling is a former Joseph S. Nye, Jr. Intern for the Middle East Security program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Hunter is pursuing his MA in Inte...

  • LCDR Stewart Latwin

    Former Senior Military Fellow, U.S. Navy

    A native of Rye, NY, LCDR Stewart Latwin commissioned from the United States Naval Academy in 2008 and earned his Wings of Gold as a Naval Aviator in February 2010. LCDR Latwi...