May 13, 2013

If All Else Fails: The Challenges of Containing a Nuclear-Armed Iran

Dr. Colin H. Kahl, Raj Pattani and Jacob Stokes argue in If All Else Fails: The Challenges of Containing a Nuclear-Armed Iran that the Obama administration is rightly committed to preventing – not containing – a nuclear-armed Iran, but add that prevention efforts, up to and including the use of force, could fail. Thus, they note, the United States could eventually be forced to shift to a policy of containment despite current preferences. Dr. Kahl, a CNAS Senior Fellow; Mr. Pattani, a Georgetown University security studies student; and Jacob Stokes, a CNAS Research Associate, outline a comprehensive framework to manage and mitigate the consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran based on what they call the “Five Ds.” These five steps would deter Iranian nuclear and conventional threats, defend the U.S. homeland and American allies, disrupt Tehran’s destabilizing activities, de-escalate regional crises, and eventually denuclearize Iran’s program. Such planning and preparation is needed, they say, “not because the United States wants to take this path, but because it may eventually become the only path left.”


  • Colin H. Kahl

    Middle East Security

    Dr. Colin H. Kahl is an associate professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and the former National Securi...

  • Jacob Stokes

    Senior Fellow, Indo-Pacific Security Program

    Jacob Stokes is a Senior Fellow for the Indo-Pacific Security Program at CNAS, where his work focuses on U.S.-China relations, Chinese foreign and military policy, East Asian ...

  • Raj Pattani

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