The Future of Nuclear Proliferation in the Middle East

Since Iran’s undisclosed nuclear activities came to light in 2002, the United States and a concert of other great powers have worked to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.  Led by Dr. Jim Walsh, an SSP Research Associate, this project investigates the foundational questions underlying the U.S. non-proliferation strategy in the Middle East.  It asks three questions.  First, will Iran acquire nuclear weapons?  Second, if Iran successfully acquires a nuclear weapons capacity, will other countries in the region follow suit?  Finally, what options do policymakers have to curtail proliferation in the Middle East, at what cost, and with what likelihood of success?

Working with former diplomats Thomas Pickering, William Luers, Frank Wisner, and William Miller, the project is inter-disciplinary in nature.  Drawing on scientific research, conversations with current and former Iranian officials, and meetings in the broader Middle East and Washington, Dr. Walsh and his colleagues continue to advance diplomatic solutions to avoid either Iranian acquisition of a nuclear weapon or the need for military efforts to undercut the Iranian program.

Related Publications:

“Egypt’s Nuclear Future: Proliferation or Restraint?” in Forecasting Proliferation, Stanford University Press, 2010

“Sanctions Can’t Be the Centerpiece,” in Room for Debate, New York Times, September 25, 2009

“How to Deal with Iran” (2009)

"A Solution for the US-Iran Nuclear Standoff" (2008)  in the New York Review of Books

“Iran’s Nuclear Program: Motivations, Consequences, and Options.” In Terrorist Attacks and Nuclear Proliferation: Strategies for Overlapping Dangers. New York: Academy of Political Science, 2007


This project is managed by Dr. Jim Walsh, a Research Associate at the MIT Security Studies Program.