Washington, DC – Failure to reach a nuclear deal with Iran will not lead to a continuation of the current status quo, but rather a deterioration of the situation with severe military, economic and security consequences. This is the conclusion of a new NIAC Policy Memo published today analyzing the consequences of a diplomatic failure between the U.S. and Iran.
The Policy Memo will be presented today at an event at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC at 2.30pm.
The military consequences of not reaching a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran have been clearly defined by the White House: “You close the door on diplomacy, and you’re left only with a choice between a possible military option or Iran steadily advancing its nuclear program.”
But fully eliminating Tehran’s nuclear program – as some in Congress advocate – will require a U.S. invasion and occupation of Iran. This will involve at least 500,000 U.S. troops and a 10-year occupation. Moreover, it will lead to the death of thousands of U.S. service women and men, tens of thousand wounded, and millions disabled – more than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
“Nothing demonstrates the effects of a deal more so than the fact that talk of war during these last 6 months of the interim deal has essentially been reduced to zero,” said NIAC president Trita Parsi.
The economic consequences will be devastating too. The cost of a full-scale invasion and occupation of Iran – in the first three months alone – is estimated at $2.8 trillion.
On the nuclear front, rather than reduce the threat of Iran’s nuclear program, the Iranians are likely to escalate their nuclear activities under no deal – and if attacked, an Iranian nuclear bomb will become a near-certainty.
The international reaction to the collapse of talks will also be important. If the U.S. is deemed responsible for the failure of diplomacy, then the international sanctions regime is likely to unravel. This would break the international consensus the Obama administration carefully built up against Iran.
Beyond the military and economic impact on Iran, diplomatic failure will have a profound impact on the future direction of Iran’s domestic and foreign policies.
If Rouhani has nothing to show for his diplomatic efforts, the political pendulum will swing back in favor of the hardliners. Iran will likely become more repressive internally and more assertive externally. Pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders in Iran warn that they will suffer perhaps their greatest blow yet, potentially setting back their struggle a full generation.
“Clarity about the consequences of failing to reach a deal must exist in order not to let the perfect become the enemy of the good,” said NIAC Research Director Reza Marashi. “Rather than adhering to the mantra of ‘No deal is better than a bad deal,’ the inverse relationship must be considered: A good nuclear deal is better than war.”
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NIAC is a Washington, DC-based 501 c(3) non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the interests of the Iranian-American community. NIAC is funded through donations from the Iranian-American community as well as grants from the Ploughshares Fund, ARCA Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, among others. For more information about the organization, please visit niacouncil.org.Back to top