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Iran’s National Security Policy

Auteur : Shahram Chubin
Éditeur : Carnegie Endowment Date & Lieu : 1994, Washington
Préface : Geoffrey Kemp Pages : 110
Traduction : ISBN : 0-87003-031-0
Langue : AnglaisFormat : 150x215 mm
Code FIKP : Liv. Eng. Chu. Ira. N° 2906Thème : Général

Table des Matières Introduction Identité PDF
Iran’s National Security Policy

Iran’s National Security Policy

Shahram Chubin

Carnegie Endowment

Iran was defeated by Iraq in a brutal eight year war that ended in July 1985. Thirty months later Iraq itself was defeated by the allied forces assembled in Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Storm. Iran’s military leaders have carefully examined the reasons for their own defeat and why the allies won. Iran is now embarked on a major rearmament program which has alarmed its neighbors and caused much concern in Washington. How dangerous is the Iranian military build -up and what are the strategic objectives of the Islamic regime? This book addresses these important issues in the context of the dangerous, perplexing and ever changing regional politics of the Persian Gulf.

Shahram Chubin is the co-author (with Charles Tripp) of Iran and Iraq at War, (Westview-/L.B, Tauris, 1988) and an independent.


In July 1988 Iran sued for peace in its brutal eight year war with Iraq. It was a humiliating moment, the more so because in the early days of the conflict Iran had won a number of impressive battles and had pushed the Iraqi invaders back across the Shatt al-Arab. These victories were squandered in a foolish offensive to invade Iraq with the purpose of overthrowing the Saddam Hussein regime and eventually the Arab monarchies of the Gulf. Once this policy was adopted, Iran became a pariah throughout most of the Arab world and in the West. Two principal factors contributed to Iran’s military defeat: Ayatollah Khomeini’s mistaken belief that infantry tactics based on human wave assaults by teenagers armed with the Koran could overwhelm the well equipped Iraqi heretics and the international arms embargo against Iran orchestrated by the United States which was particularly successful in crippling Iran’s air power.

Two and a half years later Iran witnessed Iraq’s precipitous reversal of fortune as allied air and ground forces defeated Saddam Hussein’s victorious army in a matter of weeks. Yet the allied victory was a hardly a moment for Iran to savor; it demonstrated with brutal clarity the comparative weaknesses of the regime’s much reduced military forces. It was therefore inevitable that Iran would embark on a rearmament program and seek, at the same time, to minimize the impact of future embargoes by diversifying its sources of new weapons and increasing its indigenous capacity to produce arms. Another, more ominous lesson is that Iran, like other radical but weak countries, may now see the cost-benefit advantages of weapons of mass destruction and adopt a multifaceted program to develop its own nuclear weapons.

Because Iran is such an important player in the Persian Gulf and because the United States has committed itself to the security of its Arab allies, no political settlement of Gulf conflicts, let alone arms control initiatives, are possible so long as these two countries remain enemies. For this reason the Carnegie Endowment’s Project on Middle East Arms Control thought it important to undertake an objective and thorough study of Iran’s security requirements, the nature and pace of the current Iranian rearmament program and the threats these developments pose for regional security.

Shahram Chubin is a distinguished Iranian scholar and former Director for Regional Security Studies at London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies. He brings to the task a well established reputation as a fair but forceful critic and interpreter of the arcane world of Tehran politics and strategy. Chubin argues that the regime “remains hostile to the United States and its allies and unreconciled to the current international order.” Furthermore “Iran retains a capacity to act as a spoiler and irritant in a region of endemic instability...” However Chubin makes a persuasive case for not exaggerating the impact of the current Iranian military buildup.
He writes that “Iran’s military arsenal, even when anticipated deliveries are counted, remains smaller than it was at the beginning of the revolution.” While correctly highlighting the uncertainties and dangers concerning Iran’s nuclear program, Chubin believes that “Iran’s conventional arms program commands more attention than its operational capacities warrant.” Chubin’s study adds immeasurably to our knowledge and understanding of one of the most vexing strategic issues in the Middle East.

Geoffrey Kemp
Director, Middle East Arms Control Project
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


With the end of the cold war, two international threats have become more prominent: the proliferation of the weapons of mass destruction in the Third World and the emergence of a virulent strain of Islamic anti-Western militance, frequently referred to as “Islamic fundamentalism.” Since its inception in 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran, a self-proclaimed revolutionary state, has trumpeted its anti-Western rhetoric and its support for forces opposed to the West and the United States. It fought a long and costly war with its neighbor Iraq and witnessed the quick and decisive defeat of the same enemy by allied forces during the Gulf War. Iran is now embarked upon a program of defense modernization that encompasses weapons of mass destruction and missiles, while continuing to preach a radical ideology. An assessment of precisely how dangerous a threat Iran is to Persian Gulf oil supplies and other U.S. interests in the Middle East is urgently needed.

The Iranian regime is not easy to understand. There is a gap between its rhetoric and its actions; between its sense of grievance and its inflammatory behavior; and between its ideological and national interests. Nor are its actions consistent. However, it remains hostile to the United States and its allies and unreconciled to the current international order. It has not renounced its revolutionary aims and it continues to support international terrorism. Its ideology remains a potent motive force, and it seeks to exploit weakness where it can— locally in the Persian Gulf, regionally in the wider Middle East as well as farther afield.

In many respects the Islamic Republic has little to commend itself to others either as a model for revolution or as a strategic ally. However Iran retains a capacity to act as a spoiler and irritant in a region of endemic instability full of opportunities for subversion and intimidation. For this reason alone, Iran’s military programs require examination. Their scope and pace, if sustained, could pose a threat to regional and Western interests. Development of certain conventional capabilities could cause problems for the United States and its allies. Of even greater concern, however, are the unanswered questions about the scope of Iran’s nonconven-tional weapons programs and its intentions for them. Drawing inferences of intentions from procurement and acquisition policies can be misleading, but such a method of analysis also raises legitimate doubts as to the dangers Iran’s possession of chemical, biological and nuclear capabilities and missile delivery systems poses locally, regionally and internationally.

This book seeks to define Iran’s national security policy based on its relevant experience and assess its implications. These serve as the context and the conditioning factors underlying its military programs. Chapter …


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