June 21, 2019

Reckless US Actions Against Iran Could Push Tehran to Build Nuclear Weapons

Statement by Lisbeth Gronlund, Co-Director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Global Security Program

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (June 21, 2019)—President Trump approved a military strike against Iran last night and then reversed course after the strike was underway but before any missiles were launched, according to recent press reports. Trump’s political advisors reportedly pushed for such an attack, while Pentagon officials argued against it, pointing out that a military conflict could spiral out of control and put US forces in the region at risk.

Below is a statement by Lisbeth Gronlund, co-director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Global Security Program.

“The Trump administration’s reckless approach to Iran not only risks a devastating military conflict, it also increases the odds that Tehran will build nuclear weapons.

“The administration’s military threats come on top of its withdrawal from the multilateral Iran deal, which constrains Iran’s ability to produce the fissile materials needed to make a nuclear weapon, and its decision to increase sanctions. These actions only strengthen the hand of Iranian hardliners who want to build nuclear weapons.

“If the administration’s goal is to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, diplomacy is the only viable option. For its part, Congress must reassert its constitutional authority to declare war and demand that the administration pursue diplomacy and not initiate a military strike without its explicit approval.

“The planned US strike was in response to Iran shooting down a US drone operating near the Iranian border. Iran claims the drone was in Iranian airspace, while the United States claims it was flying over international waters.

“The United States should request a UN Security Council session to review the claims and counterclaims regarding the drone and the attacks on oil tankers in the Straits of Hormuz.

“More broadly, this growing conflict is the result of the Trump administration’s counterproductive disdain for international agreements of all types. In addition to withdrawing from the nuclear agreement with Iran, the administration has pulled out of the Paris climate accord and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia. US national security is undermined by these actions.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.