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If Iran is building a nuclear bomb, what action should the U.S. take, if any?

Protesters against Iranian nuclear weapons gather in front of the United Nations, New York, 2010.
Protesters against Iranian nuclear weapons gather in front of the United Nations, New York, 2010.
Yana Paskova/Getty Images

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A comprehensive report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which relied on satellite photos and intelligence, shows credible evidence that Iran is attempting to make a nuclear explosive device.

Iranian officials deny the charge and claim the evidence is fabricated and have discredited the report as propaganda. The executive director of the American Jewish Committee, David Harris, warns that the situation “demands immediate, coordinated, international action.”

The accusation that Iran is trying to create a nuclear bomb is not new and the U.S. has issued sanctions against the country for years, but should more action be taken? Both the Bush and Obama administrations have argued that an airstrike wouldn’t be effective and would run the risk of pushing Iran’s nuclear program further underground. A top Iranian official said that any military action toward Iran would make a battlefield of Europe and the United States. Both Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have Iran squarely on their radar and are investigating options.


What impact will the IAEA’s report have on the United States’ policy on Iran? How will Israel’s pleas for actions inter into the mix? Does this report highlight a real and imminent threat or is it being used as a build-up to military action?


David Harris, executive director, American Jewish Committee

Jim Walsh, International security expert at MIT's Security Studies Program

Joseph Cirincione, president, Ploughshares Fund

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