Iran nuclear deal delays bomb by 10-15 years: IISS chief

UK think tank head agrees with P5+1 assessment that accord will prevent nuke proliferation, but lifted sanctions could mean arms race

Screen capture of an Iranian missile launch, October 10, 2015 (YouTube: PressTV News Videos)
Screen capture of an Iranian missile launch, October 10, 2015 (YouTube: PressTV News Videos)

LONDON — The deal between world powers and Iran has delayed Tehran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons by 10 to 15 years, the head of a top defense think-tank told AFP on Tuesday.

The agreement struck in Vienna in July between Iran and the permanent five members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5 plus one) sees sanctions progressively lifted in return for Tehran ensuring its nuclear program remains for civilian use.

“2015 was by and large a decent year for news on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” said John Chipman, the director-general and chief executive of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

“Principally because, of course, we did see in the last year the conclusion of the P5+1 agreement on the Iranian nuclear file.”

IISS think tank head John Chipman (AFP screenshot)
IISS think tank head John Chipman (AFP screenshot)

He was speaking after presenting the IISS’s annual assessment of the global balance of military power.

“There are lots of skeptics as to how good an arrangement that is but there is some consensus that at least that it has delayed for some 10 years, and possibly 15 years, the acquisition by Iran of a nuclear weapon,” he added.

“That’s good proliferation news for the year 2015-2016.”

At the same time, the IISS said the lifting of sanctions against Iran with the nuclear deal raises the possibility of Tehran modernizing its military equipment, much of which dates back to the 1970s.

This could lead to changes in the make-up of countries’ armaments in the region.

“Gulf states — aware that Iran will always have an edge in terms of force size — will likely look to procure yet more advanced weapons, for instance high-speed precision strike or cruise missiles that would allow them still to reliably engage military targets, even with more capable Iranian opposition,” the report said.

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