Al J. Venter, Iran's Nuclear Option: Tehran's Quest for the Bomb (New York: Casemate, 2005), 451 pp., $29.95.
No issue looms larger on the contemporary foreign policy agenda of the United States and its European allies than the Islamic Republic of Iran. Over the past three years, unmistakable signs that the Iranian regime is trying to acquire an offensive nuclear capability--and making serious progress toward that goal--have become an almost daily occurrence. Revelations of secret labs for advanced uranium enrichment, disclosures of new mining and refining stations, and elaborate diplomatic evasion tactics vis-à-vis the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) all speak to the Iranian regime's steadfast commitment to its aggressive national nuclear endeavor.
Tehran's advances have generated considerable consternation on both sides of the Atlantic. Echoing their counterparts in Washington, more than a few European officials have publicly warned of dire consequences if Iran succeeds in its atomic efforts. In practice, however, Europe's response has been accommodationist. Since last fall, in a throwback to its failed engagement policy toward the Islamic Republic of the 1990s, the European Union has pursued a diplomatic strategy aimed at blunting Tehran's atomic ambitions through economic inducements. As of this spring, for lack of a better alternative, the Bush Administration has grudgingly signed on to this approach, embracing a policy of economic carrots and diplomatic sticks intended to defuse Iran's nuclear drive.