Foreign Policy Blogs

U.S. Contingency Plans – Viable Solution to Iran's Nuclear Program?

On CNN yesterday, General David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command, told Christine Amanpour that in addition to diplomacy and sanctions, the US has developed contingency plans in order to deal with Iran’s refusal to curb its nuclear program. However, Petraeus was vague in his description and chose not to elaborate on the specifics of the plan. He assured Amanpour that the U.S. military has considered the impacts of any action taken towards Iran, stating “it would be almost literally irresponsible if CENTCOM [United States Central Command] were not to have been thinking about the various ‘what ifs’ and to make plans for a whole variety of different contingencies”.

Contingency plans, which are most often devised by governments and businesses, are “back up plans” devised for situations which have the potential to go awry. They include specific strategies and actions top deal with variances to assumptions resulting in a particular emergency or state of affairs.

Petraeus stressed that in this situation a contingency plan is important, because, as he stated on CNN, “Iran is holding out on a United Nations-backed deal on its nuclear program that includes enriching uranium. The country had until the end of 2009 to accept the deal offered by the “P5 plus one” — permanent U.N. Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany. Instead, Iran countered, giving the West until the end of January to accept its own proposal.”

Early last week, China urged intensified diplomacy efforts to diffuse the deepening tensions between Ira and the U.N., which rebuked Iran for carrying out its nuclear enrichment plans in secret. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qyin Gang stressed the importance of diplomacy, stating “We support protecting the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, and advocate resolution of the Iran nuclear issue through dialogue and negotiations. We believe that in the present circumstances the parties involved should continue intensifying diplomatic efforts,” he added. “Sanctions are not the goal.”

What does the contingency plan mean for diplomacy measures in Iran? Petraeus stated that he thinks there is still time to engage Iran in diplomacy, and that as of now, there is no deadline on putting the U.S. contingency plans into play. However, he told CNN that “there’s a period of time, certainly, before all this might come to a head, if you will.”

Read the CNN article here and the Chinese perspective here



Neshani Jani

FPA blogger Neshani Jani holds a Masters degree in Media Culture and Communication from New York University and dual Bachelors degrees in Anthropology and Spanish Literature from the University of California, Davis. She is a freelance writer and is currently helping to manage blog networks for the Foreign Policy Association and the Women's Education Project.

Neshani has a background in journalism and interned with the CBS News program 60 Minutes. Additionally, she is a public and internet radio veteran. She has worked as a research assistant at both the Social Science Research Council and at the Institute for Scientific Analysis and currently blogs for several of the Foreign Policy Association's global affairs blogs.