An Israeli or American attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would make it more, not less, likely that the Iranian regime would decide to produce and deploy nuclear weapons. Such an attack would also make it more, not less, difficult to contain Iranian influence.
We therefore recommend that the United States pursue a set of graduated diplomatic objectives, seeking first to halt the Iranian nuclear program short of weaponization while retaining the leverage to secure Iran’s eventual compliance with all its NPT obligations. Iran is seeking nuclear weapons for some combination of security, influence, and prestige; thus, persuading Iran that violating the NPT will only confirm its pariah status is the best way to dissuade it from crossing that threshold. No effort at persuasion can begin, though, until the United States acknowledges that the Iranian nuclear program might not be reversed and thus commences preparations to deal with the consequences.