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Is a Nuclear Iran a National Security Threat to the USA?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/2/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 786 times Debate No: 21649
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Argument: If Iran were to have a nuclear weapon would it be a threat to the United States?

Structure of Debate

Round 1: Acceptance.
Round 2: Opening Arguments.
Round 3: Counter-Arguments.
Round 4: Closing Arguments.


I accept this debate. Regards to my opponent for putting up such a stimulating topic. :)
Debate Round No. 1


I thank my opponent for accepting my challenge.

Iran has been striving to acquire a reliable source of nuclear power and recently they have made progress in attaining this goal. The international community believes strongly that Iran's intentions are to create a nuclear weapon, and some believe that Iran is capable of using it against it's classic enemy, Israel. For the purpose of this argument we'll assume that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon and that in the near future they will have several capable of striking targets anywhere in the Middle East.

I believe strongly that the actions of Iran are simply reactions to geopolitical pressure, and that the building of a nuclear weapon is a defensive measure. The Iranian government rightfully assumes that once they get a nuclear weapon, foreign powers will be likely to respect her national sovereignty. Furthermore Iran knows that it must show a willingness to use such a weapon, hence the tough rhetoric of the hardliners in the Iranian government. One might ask themselves, "where did Iran learn these assumptions?"

They learned these assumptions from American foreign policy. They learned that the West was willing and able to intervene in any Middle Eastern country under the pretext of a perceived or even existential threat. These military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq strengthened the resolve of Iran to protect itself by developing a nuclear weapon. Furthermore they learned from North Korea that having a nuclear weapon and showing a willingness to use it was a viable form of protection against the West.

Now we must understand the difference between an implied threat and an actual threat. Iran implies that it will use a nuclear weapon, but the Iranians know that using one or even selling one to someone whom will use it, will lead to a unilateral or even multilateral military action by the West against Iran. Through action the Iranian government has shown that it values survival over rhetoric, and that rhetoric is used to increase their chances for survival.

In regards to a threat to Israel, I believe that it highly unlikely for the weapon to be used on Israel without a nuclear weapon first being used on Iran. Pakistan and India are classical enemies, whom have gone to war before and after each government developed nuclear weapons. The same religious and political pressure is present between Pakistan and India, that is present between Iran and Israel. Yet neither country has used a nuclear weapon against their opponent.

In conclusion, Iran is not a fanatical country dedicated to the nuclear annihilation of Israel. They are a sane state, with sane goals, and sane logic behind these goals. If they attain a nuclear weapon they will join the nuclear club; which includes countries such as a communist China, Isolationist North Korea, Islamic Pakistan, and a decentralized and corrupt Russian government.


Thanks goes to my opponent for posting his arguments. My arguments will surround the explanation that an Iran with nuclear capabilities would be a serious national security threat to the United States if not anyone who is an enemy to the country of Iran, and this is shown by the following evidence and points.

1. The US-Iran foreign relations are not only poor, but incredibly hostile.
Iran has been a fierce opponent of the United States, threatening hostilities against the United States during the Bush and Obama administrations:

"SUPERFICIALLY, the case for containment looks remarkably good. The concept has a distinguished American pedigree; it has room for tactical, diplomatic, and strategic maneuver; it was practiced over many decades by Republican and Democratic administrations alike; it suggests a counsel of mature patience against naïve calls for accommodation
and impetuous calls for military action. And, of course, it ultimately delivered the (mostly bloodless) surrender of the Soviet Union in the Cold War. Perhaps the most convincing case put forward in favor of the containment of a nuclear Iran is that it is the best of a bad set of options. Many of containment's current advocates are former supporters of
engagement with Iran. Having invested their hopes in President Obama's "outstretched hand," they now understand that Iran's hostility to the United States was not merely a reaction to the policies of the Bush administration but rather is fundamental to the regime's identity. The Islamic republic, it turns out, really means what it says when it chants "Death to America."

2. The Iran government has had terrorist groups as cohorts.

"Iran’s use of terrorism has changed dramatically since the 1980s. Most importantly from a U.S. point of view, Iran appears not to target Americans directly, although it still retains the capability to do so and in Iraq some groups with links to Iran have fought with coalition forces. Iran instead uses terrorism as a form of deterrence, “casing” U.S. embassies and other facilities to give it a response should the United States step up pressure. Tehran also dramatically cut back on operations in Europe and the Gulf states since the early 1990s. Iranian officials feared that attacks on Iranian dissidents there would lead to European support for sanctions and reduce investment in Iran’s economy. In the mid-1990s, Iran’s then President AliAkbar Hashemi Rafsanjani engineered a rapprochement with the Arabian Gulf states, which led Iran to stop actively trying to overthrow those regimes, though it retains ties to a number of Shi’a groups there. Taken together, these three shifts represent a dramatic change in Iran’s support for terrorism.
Today, Iran uses terrorism and support for radicals in several distinct ways. Particularly important for the United States are Tehran’s close relationship with the Lebanese Hizballah; support for anti-Israel Palestinian groups; ties to various factions within Iraq; and loose contacts with Al Qaeda."
3. The government of Iran is unstable.

Sub-point 1a: The economy of Iran has faltered.
"Despite high international oil prices in recent years, the contribution of the oil and gas sector to economic growth has been more modest. Iran’s oil economy has been faced with low levels of production and inadequate investment.
U.S. and U.N. sanctions levied against Iran, along with the poor domestic business environment, may contribute to low levels of investment. In recent years, Iran’s economic growth has been hampered by double-digit rates of inflation.
Although high inflation is widespread among the oil-exporting countries in the Middle East and
Central Asia, Iran has one of the highest. Iran’s average Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation level was above 25% at year-end 2008. Through 2009, the CPI inflation level dropped, but remained above 13%. For 2010, budgetary constraints are expected to reduce inflation further. By some estimates, if Iran implements the recently passed subsidy reform bill, then inflation will rise again as the price of food, utilities, education, and other goods and services increases. Domestic factors contributing to the uptick in inflation include expansionary government economic policies and growing consumption demands. External factors include international sanctions against Iran and rising international food and energy import prices. Inflation levels have been associated with Ahmadinejad’s efforts to curb banking interest rates for loans to subinflation levels. The Central Bank, the Bank Markazi, has opposed these hikes. The unemployment rate remains high, reaching an estimated 11.8% in 2008. Some observers contend that the unemployment rate is higher than figures reported by the Iranian government. At least one-fifth of Iranians lived below the poverty line in 2002."
"The poorest countries, withsubstantial social and political tensions created by economic scarcity, could be most unstable and thus most apt to use repression in order to maintain control" (Mitchell and McCormick 1988,478)

Sub-point 1b: Iran has had many cases of human rights abuses.

Byman, Daniel. Iran, Terrorism, and Weapons of Mass Destruction. Rep. Georgetown University, Mar. 2008. Web. <;.

Ilias, Shyreah. Iran's Economic Conditions: US Policy Issues. Rep. Congressional Research Service, 22 Apr. 2010. Web. <;.

Poe, Steven C., and C. N. Tate. "Repression of Human Rights to Personal Integrity in the 1980s: A Global Analysis." American Political Science Review 88.4 (1994): 853-72. Jstor. University of North Texas. Web. <;.

Stephens, Bret. "Iran Cannot Be Contained." Editorial. The Wall Street Journal [Manhattan, New York] July-Aug. 2010: 61-70. The Wall Street Journal. Web. <;.

Debate Round No. 2


MrBrooks forfeited this round.


ScarletGhost4396 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


MrBrooks forfeited this round.


ScarletGhost4396 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
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1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:02 
Reasons for voting decision: sources (she had them). Both had poor arguments as neither of you refuted each others arguments therefore I tie arguments.