National security and military strategies denote guidelines established by countries with the intent to promote their safety and wellbeing. These strategies inform countries’ defense and offense approaches to ensure prompt and effective mitigation against immediate and future threats. National security and military strategies comprise policies that are unique to countries. They constitute written or verbal positions communicated either directly or indirectly by Heads of States and reflect a nation’s national ideologies, goals, and global influence. These strategies continue to shape the global landscape concerning hegemony and resource allocations, thus, affecting international relations, foreign policy, and regional and global stability. Owing to their national importance, it is arguable that national security and military strategies are public documents that ought to be accessible to the public for scrutiny. However, due to concerns over American and Israeli aggression, the Islamic Republic of Iran adopts a classified approach to its strategies, leaving analysts and researchers to construct these guidelines from a mosaic of information available on the subject matter. Such secrecy regarding matters of national and public interests often promotes distrust among nations, which contributes to tensions that require policy interventions to avert conflicts. This paper proffers an assessment of Iran’s national security and military strategy to examine the efficacy of the country’s policies concerning containment and détente efforts, and evaluates the possibilities of nuclear disarmament without the need for a regime change.
While national security strategies differ among countries, certain elements characterize these policy documents. The core components of a national security strategy are government endorsement, accurate representation of national values, concise articulation of national interests, clear pronouncement of national strategic vision, risk assessment, clearly defined period, efficacy evaluators, and basic implementation guidelines. Iran’s national security strategy attests to its strategic culture, which comprises a “confluence and contestation between history, ideology, religion, and modernity”. Iran’s ultimate strategic goals and objectives include safeguarding the country’s regime, national sovereignty, security, prosperity, and revolutionary ideals. This involves containing or defeating both internal and external threats as they arise. The strategy also includes augmenting the country’s influence on a regional and global scale, and supporting the country’s long-term development through balanced resource utilization and geopolitical engagements. To achieve these objectives, Iran leverages its security apparatus and regional associations to develop and deploy military strategies that protect its economic, geopolitical, and wider national interests.
Security strategies inform the military approaches adopted by a country. Iran’s military strategy primarily consists of defensive measures that serve containment and détente purposes. The overwhelming consensus regarding Iran’s defensive military strategy indicates that either the country is under constant pressure to ward off potential threats, or it suffers the capacity to institute offensive policies. An examination of available text affirms both hypotheses. Iran’s military strategy draws inspiration from five key factors. The first factor is the underlying distrust and confrontational undertones between Iran and the US. The second driver is Iran’s need to secure its borders without reliance on external military aid. The third component informing Iran’s military strategy is the need to develop military technologies using limited resources occasioned by decades of sanctions. The fourth factor is a mismatch between available security resources and perceived threats, which informs the country’s asymmetric warfare strategy. Asymmetric warfare comprises the development of niche capabilities that leverage Iran’s strengths. These include a large number of soldiers and a willingness to accept casualties. This warfare approach allows the country to focus on exploiting the weaknesses of opponents who are likely to be risk averse, sensitive to casualties, and heavily reliant on technology. The fifth and final contributor is the country’s geopolitical position in a region characterized by competing and conflicting interests, which promote a strong US presence. Among these drivers, geopolitical position and limited resources constitute the most significant. Iran’s neighbors include several unstable and predominantly hostile states, such as Afghanistan. Moreover, its military strategy largely arises from its foreign relations policies with- and tensions between- the US and Israel. The country’s foreign policy revolves around confronting America’s position as a global power. Unfortunately, Iran suffers from a lack of economic and technological capacity, which affects its ability to cultivate and maintain a strong military perception, and hence, informs its military approach and policies.
National security and military policy options available to Iran include the utilization of its military arsenal. As presently constituted, Iran’s warfare strategy largely involves the use of long-range missiles capable of reaching its neighboring countries. Although lacking a modern air force, Iran has the largest missile force in the Middle East. As early as 2007, Iran’s arsenal included missiles that were capable of hitting targets up to 2000km away. At the same time, the country maintains naval capabilities that leverage the country’s strategic position along the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. From these locations, Iran benefits from layered maritime capabilities that include ship- and shore-launched anti-ship ballistic missiles and air defenses, which could support a nuclear policy in the country.
Nuclear warfare denotes the use of nuclear weaponry in military conflicts. The devastation occasioned by nuclear weapons during the Second World War prompted agreements between the US and the U.S.S.R. to discourage their use in warfare, contributing to the sustained abstinence from nuclear warfare witnessed today. However, with growing emphasis on hegemony status among nations, the development of nuclear weapons continues to pose a threat to global peace and stability. Iran began research into nuclear energy in 1967. Since then, it has attracted conflict with the US, which has expressed concern regarding Iran’s possible use of nuclear technology to develop advanced weaponry. The use of nuclear weapons by Iran is a viable strategy for Iran’s national security and military policies. Iran’s nuclear program appears to be a means more than an end in the country’s quest for regional dominance. Although the nuclearization of its military defies the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty, it is an effective national security and military policy for the country, particularly in combination with its maritime capabilities. Nuclear weapons serve as effective deterrents, and this function benefits Iran’s primary defensive strategy. At the same time, it increases the country’s confidence among its hostile neighbors. This promotes regional peace and stability without the need for a regime change in Iran, further illustrating the suitability of nuclearization as a national security and military policy.
National security and military strategies inform countries’ security policies and other decisions. These strategies influence a country’s foreign policies, international relations, self-reliance, and overall wellbeing, and rely on adequate access to financial and military resources. Iran suffers from limited economic and technology resources, which complicates its security and military policy formulation. Nonetheless, the country leverages its military personnel, asymmetrical warfare approach, maritime resources, and missile arsenal to mount strategies and policies aimed at deterrence and containment. However, while such strategies have served Iran’s national and regional objectives, these goals could benefit from policies concerning the nuclearization of the country’s weaponry. Thus, available security and military policies for Iran revolve around enhancing its ballistic and nuclear capacities.
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