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Will Iran Build the Bomb?

For decades, a single question, perhaps more than any other, has dominated the debate around the Islamic Republic of Iran: "Will Iran Build the Bomb?" Renowned scholar and foreign policy expert John J. Mearsheimer sits down with Dr. Tytti Erasto and Dr. Mahsa Rouhi to discuss this question and the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran.

Date & Time

Mar. 17, 2022
11:00am – 12:30pm ET




Begun initially in the 1950s with support from American President Dwight D. Eisenhower's "Atoms for Peace" program, Iran's nuclear program once represented an example of the two nations' partnership. But following the rise of the Islamic Republic and subsequent disintegration of relations, the question of whether Iran will build the Bomb has come to define the relationship. The signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2015 proved a short-lived reprieve from the debate after the U.S. withdrawal just two years later under the Trump Administration.

Today, with negotiations  back under way between the Biden Administration and new Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, the world is again asking this same question. Dr. John J. Mearsheimer, Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago and renowned U.S. policy expert, will attempt to tackle this debate by looking at both Iran's behavior in the past and intentions for the future to create a realistic understanding of why its nuclear program has taken on such an important role in the Islamic Republic's foreign policy. He is joined in the discussion by Dr. Tytti Erästö of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and Dr. Mahsa Rouhi of the National Defense University.

Hosted By

History and Public Policy Program

The History and Public Policy Program makes public the primary source record of 20th and 21st century international history from repositories around the world, facilitates scholarship based on those records, and uses these materials to provide context for classroom, public, and policy debates on global affairs.  Read more

Middle East Program

The Wilson Center’s Middle East Program serves as a crucial resource for the policymaking community and beyond, providing analyses and research that helps inform US foreign policymaking, stimulates public debate, and expands knowledge about issues in the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.  Read more

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