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As Iran's nuclear program continues to evolve, U.S. decisionmakers will confront a series of critical policy choices involving complex considerations and policy trade-offs. These policy choices could include dissuading Iran from developing nuclear weapons and deterring Iran from using its nuclear weapons, if it were to acquire them. To be successful, the United States will need to find ways to influence Iran's calculations of costs and benefits as Iran pursues its national security interests (survival of the regime, protection of the homeland, and expansion of its regional influence). The United States will also need to reassure its partners in the region of the credibility of the U.S. deterrent posture so as to reduce the Gulf Cooperation Council states' potential interest in developing their own nuclear weapons and dissuade Israel from pursuing unilateral military actions or openly declaring its nuclear posture. The U.S. Air Force, supporting combatant commanders, will play a prominent role in implementing the policy choices, and so it needs to prepare by understanding the goals and timelines of potential military tasks and by designing exercises and war games to support different policy choices.

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