On October 12, the Atlantic Council’s Iran Task Force and the Middle East Program of the Woodrow Wilson Center hosted a discussion about the consequences for the Iranian people of threatened attacks on Iran’s nuclear installations.

Khosrow B. Semnani presented the findings of his new report, ‘The Ayatollah’s Nuclear Gamble,’ which offers a detailed, scientific discussion of the human and environmental consequences of a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.

pdfDownload the report

The report and the discussion highlight a largely overlooked issue in the intensifying public debate in the United States over the wisdom of using military force to try to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

The Iran Task Force, co-chaired by Atlantic Council Chairman Senator Chuck Hagel and Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat, seeks to perform a comprehensive analysis of Iran’s internal political landscape, its role in the region and globally, and any basis for an improved relationship with the West.

Introduced and moderated by

Barbara Slavin
Senior Fellow, South Asia Center
Atlantic Council

Haleh Esfandiari
Director, Middle East Program
Woodrow Wilson Center

A discussion with

Khosrow B. Semnani
Author, ‘The Ayatollah’s Nuclear Gamble’

Commentary by

Robert Litwak
Vice President for Scholars
Director of International Security Studies
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

The Iran Task Force is generously sponsored by the Ploughshares Fund.

Khosrow B. Semnani is the author of The Ayatollah’s Gamble: The Human Costs of Military Strikes Against Iran’s Nuclear Facilities, published jointly by the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, and Omid for Iran, a nonprofit based in Salt Lake City, Utah.   An engineer and entrepreneur by profession,  Mr. Semnani completed his early education in Iran, and earned dual Bachelor of Science degrees in chemistry and physics from Salt Lake City’s Westminster College (1972), and a Masters of Engineering Administration degree from the University of Utah (1977).  For more than three decades, he has supported various educational initiatives that enhance understanding of Iranian history, culture, language, and civilization. He has provided funding for conferences at universities including Chicago and the University of California at Santa Barbara. Mr. Semnani served for eight years as vice chairman and for three years as chairman of the Board of Trustees for Encyclopedia Iranica. Located at Columbia University, the Encyclopedia Iranica is a comprehensive research tool dedicated to the study of Iranian civilization in the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Indian subcontinent.  He is currently a member of the National Advisory Board of the Middle East Center at University of Utah.  
Haleh Esfandiari is the director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. Her writing has appeared in Foreign Policy, Journal of Democracy, Princeton Papers in Near Eastern Studies, New Republic, Wilson Quarterly, Chronicle of Higher Education, Middle East Review, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Review of Books as well as the Daily Beast and the blogs of the New York Review of Books, the New Republic, and the Iran Primer. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She serves on the Board of the Peace Research Endowment and on the board of advisors for the Project on Middle East Democracy. She is also a member of a MENA Advisory Panel to the World Bank. Her latest book, My Prison, My Home: One Woman’s Story of Captivity in Iran, based on Esfandiari’s arrest by the Iranian security authorities in 2007, after which she spent 105 days in solitary confinement in Tehran’s Evin Prison.

Barbara Slavin is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center and Washington correspondent for Al-Monitor.com, a website devoted to news from and about the Middle East. The author of a 2007 book, Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, the US and the Twisted Path to Confrontation, she is a regular commentator on US foreign policy and Iran on NPR, PBS, and C-SPAN. A career journalist, Ms. Slavin previously served as assistant managing editor for world and national security of the Washington Times, senior diplomatic reporter for USA Today, Cairo correspondent for The Economist, and as an editor at the New York Times Week in Review.


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