Iran’s nuclear ambitions create enormously challenging issues with no easy solutions. In the public debate during the last year, a recurring concern has been the economic risks posed by the available means for preventing a nuclear Iran, whether tough sanctions or military action. Such economic risks are a legitimate concern. They deserve to be discussed and understood. However, to make an informed judgment about which policy to pursue, our public discussion must consider not just the costs of stopping Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but also the costs of failing to do so.
Inaction, too, exposes the United States to economic risks. This paper aims to give them substance and describe what they might be. Its purpose is to imagine the world with a nuclear Iran and examine just one dimension of the consequences: the impact on global oil prices and the resulting effect on the U.S. economy.