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Title: Iran's status-seeking foreign policy through the prism of the nuclear issue : the Ahmadinejad presidency, 2005-2013
Author: Colleau, Morgane Harmonie
ISNI:       0000 0004 5922 2812
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis adopts a Wendtian constructivist perspective in order to explore how Iran defined its interests in the context of the nuclear issue during the Ahmadinejad presidency. Against realist-type approaches which often attributed a nuclear weapons rationale to Iran and framed its programme as a threat to international security, it argues that Iran’s nuclear policy must be interpreted within the context of its identity and the latter’s causal and constitutive effects on its interests and behaviours. The Wendtian perspective, together with a mixed methods approach combining document analysis and interviews, sheds light on how Iran understood its interests and why the regime perceived opportunities/threats and permissible/unacceptable options in the way it did. This thesis demonstrates that Iran’s nuclear programme was interpreted within a structure of meaning that emphasised its legality and legitimacy. Additionally, it shows that the Ahmadinejad administration’s resistance strategies cannot be understood outside the context of the perceived humiliating failure of the Khatami administration’s confidence-building approach. Not only had Iran’s reputation and independence been jeopardised, but its failure to secure recognition of its nuclear rights also confirmed that the issue was a Western-led manufactured crisis that aimed to undermine the IRI, prevent the development of the Iranian nation and transform the IAEA’s mandate. Iran thus engaged in strategies of self-assertion to challenge the perceived illegal and illegitimate policies of its negotiation partners, the UNSC and the IAEA. Furthermore, this thesis contends that the Ahmadinejad administration sought to transform the diplomatic focus on its nuclear programme into multifaceted geopolitical opportunities. On the one hand, Iran attempted to situate the issue within the wider context of global debates around access to peaceful nuclear energy and the sustainability of the non-proliferation regime. Its denunciations of the Western NWSs’ discriminatory practices echoed with other states’ concerns. On the other hand, Iran’s proposals to the EU-3/P5+1 included repeated offers of cooperation on a range of dilemmas of common interests and aversion. As such, Iran pursued dual-track strategies towards its main nuclear opponents, combining enforcement costs with inducements. Finally, the belief that the US lay at the core of the nuclear issue prompted important debates and developments within Iran about the question of their bilateral relations. While these challenged conventional wisdoms about the principlists’ preferences, Iran’s discursive and ever-increasing strategic dependence on the US continued to explain its Janus-faced strategies towards the superpower.
Supervisor: Stansfield, Gareth Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Iran ; Nuclear issue ; Ahmadinejad Presidency ; Foreign Policy ; Alexander Wendt ; Constructivism