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Title: The nuclear policies of Iran : Islam and strategic thinking in the Islamic Republic
Author: Aghlani, Sasan
ISNI:       0000 0004 7431 2314
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2017
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The thesis follows a multidisciplinary approach, and adopts a critical methodology - rooted in techniques of discourse analysis and genealogy - in an effort to draw attention to the problems with continuing to assess Iran's strategic preferences within the parameters of ethnocentric paradigms of strategy. In this regard, it offers a critique of ontologies found in IR, strategic theory, and areas of Iranian Studies, and reconsiders the impact of Islam on Iran's nuclear trajectory based on a critical approach to understanding military jurisprudence from the perspectives of hermeneutics and epistemology. This thesis deconstructs some of the common portrayals of Iran's nuclear policies presented in today's academic and policy discourses. Specifically, it focuses on how the prospect of Iranian policies being guided by religious scholars is narrated by experts and commentators that confine Iranian strategic agency within one of two categories: Islamic fanaticism, or secular realism. Both of these approaches are situated within specific epistemological boundaries which the author critiques as the 'deterrence parameter'. In addition to deconstructing the prevailing narratives and discourses surrounding Iran's nuclear programme - and the epistemic parameters which discipline them - the author offers an Islamic framework as an alternative lens for analysing Iran's policies towards nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD) if we are to assume that religion does have some impact on Iranian policy-making. This framework is formed of three interrelated levels: Qur'anic ontology, secondary sources, and theology. It also draws from previous instances where Muslim theologians and jurists have confronted weapons capable of mass destruction in light of concepts such as maslahah (public interest). The author applies this framework in assessing the verdicts of Islamic scholars on nuclear weapons and other WMD in an attempt to provide a counter-narrative for where Iran's strategic preferences emerge from and where they may go in the future.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral