Abstract

The mainstream neoconservative perception of the persisting global conflict surrounding Iran’s nuclear program generally casts the nation as pursuing nuclear weaponry with the nefarious intentions of undermining western security interests and using these capabilities against Israel or European nations. Conversely, realist and constructivist scholars suggest that Iran’s alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons is anything but irrational. Instead, Iran’s foreign policy represents a logical reaction to regional insecurities and collective identity formed by Iran’s history of past glory and subsequent marginalization, the mutual distrust between the U.S. and Iran following the ousting of the Shah, and Iran’s domestic political dynamics all contribute to the repeated failure to resolve current crisis. Assuming a realist and constructivist analytical framework, it is argued that efforts to coerce Iran into altering its foreign policy have failed due to a lack of understanding of the extent to which Iranian national identity affects its attitudes towards nuclear development and openness to cooperate with western powers. In this sense, mutual animosity and confrontational engagement continues to prevent the achievement of any meaningful diplomatic progress.

First Advisor

Kontogeorgopoulos, Nick

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts, International Political Economy (BA)

Department

International Political Economy

Date of Award

Spring 2012