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Determinants of Iran's nuclear ambitions: the role of the ethnic factor

Saleem, Zmkan Ali (2014) Determinants of Iran's nuclear ambitions: the role of the ethnic factor. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

In recent years, Iran’s growing obsession with achieving an independent technological capability for enriching uranium has led many regional and international states to conclude that Tehran is actually pursuing a nuclear weapons programme. This has ensured that Iran’s nuclear programme has remained at the top of the international agenda for well over a decade now. Against this backdrop, and through developing and applying an analytical framework based on the concepts of the internal security dilemma and the politics of nuclear symbolism this thesis examines the extent to which internal/transnational ethno-religious challenges have contributed to the shaping of Iran’s nuclear motives. The existing literature analysing Iran’s assertive pursuit and acquisition of a breakout nuclear capability has primarily emphasised the external challenges faced by Tehran as the main driving forces behind Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Informed by the insights of structural realism, which takes the state’s internal coherence for granted, the literature has largely overlooked the role of ethnic diversity and divisions in determining Iran’s nuclear goals. Iran, however, is a multi-ethnic state and challenges of ethnicity and ethnic diversity are central to the shaping of Tehran’s threat perception and national security strategy. The thesis argues that Iran’s non-Shiite and non-Persian major ethnic groups, empowered by their co-ethnics and Tehran’s rivals in the Middle East, have been a potent challenge to Iran’s domestic security and the Islamic Republic’s authority in the country’s ethnic regions. Based on the balance of probabilities, the thesis argues that these challenges have influenced Iran’s nuclear motivations. Drawing on original sources, the thesis demonstrates that members of the ruling elite in Tehran have pursued the politics of nuclear symbolism and have used the country’s nuclear achievements (1) to consolidate national unity; (2) to enhance the Islamic Republic’s domestic reputation for strength; and, thus, (3) to protect the security of a unified Iranian nation-state in a region where nation-states are constantly threatened by ethno-sectarian conflict, war, and rivalry.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Politics & International Studies (POLIS) (Leeds)
Depositing User: Zmkan A S Saleem
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2015 08:42
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2015 10:51
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/8776

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