Honors College Thesis


Iran’s Nuclear Aspirations: A Threat to Regional Stability Public Deposited

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  • This thesis examines the multi-faceted threat Iran poses to the stability of the Middle Eastern region, to U.S. geopolitical interests and to the furthering of democratic principles from a realist perspective. Iran’s failure to negotiate a nuclear accord in good faith coupled with its continued militant role in regional affairs are indicators of future escalating tensions. I weigh the viewpoints of both proponents and skeptics regarding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and examine controversies surrounding this accord. My approach is informed by an interview with Lily Ranjbar, an Iranian nuclear scientist currently residing in the United States, and the insights of political scientists Paasha Mahdavi and Michael Ross on the relationship between oil wealth and the adverse effects this has on civil liberties and democracy. I further support my hypothesis through the application of theories developed by economists Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson who have studied the dynamics of extractive institutions in certain regions, including the Middle East. As this thesis demonstrates, the divisiveness promoted by Iran in order to establish itself as a regional power offers an illustration of the Thucydides theory. As elaborated by Graham Allison, this theory predicts armed conflict when rising states challenge existing superpowers.
  • Key Words: multi-faceted threat, realist perspective, escalation of tensions, oil wealth, Thucydides theory, extractive institutions, geopolitical dilemma
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