Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Final Report Summary - NUCBURPOLITICS (Understanding Iran‘s Resumption of its Nuclear Program: The Role of Govermental Politics)

The primary aim of this Career Integration Grant was the successful integration of the researcher to the European Research Area. In doing so it aimed to have the researcher in a permanent position at the host university and help his academic career goals. During the duration of the Grant, the project has accomplished the most important goal of the program; the fellow has received a permanent position at the host institution. The successful signing of the grant has allowed for a stable and steady employment contract with the University, thereby accomplishing the greatest goal of the Career Integration Grant, which is the successful and permanent integration of the fellow into the European Research Area. A second important objective of the grant was to help the long term career development of the fellow. This has also been accomplished, as the fellow has been promoted to associate professorship status. Both of these developments have contributed immensely toward the fellow’s transition from an early career scholar to an integrated independent researcher. As a result of the successful activities during the grant, the researcher has been promoted to serve as the chair of the department of International Relations. A further development has been the promotion to serve as the university senator of the host institution.
The research aim of the grant was the enabling of the researcher to conduct research in the proposed topic, which is Iran’s foreign policy behavior with respect to its nuclear program. From the beginning the primary interest of this project is to understand the reasons for Iran’s foreign policy concerning its nuclear program. It is not clear why there is variation in the amount of cooperation Iran has offered to the international community. The existing literature has identified several causes such as the geostrategic environment, identity, and role of international institutions. At the beginning of the project two related questions have been proposed to find an answer. First, have international sanctions had any effect on state behavior? Has the increasing sanctions regimes spearheaded by the US and European countries, have had any affect to change Iran’s behavior? Second, how much has the domestic politics of Iran influenced its foreign policy?
During the course of this research period Iran has signed a historic deal with the international community in Vienna on July 14, 2005. Called as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran has signed this important deal with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, Germany and the European Union. This historic deal would be studied for the years to come. What makes this project unique is that it was taking place during the last three years of the resolution of the crisis. This has set unique challenges and opportunities for the project.
During the earlier reporting periods the researcher suggested that given contemporary developments one might be better off to conclude that governmental politics may matter less than expectations. One might better focus on the Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei himself as he seemed to manage, behind the scenes, the nuclear deal with President Obama. Recent evidence that surfaced in 2015 confirms this later hypothesis.
On the question of sanctions, the researcher found that sanctions have been instrumental in the change of Iran’s foreign policy. As one might recall, the first sanctions were targeted towards Iran’s nuclear industry. Later more targeted sanctions on banking and oil sectors against these groups came about. By 2013, these sanctions had harmed the Iranian economy, which pushed Iranian political actors towards negotiations. Initial analysis shows that economic sanctions have been influential for a solution. Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Barack Obama are correct to argue that they believed that the sanctions have been successful as Iran’s attitude towards the negotiations has changed positively.
On the question of the impact of domestic politics for Iranian foreign policy, the researcher found mixed results. There was not a uni-directional relation between domestic politics in Iran and its foreign policy toward the international community concerning its nuclear program. Instead there was a two-way feedback mechanism. In other words, international developments, such as sanctions, were changing political preferences inside Iran. These changing domestic politics also were being reflected in Iran’s foreign policy. Furthermore, rather than a governmental politics approach, the researcher has discovered in that it was the Supreme Leader Khamenei’s position and role in foreign policy that ultimately tilted toward favoring negotiations with the West. The role of the Supreme Leader Khamenei’s became most evident during his behind the scenes role in the 2015 negotiations.
The nuclear deal has socio-economic and political implications both for Iran and the international community. First, economically, after Iran’s compliance with the deal, foreign assets of Tehran that total nearly 100 billion dollars will be unfrozen. Some argue that available funds will help weaken the regime by enlarging the middle classes. Others argue that these funds are ultimately under the control of the regime that will channel these funds to its desired segments. Politically, in the short to medium term the moderates and reformists in Iran will politically benefit as a result of the inflow of investment. Ordinary citizens in Iran will feel the material benefits of the regime and will most likely support the reformist camp in the coming elections in late February. While the hardliners will also see the material benefits in society, they will come to think that society is going to a direction other than originally envisioned in the Islamic revolution. In the long term, ceteris paribus, as the medium classes begin to benefit materially they will also demand changes in political life. Some argue that this will, thereby, create the eventual liberalization of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In terms of socio-economic and political implications for the international community, we will observe that after the opening up the Iranian market, international investment will flow into Iran. This will first take place in the form of foreign investment to Iran’s natural gas and oil fields. Second, as a result of the increased purchasing power of Iran, imports will increase. These will range from automobiles and airline jets to telecommunications and consumer goods. The increased wealth of a country, whose population is 77 million, will increase international trade significantly. Given its geographic proximity, the EU and member states will benefit more from the deal, than, say the US. During the grant period, the researcher had made several contacts within the business community who see this as a major opportunity. For example the French automaker Peugeot has agreed to open a car factory in Iran, Airbus will sell more than 100 jets, Italian businesses have struck deals worth 17 billion Euros in Iran, and Germany is holding an economic summit for business in Iran. The increased wealth of Iran will also create changes in the geopolitics of the Middle East. Iran, with its new wealth, will most likely use some of its new power to support its regional allies in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Sunni states in the region will likely try to balance the power of a rising Iran.

During the course of the research, the researcher has engaged in several dissemination and outreach activities. The researcher has been invited to several academic conferences in Europe, North America and Turkey. An important conference was the Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, where I presented papers in 2013, 2014 and 2015. During the research period the researcher has published three peer reviewed journal articles. The researcher is writing a book manuscript that results from this research grant, and is already in communication with respected publishing houses such as Palgrave and Lexington books. The researcher has established important research contacts and networks with scholars in Stanford University, MIT, and King’s College. During the grant period, the researcher presented at several conferences and universities in New Orleans, San Francisco, Toronto, Amsterdam, Berlin, Florence, and Catania. I have been invited to several universities and conferences on international security in Turkey. During the course of research, transfer of knowledge and impact is not limited to teaching and research. I was invited by the foreign ministry and have given presentations in talks in front of international diplomats. As part of dissemination, the researcher was interviewed by several media outlets. In terms of transfer of knowledge, the researcher has also developed and offered undergraduate and graduate courses titled International Relations Theory and International Security. The researcher also presented his findings in several seminars in the host institution.

Información relacionada

Reported by

Síganos en: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Gestionado por la Oficina de Publicaciones de la UE Arriba