Iran’s Nuclear Dilemma

For many Iranians, the nuclear program is a key part of restoring the country’s past glory.

Nationalism is a powerful force in Iran’s political consciousness. But in recent centuries, military defeats, external occupations and foreign interference have tempered its citizens’ sense of historical and cultural pride. One of the more recent examples of foreign meddling is Operation Ajax, a U.S. plot to take down Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953 after he nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and replace him with the shah. This event registered as an example of Western domination and helped motivate Iranians to reclaim their past glory. The Iranian nuclear program is a continuation of this long-standing endeavor. Iranians, regardless of their political leanings, believe becoming a nuclear power is part of their national redemption story. They argue that they are surrounded by enemies who have violated their territorial integrity time and again. Even if they accept a new political deal that restricts their nuclear activity, they likely won’t abandon their goal of becoming a nuclear power altogether. The Evolution of the Nuclear Program During the Cold War, the United States considered the shah a component of its Soviet containment strategy. Iran, which saw the Soviet Union as its main security concern outside its own borders, was strategically located, forming with Turkey […]

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Hilal Khashan
Hilal Khashan is a Professor of political science at the American University of Beirut. He is a respected author and analyst of Middle Eastern affairs. He is the author of six books, including Hizbullah: A Mission to Nowhere. (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2019.) He is currently writing a book titled Saudi Arabia: The Dilemma of Political Reform and the Illusion of Economic Development. He is also the author of more than 110 articles that appeared in journals such as Orbis, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, The Brown Journal of World Affairs, Middle East Quarterly, Third World Quarterly, Israel Affairs, Journal of Religion and Society, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, and The British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies.