The Iranian regime appears to be one of the main present sources of threat for the international order and security. The nuclear programme that has been undertaken by its president Ahmadinezhad is raising strong tensions between this country and the main part of the rest of the world, even though its purposes are officially civil. However, the nuclear issue can't be isolated from the role Iran plays in the Middle-East which can be said to be subversive for the stability of the region from many aspects.
The Iranian issue is thus very interesting to analyze for International Relations' analysts and students as it is multidimensional, complex, and connected with different kinds of security threats (Sunni/Shi'I rivalry, energetic security, Islamic terrorism, nuclear proliferation, etc.). It makes possible the implementation of IR theories to empirical events, to a concrete reality. This security issue combines traditional security aspects —nuclear non-proliferation, state as a referent object of international security, balance of power, challenge of collective security— and contemporary ones —global terrorism. The aim of this paper is to analyse and explain why Iran appears to be a real and major potential threat for the international order and security. Such a purpose implies first to focus on Iran's history and political regime since its present international behaviour can't be separated from its historical legacy and from the ideology of the regime, even though Realists contest the importance of such matters on states' foreign policy. Then, a presentation of Iran's role, actions, rivals and interests within the Middle East will have to be made, showing that the nuclear programme is only one element of the multidimensional aspects of the Iranian issue. Finally, the danger for the international security of Iran's nuclear ambitions will have to be discussed.
[...] Second part- The Iranian threat for peace and stability in the Middle-East Despite the fears of the political leaders of the “Muslim World”, the Islamic Revolution didn't provoke a “snowball effect on the Islamic World” (Ciment p. 773). However, Iran presently contributes to a reinforced cleavage between Shi'i and Sunni states, and takes advantage of the US-led coalition's difficulties in Iraq to extend its influence in the Middle- East. Israel also appears to be threatened by Iranian radicalism. A Sunni versus Shi'i Rivalry combined with a regional confrontation between pro-US “status Regimes and a “revisionist” Iran Iran's regional policy and its nuclear ambitions follow the purpose of becoming dominant power in the Persian Gulf and reduce US influence there and in Southwest Asia” (Ganji preliminary remarks). [...]
[...] Some Iranian officials indeed consider this policy of confrontation to be a main source of threat for the regime, as Larijani. This deputy said “protecting the state is more important everything else” (Ganji p. which means that the main priority is not to pursue the nuclear programme but to avoid an armed conflict. This way of thinking could be articulated with one of Morgenthau's principles which is that every states' objectives are secondary compared with survival. However, Ahmadinezhad proved to be inflexible until today. [...]
[...] (2005). Annan: 'Dismay' over Iranian comments on Israel. CNN. Retrieved October from http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/10/27/ahmadinejad.reaction/ Ciment, J., & Hill, K., (Ed.). (1999). Encyclopaedia of conflicts since WW2 (Volume 2). London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. Ganji, B. (2006). A Shi'I Enclave, Iranian Policy towards Iraq. Middle-East Series. Conflict Studies Research Centre, [...]
[...] This is written in an Iranian secret services' report: Altogether, in all the regions mentioned from Syria to Iraq, and Lebanon to Palestine, the desire of Arab leaders to remain in power in return for cooperating with America brings with it active and potential threats which directly threaten Iran's interests and national security, while at the same time progressively and quietly limiting the areas that are within our reach and weakening our regional tools and assets. (as cited in Ganji p. [...]
[...] On the contrary, the Realist thinker Henry Kissinger saw in the Iranian nuclear crisis an important challenge for the international order and considered that failure of diplomacy would leave us with a choice between the use of force or a world where restraint has been eroded by the inability or unwillingness of countries that have the most to lose to restrain defiant fanatics” (Kissinger, 2006). It is thus also a challenge for Idealist thinking according to which collective security, international agreements and international law can be efficient. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee