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The Iranian Issue: The emergence of a main potential threat for the international security

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Historical background: From a 'status quo power' to a 'revisionist one'.
    1. Iran's historical background before the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
    2. The new Islamic Republic of Iran: The emergence of a 'revisionist power'.
  3. The Iranian threat to peace and stability in the Middle-East.
    1. A regional confrontation between pro-US 'status quo' regimes and a 'revisionist' Iran.
    2. Tense relations with Israel and links with Hezbollah.
    3. Iran's involvement in Iraq: A source of tension for the rest of the Middle-East and the US-led coalition.
  4. Iranian nuclear policy: A threat to the non-proliferation era and for international security.
    1. The nuclear non-proliferation issue.
    2. UN condemnations of Iran.
  5. Conclusion.
  6. References.

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. [...]


[...] 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. [...]

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