Nuclear Weapons and Iranian Strategic Culture

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Strategic culture is an amalgam of a country's set of shared beliefs, assumptions, and narratives that shape its strategic decision-making process. This article evaluates Iran's evident pursuit of nuclear weapons in light of four key elements of its strategic culture as an attempt to ascertain Iran's goals for developing these weapons. These four elements include: (1) an all-encompassing conviction in Shia Islam as the bedrock of the regime's political legitimacy and the country's national identity; (2) a hypernationalistic belief in Iran's rightful place as the leader of the Islamic civilization and as a regional hegemon; (3) a pervasive sense of external and internal vulnerability; and (4) an ingrained perception that the U.S. desires to dominate and eventually destroy the Islamic civilization. The evaluation of these elements strongly augurs that a nuclear-armed Iran is not likely to employ these weapons offensively due to its fear of retaliation and the constraining interests within its regime's political structure. Rather, its drive toward a nuclear-weapons capability is to provide Iran with a defensive deterrent that will advance its desires for regional hegemony and mitigate its pervasive sense of insecurity. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR] Copyright of Comparative Strategy is the property of Routledge and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)

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Knepper, Jennifer. "Nuclear Weapons and Iranian strategic culture." Comparative Strategy 27, no. 5 (2008): 451-468.

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