Date of Graduation

Fall 2015


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

John P. Rose


This essay will examine Iran's nuclear program and foreign and defense policy and how these threats shape U.S. defense and foreign policy in the region. Iran's advanced nuclear program is only one aspect of its goal to reaching regional hegemony in the Middle East. Iran looks to establish itself as a dominant power in the region by employing non-military tools such as promoting Shiism and Iranian ideology and supporting Arab and non-Arab political leaders and groups friendly toward Iran. Meanwhile, the United States and other world powers are concerned about Iran's enrichment program being diverted to develop nuclear weapons, which may further destabilize the region. In addition to maintaining an advanced nuclear program, Iran has also taken courses of action to expand its influence and preserve its interests in the Middle East by providing direct material support to terrorist groups and developing military capabilities that threaten the security of the U.S. and its allies in the region. Because of Iran's destabilizing role in the region, such as its support of terrorist proxy groups in Iraq and Syria, and Iran's development of missile and naval capabilities directed at countering the defenses of Israel and U.S.-allied Gulf states, the U.S. may have to modify its Middle East policy that reflects Iran's larger and potentially more destructive role in the region while also gradually expecting greater burden-sharing from its regional partners.


Middle East, Iran, nuclear program, competition, offshore balancing, regional hegemony

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Aaron Michael Craig Richards

Open Access