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U.S. nuclear non-proliferation policy and Iran (1969-1980): an analysis of bilateral policy

Nielsen, Jenny (2010) U.S. nuclear non-proliferation policy and Iran (1969-1980): an analysis of bilateral policy University of Southampton, Social Sciences, Doctoral Thesis , 298pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)


During their efforts to reformulate and redefine U.S. nuclear non-proliferation policy throughout the 1970s, the Nixon, Ford, and Carter administrations, engaged extensively, on a bilateral basis, with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran’s (AEOI) Director, Dr. Akbar Etemad, in order to pursue an agreement establishing a cooperative relationship in the nuclear energy field. Although the United States attached high strategic importance to maintaining a strong bilateral relationship with Iran, and despite Iranian protestations of discriminatory treatment, the U.S. pursued an increasingly firm position in its negotiations with Iran, by insisting on the inclusion of progressively more restrictive elements to prevent proliferation, in the bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement between the two parties. Although the imposition of stricter conditions frustrated Iran, the US bilateral negotiating position was consistent with its evolving wider nuclear non-proliferation policy. Precisely because of the strong ties and alliance between Iran and the United States at this time, the U.S. --particularly the Carter administration -- wanted to showcase the eventual U.S.-Iranian cooperation agreement as a model for future bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements. The U.S. administrations also aimed to exploit their close relationship with the Shah by using him as an intermediary to advance U.S. proliferation concerns in the region.

U.S. foreign policy is complex and multifaceted. As identified by Rosenau and further explored by Wittkopf et al, there are external, societal, governmental, role, and individual sources, contributing to foreign policy. Adapting this approach to a specific aspect of U.S. foreign policy -- that of nuclear non-proliferation policy -- this thesis identifies and examines the various sources contributing to U.S. nuclear non-proliferation policy during the Nixon, Ford and Carter administrations. The analysis is refined further by examining the specific bilateral policy case study in the context of the general U.S. nuclear non-proliferation policy during this period. This comparative approach allows the thesis to identify the objectives of U.S. bilateral nuclear cooperation policy with Iran in a systematic manner and conclude that the bilateral objectives were consistent with general U.S. nuclear non-proliferation objectives, which evolved throughout the three presidencies.

This thesis contributes to the literature on U.S.-Iran bilateral foreign policy on nuclear issues in the 1970s and U.S. nuclear non-proliferation policy more broadly. The originality of its contribution resides particularly in its is extensive empirical research using authoritative primary sources, specifically declassified official U.S. government documents sourced from the U.S. National Security Archive, and the relevant presidential libraries. These archival sources are supplemented and supported by existing secondary sources as well as semi-structured interviews of U.S. and Iranian officials.

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Published date: June 2010
Organisations: University of Southampton, Politics & International Relations


Local EPrints ID: 340994
PURE UUID: 17941705-3c5b-465d-ae3b-dfe382a782ae

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Date deposited: 10 Jul 2012 13:31
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 05:39

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Author: Jenny Nielsen
Thesis advisor: John Simpson

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