Iran's Strategic Culture: Implications for Nuclear Policy

By Nima Gerami


This book chapter, published in Crossing Nuclear Thresholds: Leveraging Sociocultural Insights into Nuclear Decisionmaking (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), assesses the principal drivers of Iran's strategic culture and their broader implications for the country's nuclear decisionmaking processes in light of the 2015 nuclear agreement—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—between Iran and the P5+1. Explaining the "great civilization" lens through which Iran sees itself as a peer with global superpowers, Nima Gerami discusses aspects of the Iranian nuclear narrative which "fuel its sense of entitlement to advanced nuclear fuel cycle technologies." Gerami argues that, even if the JCPOA remains intact, "the question of Iran's nuclear intent will grow increasingly important over the next decade." Affirming the salience of cultural context in assessing nuclear intent, Gerami emphasizes the primacy of Iranian cultural factors in decisionmaking. He explores these factors through the lens of the so-called Cultural Topography Analytical Framework, offering insights concerning leverage points the United States might apply in its engagements with Iran.