Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Government and International Affairs

Major Professor

Mohsen Milani, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Abdelwahab Hechiche, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Scott M. Solomon, Ph.D.


Iran, Atomic, Weapon, Obama, IAEA


Iran’s nuclear program continues to present a major challenge to U.S. policy. At the core of this challenge is one fundamental question: Is Iran attempting to build a nuclear weapon? Objective analysis reveals that Iran’s dependence on oil and natural gas provides sufficient economic merit for Iran to pursue a peaceful nuclear program; without nuclear power to meet rising domestic energy needs, Iran’s economy will suffer. Though the economic justification is valid, the security of Iran and the survival of its regime are overarching; acts of foreign interference in Iran’s affairs have fueled the regime’s quest for a nuclear weapon. For this reason, U.S. administrations since the 1979 revolution have striven to derail Iran’s nuclear program through policies of containment, isolation, and denial of nuclear technology. Considering the current standoff between Iran and the U.S., we must ask another key question: How effective have U.S. policies been? The answer is simple; Iran has made significant progress in its nuclear program. Sanctions, political pressure, and threats proved no obstacle to Iran; worse still, ignoring IAEA and other’s reports that found no convincing evidence that Iran is building nuclear weapons damaged U.S. efforts significantly. Iran’s progress makes it clear that U.S. policies have failed, and its strategies must be discarded in favor of a new approach. This research implicates that a non-confrontational engagement policy, which acknowledges Iran’s needs to build a peaceful nuclear program will provide President Obama and the U.S. the highest probability of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.