How does nuclear - capable Iran affect the security of the Gulf region?

  • Ahmad Bisho

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Arab Gulf - Iranian relations have been precarious and experienced tensions over at least the last five decades due to numerous issues. Iran’s concerted covert effort to develop a nuclear capability is an additional issue that fuels tensions in the region. Gulf Arab States view nuclear-capable Iran as a profound threat against the balance of power and further destabilizing the fragile regional security environment. The theocratic political system of Iran is driven by its revolutionary values and ideologies more than through the realpolitik of a state. Thus the intentions of the regime to acquire nuclear capabilities can said to be far more hegemonic and force demonstration rather than a deterring one. The patterns of foreign policy of Iran are ultimately driven by domestic factors; therefore, it can be best attributed to domestic culture and political system. Iran’s nuclear program is best explained as being a symptom of a revisionist state’s actions not as a reaction to external threats. This leads the researcher to investigate the notion of a rogue state with not, to be investigated, a benign nuclear program. Most scholars have debated the threats of the Iranian nuclear program but with less focus on the devastating effects of the nuclear capabilities, nuclear proliferation, Iranian coercive diplomacy in the region and the very potential Iranian proxy wars rather than the full scale military operations through means of nuclear terrorism vis-à-vis non-state actors and non-state violence in the second – tier nuclearized states. This paper builds on the cognitive shift in an era of rapid complexity in regional interconnections and transnational flows of people, interests, radical movements, ideology, theology and above all nuclear proliferation. The researcher will follow the analytical approach while observing the norms and motives of the Iranian policies so as to evaluate the Iranian nuclear threat on the regional Arabian Gulf States by testing theoretical and historical and models, comparing similarities to the present status-quo so as to be able to draw conclusions based on previous cases, conclusions and findings through logical interpretation of the understanding of the Iranian foreign policy. Two primary cases will be applied as to compare with, the Pakistani- Indian model and the North Korean model. To answer the research explanatory question of "How does nuclear-capable Iran affect the Security of the Gulf region?" the researcher will test the hypothesis "The development of a nuclear weapon-capable Iran significantly increases insecurity in the Arabian Gulf Region". The researcher follows the qualitative methodology since it provides the grounding for a complete and detailed description of the research problem. As events are always evolving, a close comparison between past findings with the most recent studies' of the main and secondary sources would be relevant.
Date of Award2015
Original languageAmerican English
SupervisorMuhamad Olimat (Supervisor)


  • Arab Gulf States
  • Iran
  • nuclear capability
  • nuclear proliferation
  • nuclear weapons
  • deterrence
  • Rational Actor Model
  • bargaining model
  • nuclear terrorism
  • non-state actors
  • non-state violence
  • second – tier nuclearized statesMutually Assured Destruction (MAD)

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