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Iran talks failure would heighten regional instability

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Subject

Scenarios for Iran's regional policy if nuclear talks fail.

Significance

The Islamic Republic has traditionally pursued regime survival, international legitimacy and regional influence through ties with proxies across the Middle East. The election of moderate President Hassan Rouhani in June 2013 altered Iran's foreign policy priorities towards restoring Iran's international standing after the damaging Ahmadi-Nejad years. Alongside his pledge to seek an end to the international dispute over Iran's nuclear programme, Rouhani pursued rapprochement with Gulf neighbours to reduce tensions and allay Gulf fears over Iran's regional ambitions. Current talks are unlikely to be extended beyond their March 31 deadline, and, if they fail, would significantly influence Iran's foreign policy and regional stability.

Impacts

  • Failure to conclude a nuclear deal would result in hardliners winning the 2016 parliamentary elections, leaving Rouhani with limited power.
  • If talks fail, Iran is also likely to resume producing 20% enriched uranium.
  • Stronger ties with China and Russia would help Iran counter Western sanctions and diplomatic isolation.
  • Iranian military escalation could draw the West into a new, open-ended Middle Eastern conflict.
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