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The United States and the Iranian Nuclear ProgrammeA Critical History$
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Steven Hurst

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780748682638

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748682638.001.0001

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2009–15: Obama and the Road to the JCPOA

2009–15: Obama and the Road to the JCPOA

(p.190) 5 2009–15: Obama and the Road to the JCPOA
The United States and the Iranian Nuclear Programme

Steven Hurst

Edinburgh University Press

Obama introduced significant changes to US policy that brought ambitions more effectively into line with the means available to achieve them. He secured more effective multilateral cooperation from key states, which in turn enabled him to impose more effective coercion. Of equal importance, however, was his abandonment of the demand that Iran give up the fuel cycle. That decision was driven by his recognition that continued enrichment was non-negotiable as far as Tehran was concerned and his fear that the alternative to acknowledging that would be military conflict. There would have been no JCPOA, however, without parallel changes inside Iran. After eight years of dominance by Iranian hard liners, the 2013 election saw Hassan Rouhani returned to office. Obama's concession on enrichment created the political space for him to pursue a negotiated solution while Iran's economic problems and growing legitimacy crisis persuaded the Supreme Leader to support him in doing so. A nuclear agreement was finally reached as a result of smarter diplomacy on the part of the USA, the exhaustion of coercive options short of war, and domestic political changes on both sides, but especially in Iran.

Keywords:   Obama, Rouhani, JCPOA, Sanctions, Engagement, Nuclear energy, Nuclear weapons

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