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Policy Briefing
Iran's nuclear stand-off and its regional role

Monday, 08 April 2013

The main issue on the agenda in relations between Iran and the West is the nuclear file, but little progress has been made on addressing its content – and Western sanctions have proven to be ineffective in this regard, heard participants in this Policy Briefing.

The sanctions imposed by the West on Iran have the objective of changing Iran’s nuclear calculus, but they are yet to prove effective at this. Nor have the sanctions been successful in getting Iran to change its attitude or show more flexibility, said Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council.

Iran’s foreign policy is ideologically nationalist and is influenced by political Islam. Iran’s position in the international community results from its classic Marxist, anti-imperialist trajectory, said Walter Posch, a senior associate at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP).

Putting pressure on Iran through sanctions and threats of war does not work. There is a narrow view based on security, but European policy towards Iran should take political and social issues into account too, said Thierry Coville, a researcher at the Institut de Relations Internationales et Stratégiques (IRIS).

Perceptions of Turkey among its neighbours have changed since the Syrian conflict, said Professor Savaş Genç of the Department of International Relations at Fatih University, Istanbul.

Sanctions have fundamentally failed in their objectives and have perpetuated exactly what they are aiming to stop: the escalation of Iran’s nuclear programme, argued Mohammed Ali Shabani, a Doctoral Researcher at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

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