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The Impact of Economic Sanctions on Nuclear Non-Proliferation: The Case of Iran (2005-15)


Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal has defied the conventional wisdom over the futility of imposing economic sanctions to curtail its nuclear programme. However, the existing literature remains theoretically ill-equipped to deal with the complexities of the Iranian case. By developing a theoretical framework that elaborates on the causal pathways through which economic sanctions affect both the supply (constraints on the nuclear programme) and demand (domestic politics) sides of nuclear proliferation, the case of Iran is examined from the faltering of international nuclear negotiations in 2005 until the signing of the nuclear deal in 2015. In achieving this outcome, the demand-side pathway played a more decisive role than the supply-side pathway as it contributed to the formation of a broad-based coalition that was able to side-line the hardline neo-Principalists and pursue a path of negotiation and nuclear rollback.
Keywords: economic sanctions; nuclear proliferation; The Islamic Republic of Iran; JCPOA; process tracing