Policy Decision Process of the Islamic Republic of Iran: Through a Glass Darkly   [open pdf - 293KB]

"The Islamic Republic of Iran remains defiant to the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1696 which demands that "Iran suspend all nuclear enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development." Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly said that Iran's nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes and that, as a sovereign country, Iran has the right to pursue nuclear energy. President Ahmadinejad stated Iran would not stop its nuclear program despite the threat of increasing isolation and international sanctions. Iran has been given numerous opportunities and deadlines to prove to the international community that their nuclear production actions are legitimate according to international laws, treaties and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Yet, Iran has barred all inspection efforts by the IAEA. This defiance of international norms in connection with the possible acquisition of nuclear weapons represents a threat to the interests of the US and its allies and friends in the region. Many have offered numerous ways to possibly to rectify this problem which includes regime change through supporting Iranian opposition groups and conducting limited air strikes on Iran's nuclear production facilities. However, there is no guarantee that these actions will bring about the immediate and long standing result that is required.Perhaps the wisest thing for strategists and planners to do before embarking upon any course of action towards Iran is to analyze Iran's complex political system in order to understand the functionality of the government's policy decision-making process. Iran's political system includes the president, cabinet members, Supreme Council of National Security, 290-member Parliament, head of judiciary and most importantly the Supreme Leader, Council of Experts, Guardian Council, Expediency Council, Internal Security Forces, Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, and Regular Armed Forces. Additionally, these system components are impacted by the informal political system which includes: hardliners, conservatives, and reformers. Each of these institutions and groups exercise significant influence in the development, approval, and the execution of government policy. By understanding Iran's policy decision process and the components of the complex political system strategists and planners could identify better ways to influence the Iranian regime to change its policy toward nuclear activities and to abide by the United Nations Security Resolutions. However, the challenge to understand the Iranian government's decision-making process is formidable and will demand of policy makers that they get beyond strategic ethnocentrism."

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