College Papers

Iranian withdrew the support based on the anti-Western,




















































Iranian Nuclear Program,
as a controversial matter of fact has kept the busy the World Politics time to time either with support or critisism and increasing tension by different interstate and non-state actors. The discussions about nuclear project of Iran have been shaped around a very fundamental level which is to understanf for which purpose Iran reactivated its suspended
program  after the Islamic Revolution.  Nuclear Program
of Iran has started in 1950s
with the support of its erstwhile ally US as a part of Atom for Peace project. As Islamic Revolution leaded by Khomeini changed the regime from Pahlavi Dynasty to an Islamic Republic US has withdrew the support based on the
anti-Western, anti-American trenchant words and attitude of 
the regime. As
United Nations and Internationsl Atomic Energy Agency repeatedly accused of secretly trying to acquire nuclear weapons and the aim is 
not limited to energy production, they have taken an opposite stance to the program. 

Theoretical Framework: An
introduction to Ole Waever’s Securitization-Desecuritization Theory:

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            In realist perspective in
international relations, traditionally the  threat has been analyzed on an objective level
that it is  perceived by all  as the same threat not the subjective or
perceived threat differing from state to state. For this traditional approach
the  real
threat is  mostly accepted as the
military threat  making the state survive
or fail in a state centric international arena.1 However, as  traditional approach failed to explain the
increasing multiplicity of the subjective 
threats the non traditional security approach  in a more compherensive way, aimed covering
all kinds of the perceived types of the threat such as air pollution, social
and economic crisis, non military concepts and armed non-state actors. 2.  Furthermore, non-traditionalist approach does
not only include the survival of the states but the survival of different
entitities including culture and identity


Waever, the owner of the theory securitization-desecuritization, which can be
categorized as a non-traditionalist approach, brings a new perspective to the
concept of security. Waever in his paper answers the question  of ” What really makes something a security
problem?”He states that,   the states
perceive the cases posing a threat against the sovereignty, independence
depriving it of the capacity of managing the issue as security problems.  3Waever provides this
answer in order to make an introduction to a new question that will arise after
the answer, who is it to decide what is a threat against sovereignty and  independence of the state. According to him:

In naming  a certain development a security problem the
state can claim a special right, one that will in the final instance, always be
defined by the state and its elites. Trying to press the kind of unwanted
political change on a ruling elite is similar to playing a game in which one’s
opponent can change the rules at any time s/he likes. Power holders can always
try to use the instrument of securitization of an issue to gain controlover it.
By definition something is a security problem when elites declare to be so.4


According to
Copenhagen school, when something is securitized it is not always because it is
a threat but also because it is represented as a threat. At this point, the
connection Waever created among discourse and security plays a key role to
express this representation . Security is more about the interest and  utterance rather than a  real objective issue. It is a speech act that what states, elites or
who ever is the securitizing actor make of  it says Waever.5  That is why certain issues and threats are
transitivized, change shape and stance from time totime and actor to actor. To
turn a subject into a treat to security it has to be securitized by the
securitization actors, in other words according to securitization theory of
Waever, it is the act to make the community consider something as an
existential threat requiring an emergent call for measures to be solved..  Copanhagen school illustarates the
securitization theory as a tripedal relationship of  securitizing actor, target audience and
speech act. 6

     Securitization  Actor













is inspired by the article: Towards a theory of Securitization, Copanhagen and


As the
securitization actors decide on a political subject as a security matter, they
politicize the community through the speech act aiming to convince the society
that they are under the threat of that particular subject.  In case the the target audience is convinced
that one of so precious object of them is under the threat against it survival,
they may demand protective security measures and immediate action. This fear
and In persuasion process the historical memory of the community, potential perceived
threats ready to rise back, traumatic events can be referred by the securitization
actors in order to realize the goal quicker.

                   De-securitization is the
process conducted as the total opposite version of securitization. It is the
process of de-emphasizing the issue securitized before and returning it to the
normal political line. According to Waever, the securitized issue should no longer be called as
a threat, securitiziation process ought to be well menaged to prevent its
spiral movement and finally, de-securitization actors should return the securitized
issue to the normal politics.8
According to Hansen, since securitization theory  is based on the speech act but
desecuritization process has no linguistic base or a specific step by step
methodology, it is more unsystematic, and contradictory. 9
However, fluctuation in the media and in the politicians’ speeches in terms of
the use of a particulat threat are good ways to understand which cases
securitized before are to return to normal politics.

Iranian Nuclear Program:

In 1967 US has provided technical assistance to Tehran with a small 5MW research reactor and as the oil revenues increased short after 1970, Shah has invested more of the national resources into the military field1  In
1968 Iran joined Non-Proliferation Treaty(NPT) 
ayear before the American supplied reactors staeted to work in Tehran.
In 1974, Iran has signed a contract with German Krafwerk Union- established by
German centric companies Siemens and Telefunken- in order to realize the aim of
creating a nuclear power plant in Bushehr nearby the Persian Gulf. The company
was planning finalize the first reactor of the station in 1980 and the other in
1981. However after the Islamic revolution in 1979, the company  suspended the
construction process. The question arises at this point is that why it was not Shah, who has become the payer of the accusations but new regime. According to Akbar Etemad who was the former head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran
(AEOI), Shah would not want to face the opposition of the West against Iran and it was  too costly and unnecessary production for a leader claiming that the army of Iran
has the superiority comparing to all neighboring countries other than so powerful Soviet Union.2 Also
Mohammad Reza Shah was Western-friendly monarch of Iran with his domestic and
foreign policies making him accused by many Iranians even  for being an agent of the West.  After 1979, all the centrals were out of use
since the recolutionaries wew highly critical of the Shah’s military
modernization project. The West policy of Tehran was reversed especially
against US and Israel that are called as the small and big devils by the new
regime. Mostly used terms in Iranian newspapers have become the anti-western  domination terms such as  jihad, anti-imperialism, Western
intoxification, azad(freedom), mujahid 
in 1981 Iran decided to reactivate the nuclear program and at Tehran
Nuclear Research Centre (TNRC) it carried out bench scale project of UO2 (uranium dioxide) several uranium compounds, including uranium hexafluoride. During Iran Iraq War the centrals in Bushehr were higly demaded by Iraq i bomb attacks and Iran has
conducted its nuclear project
through the reactors  in Tehran. As the war came to an end, Iran and USSR have signed a nuclear cooperation
agreement for the restoration
of Bushehr facility then in 19953 With the post-revolution hostality increasing against Israel and US  made it more significant
for them to follow Iranian nuclear program  and the possible irrecoverable risks have
brought unrest and fear.  This
condition  increased sensitivity
regarding the program. During the period of the president Khatami, who was
teaching Western Political Thought before at the Tehran University, and acting
as a professor  rather than a
revolutionary clergy man , Iran voluntarly signed an agreement with France, UK
and Germany for suspension of the nuclear program and full cooperation with
IAEA in return it demanded the recognition of nuclear energy production of Iran
and technological support for Iran.11 However,
after two years of suspension Ahmadinejad came to power as an  exhilarant of the revolution. His election
campaign and propaganda were based on economic development, rise in the wages
and promise for reducing the revolution to its essential values.12 Short
after Ahmedinejad held the office, Iran’s nuclear program appeared back in the
stage with a strong rhetoric and it decided to resume its nuclear enrichment program.
As Iran decided to resume its enrichment program under the guidance of the
revolutionary president, the program became one of the hottest topics in
Western media.

Securitizaiton theory and Iranian
Nuclear Power:

As nuclear power of Iran passed in the hands of the Islamic regime,
except the period of Khatami causing a fluctuation in the speech act against
Iran with a decrease, the program has been named as an esxistential threat
against the universal peace, especially against the West, US and Israel in the
region. Although Iranian officials emphasizes that Iran has signed the major
international arms control and disarmament treaties and Israel has signed only
three of them, 1925 Geneva Protocol, the Certain Conventional Weapons
Convention, Compherensive Test Ban Treaty. 13
Furthermore although Israel was a member of the IAEA, it has not signed the
nuclear NPT and today it is known as one the most well known nuclear weapon
state14 Iranians
claimed that it was unfair to sigle out any state while the risk of nuclear
ambitions of Israel is ignored. In 2005 , the speech of Ahmedinejad in “The
World Without Zionism” conference held in Tehran, including a saying “Israel
should be wiped of the map” has strengthened Israel’s hand at a significant
level.15 The
speech act against Iran was going to turn into a black propaganda illustrating
the state with its  hostility, violation
of human rights, seek of weapon of mass destruction (WMD), sponsor of terrorism
in the region and in the world making it a threat for the universal peace. The
securitization process against Iran has been conducted by both state and
non-state actors. The most significant nongovernmental actors
have been the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and
Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) while. governmental actors have been the United States
and Israel. 16 Although
US and Israel tried he convince their domestic communities and the world
community about the threat Iran posed, the essential target to be convinced
were the United Nations Security Council and the powerful countries having a
power of sanction. However, in time after 
European countries were convinced that the nuclear program of Iran is
threat against peace, they imposed the harshest sanctions and conducted strong
speech acts shifting them from the target audience position to the
securitization actor.17

Speech Acts against Iran:

Iran has faced numerous speech acts by different securitization actors
not only with reference to nuclear program but also to different fields of
human rights, terrorism activities and hostility int its foreign policy. The
speech act by US against the Islamic Republic of Iran is not a new one but has
started in 1980s. Iranian nuclear program was accused for having a secret agenda
to produce weapons as a threat against global peace and security. In 1984  West German intelligence announced that Iran
is two years far from producing nuclear weapon and in 1985 Minority Whip
of the United States Senate Alan Cranston reported that it was seven years
away from being able to build its own nuclear weapon.18
Iran has signed agreements with different states to gain support for its
nuclear program including Argentina, Russia and China. US was highly unpleased
for these agrement and in 1996 it theoretically it has achieved to convince
China to pull out of the contract to construct uranium conversion plants.19
In 2002 in his Annual Natioanl Report George W. Bush has labeled Iran as a
rogue state which is the state violating international laws and norms through
its gross negative domestic and foreign policies.20
He has also provided a list of rogue states consisting of North Korea, Iran and
Iraq which he called as the axis of evil as a very strong speech act. In 2007
George Bush claimed that nuclear military capacity of Iran is able to lead the
world go fort he Worl War Three21
Netenyahu has also kept warning the world and pressuring US to take action fort
he nuclear bomb plans of Iran. US and Israel have achieved to open the doors
for more and more speech acts against Iran from the World but especially after
the US  invasion of Iraq many regional
powers perceived nuclear power of Iran as a balancing element against the
extreme US military power and supported the enrichment plan of Iran to produce
weapons. 22

Especially during Ahmedinejad period human rights violations was
another resource to the speech acts. The green movement,  increasing number of political prisoners,
attitude of the regime towards the opponents and newspapers wer highly
critisized by the democracies inreasing the sceptisism and even hatred for the
state. 23It
was easier to convince the target audiences when the wrong doer is a bad man at the same time violating basic
rights of the people.

            Iran has been an influential role
player in the Middle Eastern teritories with the regional actors it has
financed or supported geopolitically to create strategic points either for
survival or expensionist

With the references to these acts Iran 
was not only llustrated as an irrational arbitrary and an isolated state
from the international but also a state supporting  terrorism in the region by some other speech
acts. The possibility of the nuclear weapons are handed by terrorist
organization through the Iranian state channels was another disaster scenario
spreading the anxiety to the world. In 1980 US released a list of  State
Sponsors of Terrorism placing Iran in the beginning of the list by
referring to the relationship among Hezbollah and Iran24
 On the other hand, Iran rejects the
claim thatHezbollah is a terrorist organization, for Iran it is a movement
resisting against the occupation of Israel in the Lebanon territories as the
freedom fighters. In 2008 Bush made his speech in General assmembly where
Ahmedinejad sat among the listeners and he called the assembly to impose
sanctions on the nuclear program of Iran. Un assemby fails to prevent terrorism
and does not take action for it, to stop terrorism in the world it is
significant to cut the support of the states such as Iran and Syria to
terrorist organizations25
In addition, for numerous times 2005 speech of Ahmedinejad was referenced by
Israel as the reflection of the secret agenda and real aims of Iran. Because Iran
had a clear stance on the side of the Palestenians, it was another case Iran
was blamed for supporting  terrorist

            The securitization process of Iran
has become a successfull one when the following sanctions against the country
are considered:


The four rounds of UN sanctions included

A ban on the supply of heavy
weaponry and nuclear-related technology to Iran
A block on arms exports
An asset freeze on key
individuals and companies.

The EU also
imposed its own sanctions, among them:

Restrictions on trade in
equipment which could be used for uranium enrichment
An asset freeze on a list of
individuals and organisations that the EU believed were helping advance
the nuclear programme, and a ban on them entering the EU
A ban on any transactions
with Iranian banks and financial institutions
Ban on the import, purchase
and transport of Iranian crude oil and natural gas – the EU had previously
accounted for 20% of Iran’s oil exports. European companies were also
stopped from insuring Iranian oil shipments.26

A wide rage of international, govermental, non govermental organizations
have contributed to the securitization process against Iran. EU as the previous
target audience before has turned into a securitization actor as it was convinced
and imposed the harshest sanctions.




            The most successful way of
the de-securitization process is when it is conducted by the previous securitization
actors. However, for Iranian case there was no such an attempt by the actors as
a whole to return the risk of Iran to produce nuclear weapons to normal political
level. Iran itself with a few regional power attracted the attention to Israeli
nuclear weapons as stated before and accused US for its two-faced policy. In
his UN speech Ahmedinejad blamed US in response:

“As long as wars are
started and nations enslaved to win votes in elections, not only will the
problems of the global community remain unsolved, but they will be exacerbated…
The American empire is reaching the end of its road, and its next rulers must
limit their interference to their own borders”27

The points
Ahmedinejad emphisized were the violation of UN charter by US in terms of
sovereignty and domestic policy rights. This attemp was drawing the attention
to US instead of Iran’s nuclear program.

            Also, Iran kept rejecting the claims
about it has an aim to produce nuclear weapons in order to attack US or Israel.
Iranian officials argued that Ahmedinejad words to wipe Israel out of the map
was not exactly what he said and was a misunderstanding stemming from the
translation. However, in order to legitimize the nuclear program in a domestic
level, national newspapers were publishing texts with references to a stronger
army to protect Iran from external powers such as the West,  were perceived as threats against the West.28



As the
greater number of secutization actors conducted the process against Iran, some
regional anti-US powers or  states
remaining indifferent and trying to mediate Iran and the West like Turkey could
not really help the de-securitization process of nuclear program and  to convince theglobal actors that Iran’s
purpose in not to gain global supremacy by using the  nuclear tool.


            From now on, in oder to have a
succesful desecuritization process Iran shoul convince the target audience that
nuclear power of Iran is not an existential threat.

            However, under the leadership of
Rouhani, Iran has started to take successful de-securitization attempts within
JCPA. The speeches of Rouhani aimed to illustate Iran as arational and
rsponsible actor and achieved to decrease the number of the speech acts against
Iran. So that from now on Iran might have a new oppurtunity to illustrate its
nuclear power within a very different context comparing to Ahmedinejad thanks
to JCPA.


















The Three Faces
of Securitization: Political

Agency, Audience and Context

1 Buzan, Barry, and Ole Waever (2003). Regions and
powers: the structure of international security. Cambridge University Press,
Vol. 91.


 Buzan et al 1998, 29).

3 waever

4 waever


Towards a Theory of

Copenhagen and Beyond


8 waever

9 Hansen, Lene (2012). “Reconstructing
desecuritisation: the normative-political in the Copenhagen School and
directions for how to apply it.” Review of International Studies 38,
No. 03: 525-546.

10 ?hsan

11 Macro
and Micro Legitimation in Discourse on Iran’s Nuclear Programme: The case of
Iranian national newspaper: Kayhan

12 ihsan





17 Macro
and Micro legitimation in discourse on Irans Nuclear Programme:The Case of
Iranian National Newspaper Kayhan

18 Senator says Iran, Iraq
seek N-Bomb”. (27 June 1984). The Age,

19 Mark Hibbs, “Iran Told
IAEA It Will Build Chinese UF6 Plant at Isfahan,” Nuclear Fuel, 16
December 1996


21 bak

22 Kitap

23 ?hsan





28 Kayhan