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What Iran Really Wants

Iranian Foreign Policy in the Rouhani Era

President Hassan Rouhani and the author in Davos, Switzerland, January 2014. Eric Piermont / Getty

Foreign policy is a critical component in the lives, conduct, and governance of all nation-states. But it has become even more significant in recent years as interstate relations have grown ever more complex. The inexorable rise in the number of international players—including multilateral organizations, nonstate actors, and even individuals—has further complicated policymaking. Meanwhile, the ongoing process of globalization—however conceived and defined, whether lauded or despised—has brought its inescapable weight to bear on the foreign policies of all states, whether large or small, developed or developing.

Since its establishment by a popular revolution in 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran has grappled with these challenges. The postrevolutionary foreign policy of Iran has been based on a number of cherished ideals and objectives embedded in the country’s constitution. These include the preservation of Iran’s independence, territorial integrity, and national security and the achievement of long-term, sustainable national

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