In a major breakthrough, Iran and the P+1 agreed, on 15 July 2015, on a comprehensive nuclear deal, which is designed to halt advancements in Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for lifting economic sanctions and bringing Iran back into the global political and economic mainstream.
P+1 represents six of the world’s most powerful nations – Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States (permanent members of the UN Security Council) and Germany.
The original name of the nuclear deal is ‘Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)’. The official document detailing the JCPOA uses E3/EU+3 (China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States) to describe the negotiating parties that sat at the table with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In a multi-part explainer series, I will focus on this landmark nuclear deal. In the first part of this Explainer on Iran, I will focus on the Iranian political system.
Brief Backgrounder on Iranian Political System
Iran, the world’s largest Shia Muslim nation, is a powerful force in the Middle East. Iran has the world’s fourth largest reserves of oil and second largest reserves of gas, which make it a formidable power in the global energy market. In a world that is ever thirsty for energy,
is often seen as a force with a huge bargaining power. Iran
|Iran and its Neighbourhood|
|Ayatollah Ali Khamenei|
Even for an Islamic country,
With a Clerical Administration in power, the system is peopled in large numbers by ultra-orthodox religious hardliners. In a closely-knit system such as the Iranian Clerical polity, it is important to populate it with the ‘right’ kind of people – people who are loyal to the Supreme Leader and the ‘political and religious beliefs’ that define the State.
To this end, the polity is peopled in large numbers by ultra-orthodox religious hardliners. Religion plays a dominant role in the way the country is governed; in fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that religion colours everything about the behavior of the
It is also true that the ultra-conservative Clerical regime is torn by various factions, which are pulling in different directions. The heroes of the Islamic Revolution still control all the key institutions of the State machinery. The hardliners control the judiciary, while the Council of Guardians is the watchdog of the country’s constitution. The hardliners also rule the roost when it comes to controlling other powerful institutions like the Revolutionary Guards and the Ansar-e-Hezbollah (a sort of Islamic vigilante).
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When it comes to domestic affairs, the Clerical administration, dominated by hardliners, uses violence, intimidation, arbitrary detention, and extreme religious laws to silence the voice of its political opponents. In simple words, a once-liberal
Since 1979, the Iranian Clerical regime has exhorted the ordinary Iranians against the
Tomorrow: A Brief History of Sanctions in The Iran Explainer: History of Sanctions.