The U.S.' and Israel's Securitization of Iran's Nuclear Energy

Seminar Paper, 2009

20 Pages, Grade: A+



The U.S.’ and Israel’s Securitization of Iran’s Nuclear Energy

The Origin of Iran’s Nuclear Energy and its Motivations

Iran’s Nuclear Energy: An existential threat to the U.S.’ and Israel’s security?
Securitizing Actors or Agents
Referent Objects
Specific Audiences
Speech Acts

Concluding Remarks


The U.S.’ and Israel’s Securitization of Iran’s Nuclear Energy

By Nassef M. Adiong

Caveat: The title above is quite absurd to the fact that in the traditional sense of defining security, any country aspiring for weapons of mass destruction or WMD, which obviously nuclear used for developing weapons, is part and parcel of that nexus and is apparently a security issue; in other words it doesn’t need the securitization process. It absolutely manifests the core concepts of traditional security which is akin to military, war, or what we should say high politics of hard power prior to the Cold War era.

However, my conception of the above statement is merely a Western thought, though majority in the academia that specializes in international security accept that premise. One would ask if we can actually securitize a security issue. The answer is definitely no, because in the first place, it has been securitized and an extraordinary response was made to normalize the matter.

The nuclear energy issue of Iran is a different case because it was foreseen as an unprecedented security matter by Israel and the United States in which Iran hasn’t developed a culpable force of nuclear enrichment particularly uranium that would be used for military defence or political weapons as how the West reiterated this contention. The thin difference in securitizing Iran’s nuclear energy ambition is looking at a causational link that made Iran decided to produce its own nuclear energy enrichment, which scholars have been debating on the intent and purpose of Iran.

The presented assumptions were political and an economic one. Political in a sense that the proponent contends that the West and its allies perceived Iran’s nuclear development as factor that will escalate regional instability and further will posed an unprecedented existential threat to them, while economical because, in an Iranian perspective, it will only be utilize for energy and electricity consumption to provide an increasing demand for their population or business matters and trade as they put it.

Now, these colluding perspectives and conflicting interests will only aggravate tensions and animosity among the concerned parties which may result to hostilities and probable unwanted war(s) will break out. The delimitations that I posit is neither will focus on debates or arguments whether this matter is a traditional or non-traditional security, or in other words, a military issue or energy security, nor dealings such as hypothetical inquiries regarding the “ifs or what ifs” of the intent, motivation and purpose of Iran, i.e., weapon or energy usage.

Thus it will concentrate on Iran’s nuclear energy under the context of the redefined security which was presented in the Copenhagen school of thought or the so-called ‘securitization framework,’ deviating from the traditional to non-traditional security, the approach on securitizing Iran’s ambition of nuclear energy enrichment will be in accordance of trying to understand the Iranian perspective because most of the scholarly articles have unfairly subjugated Iran as a threat which are deemed subjective and bias.

Furthermore, scarcity or lack of Iranian’s published works written in English have affected the framing of every region in the world particularly the allies and some non-allies of the United States. Considering their perceptions and understandings were also influenced by published Western academic works and especially when it comes from the sensationalized news from the international correspondents or programs of CNN, BBC, Fox et al. Media is really a powerful weapon in influencing the behavior of states and/or individuals.

To deeply understand the identity of Iran’s aspiration for nuclear energy, the proponent will diagnostically presents two asserted propositions: (1) the historical background of how Iran acquired nuclear capability vis-à-vis with its motivations, and (2) the Copenhagen securitization framework of Iran’s nuclear energy to explain how Israel and the United States perceived it as an existential threat.

The Origin of Iran’s Nuclear Energy and its Motivations

Iran’s adversaries often told that she doesn’t need to build nuclear energy because of her large reserves of gas and oil, but in the course of its existence from pre-Islamic revolution to recent, empirical studies showed that Iran needs an inconceivable amount of energy resources to supply its increasing population and demand for electricity where she cannot rely exclusively alone on an aging oil and gas industry. To give you an example, according to Afrasiabi (p. 19, 2006) Iran has not been able to reach the production level of 5.5 million barrels per day because of American sanctions since the Islamic Republic was established. There are actually 57 out of 60 major oil fields that need major repairs and upgrading, which would require $40 billion over 15 years.

In other words, the current production level of Iran is 3.5 million barrels a day, whereby if this trend continues it will be catastrophic to Iran’s economy because it relies on oil for 80 percent of its foreign currency and 45 percent of its annual budget. Consequently, Iran has the fundamental right for securing adequate energy resources just like any other countries who aspire for development and technological advancement.

In addition, from the political point of view, Iran wanted to establish its place in the international community and assert its hegemonic position in the West Asian region or more so to the Islamic world. This view might irritate the Arab world particularly the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia though some country members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) support this postulated prism.

The reason being here is to probably enforce a well-balanced leadership in the Islamic world, e.q., establishing the three Islamic holy places into an OIC control sites and publishing academic works of universal or cosmopolitan interpretation of pristine Islam worldwide, which is not based from any cultural preferences or any schools of thought (so that the Western connotation of extremism will fade away from their schemata).

And in to some extent, aspiring for a material and real ummah community by reestablishing the Caliphate system though this thinking might sound idiotic or absurd due to the ethnical and political divide in the Muslim world – Sunni v. Shia, Arab nationalism sans Khadafi’s Libya v. Persian pride and Asian’s distinct views on Islam, and among others.

Another motivation is that Iran is also seeking for diversifying its sources of energy which is similar to the U.S. and Russia resorting to renewable nuclear energy. Broad’s article (2008) revealed that since 1985 Iran has copied a Pakistani design known as the P-1, which uses centrifuges that can be use for several applications not only for uranium enrichment but for other energy sources. In general these centrifuges can spin fast to separate all kinds of objects impurities that are incompatible i.e., mass and density.

Iran’s research interest to nuclear development began in the Shah’s administration back in 1960s when a C.I.A. sponsored coup d’etat overthrow the government of the nationalist Dr. Mossadeq’s regime and established a monarchical system under the Pahlavi dynasty of Shah Reza Muhammad Pahlavi. Several bilateral agreements were fostered by Iran and the United States.

Detailed information of Iran’s nuclear history can be found in the Payvand’s news article of Sahimi (2003), according to his research the Tehran Nuclear Research Center of the Tehran University was the first significant nuclear facility founded in 1967, which was administered by a special agency dedicated to nuclear research - the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI). The facility contained a 5-megawatt reactor that can produce a ceiling point of 600 grams of plutonium annually which was actually supplied by the government of the United States of America.

On 1 July 1968, Iran signed the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that was ratified by the Majles, their parliament or congress, and it went into effect on 5 March 1970. In the Article IV of the treaty stipulated that Iran has the inalienable right to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and acquire equipment, materials, and scientific and technological information.


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The U.S.' and Israel's Securitization of Iran's Nuclear Energy
Technological University of the Philippines  (International Studies)
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the United States, Iran, Copenhagen securitization framework, speech act, nuclear energy
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Nassef M. Adiong (Author), 2009, The U.S.' and Israel's Securitization of Iran's Nuclear Energy, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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