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The United States and the Iranian Nuclear Programme

A Critical History

Steven Hurst

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A critical overview of American efforts to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons, from the 1950s to the present

Steven Hurst traces the development of the Iranian nuclear weapon crisis across its historical context: from the conception of Iran's nuclear programme under the Shah to the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2015. Emphasising the centrality of domestic politics in decision-making on both sides, Hurst adopts a broader perspective on the Iranian nuclear programme and explains the continued failure of the USA to halt it. He reveals how President Obama’s alterations to the American strategy, accompanied by shifts in Iranian domestic politics, finally brought about a resolution.

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1. The 1970s: The nuclear relationship under the Shah
2. The 1980s: Developing hostility and the origins of the Islamic Republic's nuclear programme
3. The 1990s: Clinton and the failure of containment and engagement
4. 2001-8: George W. Bush and the failure of confrontation
5. 2008-15: Obama and the road to the JCPOA

About the Author

Steven Hurst is Reader in Politics at Manchester Metropolitan University. He is the author of The United States and the Iranian Nuclear Programme: A Critical History (Edinburgh University Press, 2018) and The United States and Iraq Since 1979: Hegemony, Oil and War (Edinburgh University Press, 2009) as well as three other books on US foreign policy.


Hurst offers a historical analysis of US policy towards Iran’s nuclear programme since the Eisenhower administration. The book makes an original, sophisticated and distinctive contribution to this vital and topical subject.

- John Dumbrell, Durham University

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