Briefing Paper

Briefing Paper 107 (2012)   ISBN 978-951-769-346-2

Turkey and the Iranian nuclear programme:
Key to progress in regional disarmament?

Published 31.5.2012

Hanna Ojanen & Barbara Zanchetta
Finnish Institute of International Affairs

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The increasing tension around the Iranian nuclear programme and the uncompromising positions of the protagonists have made the goal of creating a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East seem utopic.

Yet, the current strategy of maintaining a low profile in the discussions on the zone, while keeping the focus exclusively on Iran, is not likely to lead to progress.

Instead, combining the Iranian question with the zone and enlarging the content and scope of the negotiations even further by including Iran’s neighbours could be a better strategy.

Turkey could play a key role because of its unique relations with Iran, and because of its strong quest for a more prominent international position — if it can only strike the right balance between the role of lead actor and team player. 

Turkish-Iranian relations could notably inspire the consideration of accompanying pragmatic agreements on regional cooperation in other fields as a way forward for the upcoming Middle East disarmament negotiations in Finland.