When Iran decided to sign on to an agreement to curb its nuclear program, it joined an exclusive group of nations. Since 1945, 27 states have started and stopped nuclear weapons activity. And some of the members of that group might surprise you: South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, Taiwan, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, Algeria, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Iraq – just to name a few.
On this week’s DecodeDC podcast, guest host Todd Zwillich talks with Rupal Mehta, an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska, about why countries that start down the path of developing nuclear weapons decide to stop.
A key condition for nuclear reversal, Mehta says, is regime change. In the case of Iran, this happened in 2013 when President Hassan Rouhani was elected to replace hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“President Rouhani ran on a campaign of being more of a centrist, being more willing to engage with the U.S. and bringing the nuclear issue to forefront,” Mehta says.
At the time, the Arab spring was still reverberating throughout the region, and Mehta says this prompted the Iranian public to speak out “… to seek out those changes and to be very excited about a potential engagement with the U.S. and entrance into the global financial system and entrance into the international community more broadly.”
Learn more about the significance of regime change and other decisive factors as Mehta discusses Iran’s motivation.