Constance Duncombe
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Iranian representations of the US and Iran’s nuclear program
in Representation, recognition and respect in world politics
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In this chapter the case study of representations that frame Iran–United States foreign policy discourse continues. The key objective is to examine Iranian representations of itself, the US and Iran’s nuclear program. It argues that Iran represents itself as a Shi’a state, progressive, triumphing over adversity, and represents the US as a bully, deceitful, meddling and threatening. Iran’s representations form a particular discursive framework through which it understands the US and its response to Iran’s nuclear program. Iranian representations of the US are well established within a Self–Other framework, particularly in terms of religion as a civilisational discourse. However, the rhetoric Iran employs challenges the US representational hierarchy of a dominant US and Iran as the subaltern. Iranian representations reinforce its agency as a state and its position of power in the international system, whereas the US is represented as a bully focused on undermining Iran. The historical narratives Iran uses to represent both itself and the US are the 1953 Mossadegh coup and the 1980–1988 Iran–Iraq War, which emphasise the intimidating and imperialist nature of the US.

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