Europe and Iran: The Nuclear Deal and Beyond, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Europe and Iran

The Nuclear Deal and Beyond, 1st Edition

By Cornelius Adebahr


196 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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The EU’s approach to Iran has emerged as one of the few successes of European foreign policy. Still, its role in international negotiations from 2003, as much as its broader approach to Iran, are generally poorly appreciated by policy-makers in Europe, the United States, and around the world.

This book aims to explain the specifics of the EU’s approach to Iran, taking into account both the complexity of European foreign policy, in particular within transatlantic relations, and Iran’s (aspired) place in the international order. It informs the reader about the special negotiation format that included a number of world powers as well as multilateral bodies such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the UN Security Council. Furthermore, it provides an outlook on European post-nuclear deal strategies and offers conclusions on the effectiveness of Europe’s multilateral approach to foreign policy. By looking at the EU’s diplomatic activities towards Iran over more than a decade, the book focuses on Europe’s actorness in international politics.

This text will be of key interest to scholars, students and practitioners involved or interested in the European Union, Iran, U.S. foreign policy as well as Foreign and Security policy, including sanctions policy, and more broadly to European Politics, Middle East studies and international relations.


'The EU played an indispensable role in achieving a diplomatic resolution to the Iran nuclear challenge. Adebahr usefully identifies the factors that allowed EU foreign policy to deliver and what policy and institutional investments are required to build on the EU’s success at a moment of extraordinary political and geopolitical headwinds.'Ambassador William J. Burns, President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State.

'In this much awaited book, Cornelius Adebahr provides a comprehensive and compelling account of the EU's greatest foreign policy success to date: The E3 + 3 nuclear deal with Iran. Adebahr convincingly highlights not only the significance of the deal but above all how and why the process of achieving it quintessentially reflected the "European way": the resolution of global problems through patient, at times stubborn, multilateral cooperation. A must read for anyone wishing to understand the EU's role in the world.'Nathalie Tocci, Director, Istituto Affari Internazionali, Italy.

'Cornelius Adebahr has provided an invaluable contribution to the saga of the Iran nuclear deal by detailing Europe’s pivotal role in starting and maintaining dialogue with the Islamic Republic. This ‘coming of age’ for Europe as an international actor bodes well for safeguarding the nuclear agreement at a time of new tension between the US and Iran.' - Barbara Slavin, the Atlantic Council, Washington, USA.

'Cornelius Adebahr is among the few people in the world who combines an intimate understanding of the politics of Brussels, Tehran, and Washington. Europe and Iran: The Nuclear Deal and Beyond provides a uniquely informed, dispassionate, and lucid perspective.' - Karim Sadjadpour, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, USA.

'The Iran nuclear deal was hugely important for regional security, multilateral diplomacy and the global non-proliferation regime. Cornelius Adebahr masterfully explores the role of the EU in creating the accord and the role it must continue to play in sustaining, enforcing and expanding upon it.' - Mark Fitzpatrick, International Institute for Strategic Studies, USA.

'The Iran nuclear deal, one of the most important diplomatic breakthroughs of the 21st century, proves that multilateralism is the best instrument to prevent nuclear proliferation and improve global stability. At a time when the international order is under strain, it is vital to bring the spotlight to the European Union’s approach to world affairs and preserve its achievements. With remarkable analytical skill, Cornelius Adebahr reflects on the links between the nuclear deal and the European Union’s role as a global actor, thus making an outstanding contribution to the study of security and international relations.' - Javier Solana, President of ESADEgeo, Spain and former High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union.

'… The JCPoA [Iran Nuclear Deal] has survived thus far, but its future - in its current form at least - is increasingly in jeopardy and it is the tense conditions in 2018 which provide the backdrop for Adebahr's excellent analysis of the JCPoA and the European role in ensuring its success… Adebahr skilfully dissects the key parts of the nuclear agreement to show its strengths and potential pitfalls as well as the regional fallout from what has been celebrated as a twenty-first century counter proliferation success story…' - Anoush Ehteshami, Professor of International Relations in the School of Government and International Affairs, Durham University, UK. Book review in Global Policy Journal, March 2018.

"...The writing style is refined and although it specifically targets a well informed audience, the book is also suitable for providing non-experts with some initial insight into the nuclear deal." - Andrea Aversano Stabile, Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), Italy. Book Review in The International Spectator, Vol. 53, No. 3, pp 151-152, 2018

Table of Contents

Part I: Actorness, Multilateralism, and Effectiveness: How European Foreign Policy and the Iran Nuclear File are Intertwined

1. Introduction: Summary and Overview of the Book

2. Theoretical Background: Actorness and Effective Multilateralism

3. Iran 101: Its political system and foreign policy

Part II: The EU's Actorness on the Iran File

4. Europe’s Distinct Approach

5. EU and US Sanctions: From Policy Ersatz to Powerful Instrument

6. The Transatlantic Tandem and Iran

Part III: Effective Multilateralism as a Policy Approach

7. The Iranian Nuclear Program – Origins and Rationale

8. The Multilateral Context: The Non-proliferation Regime, the IAEA and the UN

9. The Three Phases of (Non-)Negotiations with Iran

Part IV: What’s next? The Successful Deal of 2015 and Beyond

10. Assessing the 2015 Deal in the Light of European Interests

11. Expanding the Deal: Regional Issues and Non-proliferation

12. Conclusion: Europe’s Multilateralism – Is It Effective After All?

About the Author

Cornelius Adebahr is a Political Analyst and entrepreneur based in Berlin, Germany, specializing on European foreign policy and transatlantic relations. He has consulted with political and academic institutions as well as international think tanks in Brussels, Tehran, and Washington, DC.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in European Foreign Policy

The European foreign policy series publishes cutting edge work on Europe’s role in global politics. Europe and the EU now face multiple challenges including: a changing power structure within international relations, tensions in transatlantic relations; a new politics of climate change; continuing conflict in the Middle East; assertive Russian action in Ukraine and other countries on the EU’s eastern borders; and the euro’s impact on the EU’s global power.

Additionally, the Union’s own internal institutional processes have undergone far-reaching change in recent years, new ambitions for the EU in its Global Strategy and a plethora of strategies has been introduced covering Asia, trade, counter-terrorism, democracy and human rights, geo-economics, and other regions and topics.

This series addresses the standard range of conceptual and theoretical questions related to European foreign policy. At the same time, in response to the intensity of new policy developments, it endeavors to ensure that it also has a topical flavor, addressing the most important and evolving challenges to European foreign policy, in a way that will be relevant to the policy-making and think-tank communities.

Key topics include:

  • The EU’s responses to the emergence of a new geopolitics in the Middle East;

  • European and EU policy towards the east, as it grapples with conflict in Ukraine and instability elsewhere across the region covered by the Eastern Partnership;

  • Europe’s changing engagement with rising powers, and in particular with Asia;

  • Transatlantic relations;

  • The foreign policy impact of the EU’s internal crisis;

  • The new Energy Union, energy security and climate change;

  • Europe’s relationship to its southern neighbours in the Mediterranean and in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa.

If you have an idea for a new book in Routledge Studies in European Foreign Policy, please send a written proposal to the Series Editors:

[email protected]  

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Professor Richard G. Whitman is Professor of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent.

Professor Richard YOUNGS is Professor of International Relations at the University of Warwick and Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.


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