First Advisor

Bruce Gilley

Date of Publication

Fall 11-7-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Political Science


Political Science




Russia (Federation) -- Foreign relations -- Iran -- Analysis, Iran -- Foreign relations -- Russia (Federation) -- Analysis, International relations -- Analysis



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 110 p.) : col. ill.


In the study of contemporary politics few interstate relationships have proven more instrumental, controversial, and perplexing to global policy makers than that which has persisted between Moscow and Tehran since the collapse of the USSR. Despite the great importance of Russian-Iranian relations to questions of global and regional politics there has, to date, been very little in the way of critical scholarship performed on the subject. While a wide-array of accounts from subject analysts provide a wealth of data on contemporary and historical events which have presumably defined and conditioned bilateral relations, there has been relatively little effort to isolate, examine, test, and evaluate those conditions or variables that are deemed salient to cooperation. In light of these circumstances, this study seeks to initiate a tradition of scholarship on Russian-Iranian relations that appeals broadly to the use of a scientific methodology. The first step of any scientific inquiry requires attention devoted expressly to the development of a dependent variable of bilateral political affinity. While it remains outside the scope of this present investigation to analyze the host of factors/conditions capable of influencing bilateral relations, the formalization of a variable which records changing political affinity is a necessary first step and one that will fill-in a significant gap within the existing literary tradition. Rather than simply dismissing the extant tradition of literature on Russian-Iranian relations, this study seeks to aggregate and transform the subject's many diverse narratives into a user-friendly, quantitative, political metric which can form the basis for future empirical inquiry. Thus this study introduces a new approach to monitoring and measuring changes in Russian-Iranian cooperation known as General Political Affinity (GPA). Represented on the basis of a 21-point scaled indicator of bilateral affinity, GPA succinctly defines cooperation between Moscow and Tehran as the summation of three underlying, persistent issue dimensions: the trade in conventional weapons; cooperation in Iranian nuclear development; and level of agreement on matters of Caspian Sea delimitation. In more generic terms, these three criteria seek to evaluate interstate cooperation, generically, as a product of: defense cooperation; state-sponsored development assistance; and territorial agreement. The unique approach to operationalizing political affinity presented in this study not only functionally improves our ability to explain and predict the course of Russian-Iranian relations, but also provides a new schematic for evaluating bilateral relations among all political dyads.


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