Using Hugh Heclo’s issue network theoretical framework and William Domhoff’s network analysis methodology, the present article aims to elucidate the roots of Obama's Iran policy in the context of the Iran issue network the year prior to his election to the presidency in 2008. An in-depth study of the issue network associated with the debate over the United States’ Iran policy identifies 182 individuals who participated in the debate between January 2008 and January 2009. Based on their policy recommendations, the study uncovers the existence of the following four policy communities: Punitive Nonengagement, Hawkish Engagement, Strategic Engagement and Fundamental Change. While regime change is the ultimate objective of both the Punitive Nonengagement and the Hawkish Engagement policy communities, only the latter believes that negotiation is a useful tactic in gaining compliance from Iran. Both, however, view Iran as a major threat to U.S. and Israeli interests and see no role for Iran in solving regional challenges. The Strategic Engagement policy community does not share this abysmal appraisal of Iran; rather, its members see meaningful cooperation between the United States and Iran on key regional issues as viable if their relationship is based on mutual respect. The Fundamental Change policy community finds the underlying assumptions of U.S. Iran policy vitally flawed and believes that all policy options short of an overhaul of U.S. international behavior lack ethical and legal legitimacy. Both the Strategic Engagement and Fundamental Change policy communities argue U.S. should cease its pursuit of regime change in Iran and abide by its obligations under the Algiers Accord. The Obama administration’s Iran policy best fits the recommendations of the Hawkish Engagement policy community. 

Keywords: Iran, United States, Iran Issue Network, Policy Recommendations