This article demonstrates that Iran conforms to Richard K. Betts' model of a 'pariah' nuclear aspirant, as its nuclear program is driven by a potent combination of security, normative and domestic political motivations. The regime's commitment to its nuclear program is influenced by Iran's long-standing sense of vulnerability to both regional and international adversaries, and an enduring sense of national humiliation at the hands of foreign powers, in parallel with a powerful belief in the superiority of Persian civilisation. This has resulted in the development of a narrative of 'hyper-independence' in Iran's foreign policy that simultaneously rejects political, cultural or economic dependence and emphasises 'self-reliance'. The presumed security benefits that a nuclear weapons option provides are seen as ensuring Iranian 'self-reliance' and 'independence'. This suggests that current strategies that focus exclusively on Iran's security motivations or on a heightened regime of sanctions are fundamentally flawed, as they fail to recognise the mutually reinforcing dynamic between Iran's security and normative/status-derived nuclear motivations.