Several prominent Israelis, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, visited Washington this week, President Obama spoke with Bloomberg View, Iran demonstrated progress on implementing the terms of the interim deal, and more in this edition of the weekly news from the Iran portfolio for March 1-7, 2014. Read more about Belfer Iran Brief—Bibi comes to Washington and other news
Robert Reardon, a research fellow at the Project on Managing the Atom, writes that hawks in Congress have a great deal of power over the fate of any final nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1. President Obama, he argues, has to walk a tight line between negotiating an agreement that Iran will agree to and convincing Congress to actually deliver on the concessions he will have to promise to Iran. Read more about Achieving a comprehensive agreement with Iran: The formidable challenges ahead
Samuel Cutler, policy adviser at Ferrari & Associates, P.C., highlights budgetary struggles of the offices of the Treasury Department responsible for administering sanctions against Iran. These offices, he argues, should receive attention from policymakers to ensure the continued strength of the American sanctions regime. Read more about The importance of funding sanctions enforcement
Sam Ratner examines claims by opponents of the Joint Plan of Action that Iran's rising oil exports represent the crumbling of the U.S. sanctions architecture against Iran. The claims, he argues, are misleading, but the Obama administration's claim that exports will remain flat is still a political misstep. Read more about Are increasing Iranian oil exports undermining sanctions?
The IAEA withheld a report on Iran’s weaponization activities last year, Senate Republicans failed again to get a vote on new sanctions, Iran talked with Iraq and North Korea, and more in this edition of weekly news from the Iran portfolio for February 22-28, 2014.
William Tobey wrote a post for the Shadow Government blog at Foreign Policy detailing his concern that the Obama administration's slow progress in dealing with Bashar al-Assad and his chemical weapons stockpile sets the stage for failure in nuclear negotiations with Iran. For Tehran, Tobey said, the lesson of America's efforts in Syria is obvious:
Reach an interim agreement that deflates international pressure for action, drag your feet on implementation, and keep your illicit weapons program as the world dithers.
As the P5+1 and Iran approved an agenda for future talks, Iran’s supreme leader and others tempered expectations back home, and more, in this edition of weekly news from the Iran portfolio for February 15-21, 2014.
Gary Samore sat down with Jeffrey Goldberg of Bloomberg View to discuss prospects for a final nuclear agreement with Iran. Samore was not optimistic, saying:
I don’t think the Iranians feel compelled to make these kinds of concessions [that the U.S. is demanding]... This won’t work in terms of finding a comprehensive solution. These negotiations can lead to an interim solution, so that’s what is happening now... But this is a truce. It’s a classic truce.
Seven members of the Belfer Center's Iran Working Group--Graham Allison, Nader Habibi, Payam Mohseni, Gary Samore, Will Tobey, Jim Walsh, and Stephen Walt--offer their thoughts and predictions on the current round of P5+1 nuclear talks being held in Vienna.
Annie Tracy Samuel argues that many Western analysts and news outlets are misstating the position of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on nuclear negotiations. The Guards, she writes, are "cautiously open" to an agreement, despite speculation that they are among the main agitators against the negotiations.
Nasser Hadian, professor of international relations at the University of Tehran, came to the Belfer Center and spoke with Payam Mohseni, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Center, about Iranian domestic politics and the P5+1 negotiations.
Andrew Wojtanik notes that the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, despite reporting on the same report by the International Monetary Fund, reach divergent conclusions on the state of Iran's economy.
Iran reached a new accord with the IAEA, a new International Monetary Fund report on Iran’s economy was met with mixed reviews, Iranians celebrated the 35-year anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, and more, in this edition of weekly news from the Iran portfolio for February 8-14, 2014.
Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, a professor of economics at Virginia Tech,explores some of the domestic economic challenges that President Rouhani faces in Iran through the lens of a troubled food aid program. Salehi-Isfahani examines the government's struggle to find an efficient solution to deliver aid to needy households, and contrasts Rouhani's approach to past efforts to cope with the problem.
As experts, pundits, and policymakers stake out positions on upcoming talks with Iran, Gary Samore and Andrew Wojtanik look at the range of acceptable "end-states" being proposed for Iran's enrichment program.
Jofi Joseph, former director for nonproliferation on the White House National Security Council staff, considers the issues that the Obama administration is wrestling with as it prepares for the launch of talks next week in Vienna on a comprehensive agreement on Iran's nuclear program.
As the next round of nuclear negotiations approaches on February 18, two senior Iranian officials hinted at flexibility on the Arak heavy-water reactor, Treasury announced new penalties for sanctions shirkers, and President Rouhani faced mounting criticism at home.