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Current State of Global Sanctions Against Iran

Aaron ArnoldAaron Arnold provides a crucial update on the status of the economic sanctions placed on Iran. He argues that in the short term, a lack of sanctions relief will continue to damage the Iranian economy and undercut efforts by the Rouhani Administration to revitalize growth. However, he points out that new developments in the global economy, such as the creation of an alternative to the SWIFT financial messaging system pushed by Russia and China, will possibly degrade the effectiveness of sanctions in the long run.

Iran Isn’t Just Nuclear Weapons

Ephraim KamEphraim Kam assess Iran's growing regional influence thanks to the success of proxy forces such as Shiite militias in Iraq and the Houthis in Yemen. He argues that even with a nuclear agreement, Iran has strengthened its influence in the Arab world thanks to the lack of a strong Arab balancing force, and that this increased power makes Iranian behavior a continued strategic concern, with or without a nuclear accord.

Belfer Iran Brief – Senate Republicans write open letter to Iranian leadership, negotiations resume, and other news

Forty-seven Republican senators signed a letter indicating that any nuclear deal not approved by Congress could be revoked by the next president with the “stroke of a pen,” President Barack Obama accused senators of making “common cause with the hardliners in Iran,” and more in this week’s Belfer Iran Brief, covering March 4-10, 2015.

Bibi's Speech: A More Sober Assessment

Shai FeldmanShai Feldman, Director of the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University and Member of the Board of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, writes in The National Interest that a careful assessment of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech last week reveals that he made several concessions and avoided making unreasonable demands regarding Iran’s nuclear program. However, Feldman writes, “by insisting on delivering the speech at this unfortunate time, Netanyahu invited a debate focusing on his conduct rather than on the ascribed pitfalls of the deal with Iran.”

The Right Way to Squeeze Iran

James SebeniusJames Sebenius, the Gordon Donaldson Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, writes in The National Interest that the U.S. should offer a stronger batch of carrots and sticks when negotiating with Tehran. These carrots and sticks would come in the form of legislation pre-negotiated between Congress and the White House that would, on the one hand, offer phased, permanent sanctions relief if Iran complies with agreement, or, on the other hand, trigger swift implementation of harsh sanctions if no agreement is reached. “On balance,” Sebenius writes, “this approach offers the prospect of a president with every incentive to hang tough with Iran as well as the ability to offer inducements to that country in return for a more satisfactory nuclear deal.”

Belfer Center Scholars Consider Potential Effects of A Failure of Negotiations with Iran

Secretary Kerry
Secretary of State John Kerry leaves the podium after another round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 in Montreux, Switzerland, which concluded on March 4th, 2015. (AP)

What could happen if the Iranian nuclear talks fail?

Along with President Obama, four members of the Belfer Center's Iran Working Group--Graham Allison, Nader Habibi, Payam Mohseni, and William Tobey, answer the vital question of what scenarios are possible if the negotiations fail, both sides declare diplomacy finished, and the commitments from the interim Joint Plan of Action are voided. 

Belfer Iran Brief – Netanyahu: Deal under consideration “paves Iran’s path to the bomb,” and other news

Belfer Iran BriefIn an address to a joint meeting of Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decried the nuclear deal under consideration with Iran as a danger to the survival of Israel, President Barack Obama assessed that “it’s probably still more likely than not that Iran doesn’t get to yes,” and more in this week’s Belfer Iran Brief, covering February 23 to March 3, 2015.

Imagining Russia, Iran, and the United States if the Nuclear Talks Fail

Alexei ArbatovAlexei Arbatov assess the potential developments in Russian, Iranian, and American relations should the nuclear negotiations break down. He argues that further Russian cooperation on coercing Iran is not likely when Russia and the West remain locked in a standoff over Ukraine, and suggests that Russia and Iran may move to build closer relations in the future.

On Iran: Reject Bibi's False Dichotomy

Graham AllisonGraham Allison, Douglas Dillon Professor of Government and Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, writes in Foreign Policy that the dichotomy between a "good deal" and a "bad deal" as presented by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is an inaccurate way to assess the Iranian nuclear negotiations. He argues that Iran has both been able to drastically shrink the "break out" time it will take to develop enough uranium for a nuclear weapon, and that Iran has been able to develop the knowledge and industrial base that give it an indestructible capacity to produce a nuclear weapon if it makes the decision to do so. The only option at this point, in his assessment, is for the United States and its allies to convince the Iranian leadership that they will not be able to gain an exercisable nuclear weapons option. If the Prime Minister wants to persuade Americans that even if the Obama Administration succeeds in extracting from Tehran a deal that meets the West’s essential objectives, Congress should reject that as a “bad deal,” he must propose a specific, feasible alternative, Allison argues.

Belfer Iran Brief – US “fully prepared” to walk away from talks as “significant gaps” remain, and other news

Belfer Iran BriefUS Secretary of State John Kerry said the US will leave talks if negotiations don’t yield more progress, the Iranian government again lowered its prediction for future oil revenues, and other news in this week’s Belfer Iran Brief, covering …

Quandaries of Emulation

Professor Roy MottahedahRoy Mottahadeh, Gurney Professor of Islamic History at Harvard University, highlights a previously little understood dynamic: the importance of Shia religious leaders in influencing the religious, political, and social views of their followers. In The Quandaries of Emulation, Professor Roy Mottahedeh traces the development of Shia religious leaders, specifically marja al-taqlids, or "sources of emulation," and the bases of their influence within the Shia community.

Belfer Iran Brief: March 24 deadline solidifies, Khamenei agrees that “no deal is better than a bad deal,” and other news

Belfer Iran BriefIranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, US Secretary of State John Kerry and US President Barack Obama all stated that negotiations between the West and Iran should not continue past March 24 if substantial progress is not made in the meantime, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced that he agrees with Obama that “no deal is better than a bad deal,” and other news in this week’s Belfer Iran Brief, covering February 3 to February 9, 2015.

Belfer Iran Brief — Rouhani accuses hardliners of “sabotage” and other news

Belfer Iran BriefPresident Hassan Rouhani accused hardliners of trying to “sabotage” the national interest, “as if they are cheering on the rival team,” leader of Friday prayers in Tehran said Iranians should be able to endure eating one meal per day in the name of a “resistance economy,” and more in this week’s edition of the Belfer Iran Brief, covering January 24 to February 2, 2015.

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