Best Analysis

Predicting When New Iranian Oil Will Begin to Flow

Richard NephewRichard NephewProgram Director, Economic Statecraft, Sanctions and Energy Markets, Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, writes for the Columbia Center on Global Energy Policy that while Iran has taken steps to fulfill its commitments under the JCPOA, internal Iranian politics, especially as all sides in the Iranian factional system consider the February elections for the Majles, will probably slow down adoption of the agreement. He notes, however, that for the United States, delays in implementation are ultimately less important so long as the final measures of the agreement are all completed.

Translation of Iranian legislation approving nuclear deal

Members of the Iranian Parliament Discussing the Nuclear Agreement with the West (AP Images)

By Henry Rome

Members of the Iranian parliament (Majles) passed legislation on Oct. 13 approving the implementation of the nuclear deal reached between Iran and the West, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The legislation passed with 161 lawmakers in support, 59 opposed, and 13 abstentions. It was subsequently ratified by the Guardian Council, which vets all Majles legislation, and approved by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The bill was published only in Farsi; Iran Matters’ original English translation is below.

The author thanks Payam Mohseni for editing of translation.

Proliferation Alert! The IAEA and Non-Compliance Reporting

Trevor FindlayTrevor Findlay, Associate with the Project on Managing the Atom at the Belfer Center, provides the first comprehensive study of the International Atomic Energy Agency's handling of states that are not complying with their non-proliferation obligations.

The report finds that none of the cases—which include North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Libya, and Syria, among others—have followed the non-compliance process outlined in the Agency's Statute and safeguards agreements. Rather, each case has posed unique challenges to the non-proliferation regime. The report concludes that creativity and deft statecraft rather than a rigid, formulaic approach are key to the handling of complex non-compliance cases.

In addition to flexibility, the report emphasizes the importance of protecting the impartiality and enhancing the technical capabilities of the Agency's Secretariat and the need for the Board of Governors to assume full responsibility for making non-compliance judgments. It also calls for greater transparency from the Agency and its member states about compliance with safeguards.

The international community would do well to heed the lessons of past cases in dealing with any potential or actual Iranian non-compliance, while Iran should draw the lesson that proactive cooperation and transparency will smooth the compliance path considerably.

The Iran Deal Ship Has Sailed. It is Time to Send Reinforcement

Avner GolovAvner Golov, Researcher at the Center for a New American Security and Research Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, argues that now that the Iran nuclear deal has begun to be implemented, the United States should take measures to fill in the gaps in the agreement. Specifically, he advocates that the US develop additional snapback provisions to deter an Iranian attempt to build a bomb later in the agreement while increasing intelligence cooperation in the region to monitor Iran's program, revitalize partnerships with Arab Sunni states through military support and cooperation to help them check Iran's regional advances, and reinvigorate high level cooperation with Israel.

Cardin introduces Iran Policy Oversight Act of 2015

Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD)

Henry Rome reviews the latest version of the Iran oversight legislation drafted by Sen. Ben Cardin (D, Maryland). Since publishing a “discussion draft” last month, Cardin removed language related to Iranian production of highly enriched uranium (HEU) but retained sections permitting new terrorism sanctions and increasing defense assistance to Israel.

What Happened to the Military Option Against Iran?

Gary SamoreEphraim KamGary Samore, Director of Research at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairsand Ephraim Kam, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, examine the fate of the military option in the process of the Iranian nuclear talks. They discuss how from the beginning, American and Israeli understandings of the use and effectiveness of the military option against the Iranian program, and that while the United States sought to diminish the likelihood of a military attack during the negotiations, Israeli officials accused the US of diminishing the credibility of a potential military attack. While they recommend that the military option be strengthened going forward, considering the continued possibility that Iran will renege on its commitments and potentially try to construct a nuclear weapon, they recognize that many factors will influence whether or not the military option is employed against the Iranian nuclear program going into the future.

Banks Will Help Ensure Iran Keeps Promises On Nukes

Aaron ArnoldNikos PassasAaron Arnold, Associate with the Project on Managing the Atom at the Belfer Center, and Nikos Passas, Professor of Criminal Justice at Northeastern University, argue in The Conversation that Iran's reintegration into the global financial system may in fact make it easier, not more difficult, to monitor Iranian financial activities for illicit transactions. They point to the fact that banks can monitor transactions for entities designated as involved in terrorist or weapons of mass destruction activities by the U.S. Treasury. They also suggest that Iran may adopt stricter money laundering standards in order to increase economic integration. While challenges remain, they suggest that building a public-private partnership between banks and regulators will ensure that Iran will be caught in any illicit financial actions after the nuclear deal.

The Details of the Iran Deal Matter, Now More Than Ever

Ephraim AsculaiEmily LandauEphraim Asculai, Senior Research Fellow at the the Institute for National Security Studies, and Emily Landau, Senior Research Associate at INSS, argue that while the Iran nuclear agreement is being implemented, there are still significant flaws that need to be remedied in the implementation phase to ensure the agreement functions. They suggest meticulous verification mechanisms to monitor Iranian compliance, transparency in the verification regime, professional oversight and analysis of the IAEA's verification techniques, timely reporting, and verifying and checking information provided by member states to the IAEA as ways to ensure that Iran does not cheat on the agreement and is held to its commitments. 

What Should Obama Do Next on Iran?

Nicholas BurnsNicholas Burns, Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center, argues in The New York Times that with the likely passage of the Iran nuclear deal, the President needs to put in place a strategy to continue to check Iran regionally and to ensure that they do not build a nuclear weapon. He suggests the US should reaffirm the American commitment to defend the Gulf Region from any aggressor, clarify that the United States will use force if Iran violates the deal and seeks to build a nuclear weapon, renew US-Israeli security cooperation and mend fences with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and reaffirm US commitment to maintaining a coalition of states opposed to Iran's regional and nuclear ambitions. 

Debating the Iran Nuclear Deal

Robert EinhornRobert Einhorn, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, outlines major issues at stake in the debate about the Iran nuclear deal. Specifically, he discusses what will happen to Iran's program after the initial ten years of the nuclear agreement, how the agreement addresses the potential military aspects of Iran's prior nuclear research, the extent of IAEA access, the importance of arms restrictions on conventional weapons and ballistic missiles, the potential implications of sanctions relief, and the consequences of rejecting the nuclear agreement.

How to put some teeth into the nuclear deal with Iran

Dennis RossDavid PetraeusDennis Ross, International Council Member of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and David Petraeus, Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center, write in The Washington Post that it is necessary for the United States to continue to project a strong deterrent to Iran in order to insure that it does not develop nuclear weapons after the expiration of the most stringent controls of the nuclear deal. Specifically, they argue that the United States should provide Israel with the Massive Ordinance Penetrator bomb, capable of destroying the most heavily defending Iranian nuclear sites, in order to strengthen the deterrent against trying to break out and built a nuclear weapon.

Best Analysis on the Iran Nuclear Deal

Graham AllisonGraham Allison, Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, highlights important analysis pieces discussing the recent Iran nuclear deal. Specifically, he focuses on pieces by Richard Haass, Sandy Berger, Efraim Halevy, Amos Yadlin, Shai Feldman, and Ariel Levite which analyze the important pros and cons of the nuclear deal, its repercussions for US and Israeli policy in the region, and how the United States should move forward in responding to the Iranian nuclear challenge.

Iran and the Arab World after the Nuclear Deal

Iran Report ThumbnailThe Iran Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs has completed a report on Iranian relations with the Arab World in the wake of the Iran nuclear deal. The recent nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1 in Vienna, or the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA), is an historic agreement which is consequential not only for international security and nuclear proliferation but for Iran and the broader Middle East as a whole. In particular, one of the key arenas that the agreement will impact is Iran-Arab world security relations and, at its center, the Iran-Saudi cold war. Spawning regional conflicts and proxy wars from Yemen to Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, the confrontation between these two regional powers serves as the geopolitical and security background upon which the nuclear deal was forged. How this cold war proceeds—whether or not it is effectively managed and resolved, or how it escalates—will largely determine the security dynamics and landscape of the Middle East for years to come.

Given the significant ramifications that these openings may herald for the future of Iran-Arab world ties, it is more important than ever to engage and analyze viewpoints from scholars and analysts based in the region on the future of Iran’s role in the Middle East and Arab security. In this light, this publication brings together a diverse set of voices from Arab world experts to comment on the implications of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 on Iran-Arab security relations. This chapter accordingly begins with a summary and brief analysis of Arab expert opinion in order to elucidate the broader trends and patterns of analytic thought on Iran and the Arab world. Thereafter, the chapter turns to an examination of the implications of the agreement on Iranian politics and the factors shaping the possibility of Iranian foreign policy moderation. It does so because no serious discussion on Iran-Arab security relations can ignore the Iranian decision-making process and domestic Iranian politics.

Iran Deal Keeps Our Military Options Open

Graham AllisonGraham Allison, Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, argues in The Boston Globe that contrary to certain statements, the Iran nuclear agreement actually does not constrain American or Israeli abilities to launch military options against Iran's nuclear facilities if needed in the future. He argues that the intelligence gained from monitoring the Iranian program will help targeting Iranian nuclear sites, and as a result the possibility for a military strike on Iran after the deal would be more likely to be successful than a military strike now.

Deal or No Deal: The Choice Before Congress

Albert CarnesaleAlbert Carnesale, Member of the Board of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, writes in The National Interest that the idea of another deal being negotiated after the current accord under review should Congress reject it is faulty. He argues that there is no diplomatic path to a better deal because American leverage would be significantly weaker if the agreement is rejected, a military solution will fail to set back Iran's program by more than a few years, and Iranian compliance with the deal without the US will tie American hands to influence further nuclear diplomacy with Iran.

How Congress Could Make the Iran Deal Work

William TobeyWilliam Tobey, Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, with Judith Miller, write in Real Clear Politics about steps Congress can take to be confident in the agreement between Iran and the P5+1. They argue that Congress should seek greater clarification on how Iran will comply with its agreements with the IAEA, extend the review period in order to see how Iran responds to some of the early deadlines for compliance under the accord, authorize military force to halt Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state, establish an independent team of experts to assess Iranian compliance, sell weapons to Israel capable of damaging the fortified Iranian nuclear sites, and increase funding for actions to help counter Iran's regional activities.

Just How Vulnerable is Iran to Sanctions?

Aaron Arnold Aaron Arnold, Associate at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, writes in The National Interest that contrary to what some have argued, the more Iran is connected the to global economy, the more vulnerable it is to the snapback sanctions measures built into the Iranian nuclear deal. He argues that as Iran becomes more connected to the global economy, the American dominance of financial markets and the importance of the dollar as a global currency will mean that in the event of snapback, companies will be deterred from action in Iran. As a result, the more Iran reconnects its economy to the world, the more vulnerable it will be to snapback measures.

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