Best Analysis

How to Save the Iran Deal

Dennis RossDennis Ross, International Council Member at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, argues in Politico that the key to a successful nuclear agreement with Iran is not the physical rollback of the Iranian program, but the transparency measures that allow the P5+1 to assess Iranian behavior. Specifically, he suggests that Iran is probably maneuvering to maintain the diplomatic "red lines" stated by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei regarding sanctions relief and enrichment, and so to both allow Iran to stay within most of their public limits while still assuaging American concerns, extremely robust verification measures are required.

"Three Myths about the Iran Sanctions"

Aaron ArnoldAaron Arnold, Associate with the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, writes in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists that several myths continue to be referenced in discussion of the framework agreement between the P5+1 on Iran's nuclear program. Specifically, he critiques the ideas that international partners will continue to support America's efforts to sanction Iran in the absence of an agreement, that snap-back sanctions will not be effective in pressuring Iran, and that the United States can continue to control the financial system to the degree necessary to pressure Iran.

Belfer Iran Brief – Corker bill Passes Committee, Sanctions and Inspections Emerge as Main Disputes, and Other News

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved a revised Corker-Menendez bill that requires Congressional review over a nuclear deal with Iran, a senior IRGC commander denied that inspectors would have access to military facilities, and more in this week’s Belfer Iran Brief, covering April 13-20, 2015.

Visualizing the Iranian Nuclear Deal

Iran Locations

To complement the publication of the policy brief “Decoding the Nuclear Deal,” the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs is releasing a package of original graphics that explain different facets of the Iranian nuclear deal.

The charts, graphs and map below track the history of diplomatic engagement with Iran, including successive red lines made and ignored; present Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon, including its accumulation of low-enriched and medium-enriched uranium; and detail the recent framework accord announced on April 2.

Best Analysis on Iran Nuclear Framework

Graham AllisonGary SamoreGraham Allison, Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and Gary Samore, Director of Research at the Belfer Center, highlight the best analysis pieces on the recent framework agreement with Iran over its nuclear program. Specifically, they break down analysis pieces that focus on the agreement itself, its regional implications, and the domestic political response to it. 

Iranian Parliament Hardliner Releases Own “Fact Sheet” on Nuclear Accord

Chairman of the Majles Nuclear Committee
Ebrahim Karkhaneyee, Chairman of the Iranian Parliament's (Majles) Nuclear Committee. He released his own fact sheet about the nuclear negotiations this week. (Fars News Agency).

Ebrahim Karkhaneyee, the hardline chairman of the Iranian parliament’s Nuclear Committee released, his own “fact sheet” about the framework nuclear accord, outlining proposed revisions to the framework agreement.

The fact sheet was published unilaterally by Ebrahim Karkhaneyee, a representative from Hamedan province who ran for elections under the joint list of the United Principalist Front and the more hard-line Steadfastness Front. The document makes a number of suggestions, including limiting the term of the agreement to five years and not reducing the number of active centrifuges.

The article from Fars News announcing the fact sheet, in addition to the text itself, is included below.

Presidential Candidates on the Iran Deal Framework: The Republicans

Sam RatnerSam Ratner, research assistant at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, writes an assessment of the positions of Republican candidates for the 2016 presidential election. Specifically, he notes a general divide between candidates who have rejected the framework agreement outright, and those who are opposed to it if it attempts to go circumvent Congressional authority. Both groups have serious reservations about the agreement.

Hezbollah ‘Delivers’ Assad: Implications of Iran’s Involvement in Syrian Crisis

Daniel SobelmanDaniel Sobelman, Research Fellow with the International Security Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, writes that Iran's and Hezbollah's involvement in the ongoing conflict in Syria has major potential strategic implications for Israel and the region. He notes that Iranian military and economic aid have been crucial in saving the Syrian regime, and argues that this has put Iran in the dominant position to determine Syria's strategic directory for some time to come. He goes on to state that the disintegration of state authority near the Golan Heights and the ongoing fighting there between the regime and its allies and the rebel forces has created the potential for another "border" between Israel and Iran, in addition to the positions held by Hezbollah in South Lebanon, complicating Israel's regional security posture.

Corker-Menendez approved unanimously; Congressional review time reduced, terror provision removed

Senator Bob Corker
Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a key mover of legislation related to Iran. (Wikimedia)

By Henry Rome

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved a revised version of the Corker-Menendez bill this week, and the White House confirmed that President Obama would not veto the measure. The revised version differs from its predecessor in two main ways: the length of time for Congressional review is reduced and the terrorism certification provision is removed.

Decoding the Iran Nuclear Deal

Iran Deal PrimerOn April 2, 2015, the EU (on behalf of the P5+1 countries) and Iran announced agreement on “key parameters” for a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran. The EU-Iran Joint Statement is buttressed by unilateral fact sheets issued by the U.S. and Iran, which provide further details of the framework accord.  Not surprisingly, differences have emerged between the U.S. and Iranian versions of the deal. These differences reflect both political spin and remaining issues that have not been resolved.  In the next phase of this process, the negotiators will seek to finalize a comprehensive agreement by June 30, 2015.

To assist Members of Congress and others to evaluate the emerging deal, the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School has prepared this Policy Brief summarizing key facts, core concepts, and major arguments for and against the emerging deal. Amidst the sound and fury of claim and counter-claim, the purpose of this Policy Brief is not to advocate support for or opposition to the deal, but rather to provide an objective, nonpartisan summary to inform Members of Congress and others in coming to their own conclusions. The team of experts who prepared this report includes Democrats, Republicans, independents, and internationals, who have many disagreements among themselves, but who agree that this Brief presents the essentials objectively. Since the negotiations are ongoing and the debate is intensifying, we invite readers who disagree with our presentation or who have additional questions or points to send their comments to us at If suitable, we will post these contributions with attribution on our website Iran Matters.