Best Analysis

53 National Security Leaders Welcome Implementation of the Iran Nuclear Agreement

Graham AllisonJoseph NyeJim WalshGraham Allison, Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Joseph Nye, Harvard University Distinguished Service Professorand James Walsh, Research Associate with the Security Studies Program at MIT were among a group of 53 national security leaders and analysts who signed a statement supporting the implementation of the Iran nuclear agreement. The statement highlights the progress made by the agreement in limiting Iran's nuclear program and reaffirms, despite continued differences between the United States and Iran, the value of diplomacy in resolving international disputes.

Iran Nuclear Deal Implementation Day: A Belfer Center Expert Round-Up

The Iran nuclear deal was officially implemented on Saturday, as Iran successfully fulfilled its initial key nuclear commitments and the international community relieved major sanctions, including unfreezing about $100 billion of Iranian money. Implementation Day was met with applause from deal supporters in the U.S. and Iran, while critics have raised questions about whether Iran will adhere to its requirements and how it will flex its newfound economic power. Also in recent days, the U.S. and Iran agreed to a prisoner swap that led to the freedom of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and others, and negotiated the release of American sailors detained in Iran. What does the arrival of Implementation Day mean for Iran’s nuclear program and nuclear nonproliferation, and how does it bode for the future of U.S.-Iran relations? We asked Belfer Center experts to weigh in on these and related questions.

What about the integrity of Iran’s financial system?

Aaron ArnoldAaron Arnold, Associate with the Project on Managing the Atom at the Belfer Center, writes in The Hill that while Iran will soon be getting sanctions relief as the nuclear accord with the P5+1 is enacted, it has not yet taken steps to update its banking system and bring it up to international money laundering and counter-terror financing. He also suggests that in order to balance the competing political and financial concerns at play with sanctions, the international community led by the United States should make clear conditions for both exclusion and rejoining of the international financial system.

Reading the IAEA’s Report on Possible Military Dimensions in Iran’s Nuclear Program

Olli HeinonenOlli Heinonen, Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, writes that despite the general lack of cooperation from Iran, the IAEA has produced a successful comprehensive report detailing Iran's nuclear activities. However he notes that Iran's noncompliance has hampered the final determinations, and so further investigation and intelligence operations should be conducted to determine the extent of Iranian nuclear activity.

Belfer Experts Comment on New IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear program

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano briefs members of the media at a press conference held during the 1412th Board of Governors meeting on Iran. IAEA Headquarters, Vienna, Austria, 25 August 2015. (IAEA)

The International Atomic Energy Agency released its “final assessment” yesterday of the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program. Seven members of the Belfer Center’s Iran Working Group -- Graham Allison, Matthew Bunn, Martin Malin, Richard Nephew, Gary Samore, Will Tobey, and Trevor Findlay  -- commented on their reactions to the IAEA report and how it will impact the nuclear deal with Iran.

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.