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

Kerry Walking Away from Podium


What could happen if the Iranian nuclear talks fail?

"The alternative that the prime minister offers is no deal, in which case Iran will immediately begin once again pursuing its nuclear program, accelerate its nuclear program, without us having any insight into what they’re doing, and without constraint."
-President Barack Obama, March 3rd, 2015

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.