Looking back on the past year, five RAND experts respond to a series of critical questions about the Iran nuclear deal, its implementation, and potential challenges ahead.
Jul 12, 2016 The RAND Blog
Iran's recent elections are being heralded as major wins for Iran's long-struggling 'moderates.' But the conservative political establishment is also a winner, despite its reported losses in parliament and the Assembly of Experts.
Mar 2, 2016 Foreign Policy Concepts
On the whole, ties between the United States and Iran are improving, but to think that a new era in Iran or in U.S.-Iran relations has arrived is a stretch. The U.S. has achieved an important diplomatic breakthrough with Iran, but it still faces the same regime it has since 1979.
Feb 23, 2016 U.S. News & World Report
The nuclear accord between Iran and the United States has induced a sense of abandonment in Riyadh. The Saudis may fear that Washington might one day replace its alliance with Saudi Arabia with a new partnership with Iran; or perhaps more realistically, that Washington might come to depend less on Riyadh given improving ties with Iran.
Jan 22, 2016 The Cipher Brief
While Rouhani and his team want Iran's gradual opening, reactionary forces aligned with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, much of the security establishment, and the clergy are likely to stand guard against “anti-revolutionary” tendencies and policies.
Nov 2, 2015 The Cipher Brief
Now is the time for Washington to prove its leadership and implement the Iran nuclear deal. The alternative is a major diplomatic defeat for America and an unrestricted Iranian nuclear program.
Aug 30, 2015 The National Interest
The nuclear accord paves the way for Iranian-Americans to help Iranians know the United States not for past perceived misdeeds, but future possibilities.
Aug 3, 2015 The Hill
Rouhani was elected president because he offered hope; he claimed that the nuclear agreement would be the key to unlock or solve Iran's problems. But it will take more than that to make Iran a better place to live. Can he achieve his people's dreams? Is he even willing?
Jul 24, 2015 Al-Monitor
A U.S. rejection of the Iran nuclear agreement would send the wrong message, not only to Iran but also to America's closest allies, and it would not serve American interests in the region.
Jul 22, 2015 War on the Rocks
The nuclear agreement signed between Iran and the P5+1 prevents Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability in the near future while giving some space for Iranian proponents of change.
Jul 15, 2015 USA Today
Diplomats have reached a nuclear agreement with Iran. Now, the United States faces important policy decisions that will help shape the days ahead and the relationship that emerges between Iran and the other parties involved.
Jul 14, 2015 The RAND Blog
More than $100 billion of Iranian oil proceeds are “frozen” in foreign bank accounts under the current sanctions regime. The repatriation of Iran's money would no doubt boost a flagging economy.
Jul 2, 2015 The National Interest
Instability in Yemen does not benefit Iran, Saudi Arabia, or the United States. AQAP is a major threat to all three countries. And neither side in the Yemeni conflict has the capability to impose central authority in Yemen by itself.
May 12, 2015 The Arab Weekly
No one should expect miracles after a nuclear deal. Khamenei and his system will not change so easily. But Iranians have been patient. The United States should be as well.
Apr 20, 2015 The National Interest
President Barack Obama hailed last week's framework for an Iranian nuclear accord as a 'historic understanding,' and there was celebration in Iran, but many challenges remain.
Apr 6, 2015 The RAND Blog
Nuclear negotiations should not be held hostage to all of the things Iran may be doing right or wrong. The conflicts in the Middle East are much more complex than 'Iran on the march' theories would have us believe.
Feb 11, 2015 The National Interest
Iran is playing a crucial role in buttressing President Bashar Assad, through military advice, provision of weapons, and funding of the cash-strapped Syrian government. The Assad regime might not survive without support of Iran and its allies such as Hezbollah.
Jan 26, 2015 The Iran Primer, USIP
The Iranian government, particularly the Revolutionary Guards, is playing a huge role in helping the Iraqi security forces fight the Islamic State. Iraq and Iran share a 910-mile border that is mostly porous. Iraq's territorial integrity is critical for Iran too.
Jan 26, 2015 The Iran Primer, USIP
The extension of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 is disappointing, but it's better than the alternatives. Now it's time for the Iranian government to show greater flexibility. It may have gained a few months, but in the long run, time is not on its side.
Nov 26, 2014 The Woodrow Wilson Center
While it is not surprising that the alleged letter from President Obama to Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei has upset domestic critics of the nuclear negotiations, the alleged correspondence has also unsettled Israel and Saudi Arabia, which fear a 'bad' deal with Iran and even secret collusion between Washington and Tehran. But such concerns seem unfounded.
Nov 14, 2014 CNN
If the public inflexibility of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif isn't mere diplomatic posturing, they would be gambling not only with their own political futures, but the futures of 80 million Iranians as well.
Sep 26, 2014 The National Interest
The impeachment of Iranian science minister Reza Faraji-Dana, the latest episode in the struggle between Iran's so-called moderates and hard-liners, is likely a sign of troubling times ahead. And even though President Hassan Rouhani is the West's best hope of the nuclear issue being addressed, a deal could energize his rivals in their bid to stave off change.
Sep 8, 2014 CNN
The presence of Iranian and American troops in Iraq may necessitate clear and direct communications between the two sides, at least to prevent misunderstanding and greater chaos. But Washington should tread carefully and focus on nuclear negotiations for now.
Jul 3, 2014 Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles
Washington will strive to achieve the best deal for U.S. and allied interests. Iran may not like that; after all, Khamenei may want to preserve most of Iran's nuclear-weapons capability. But his regime is simply in no position to make such maximalist demands. Iran has to lower its expectations if it wants a deal.
Jun 2, 2014 The National Interest
Rouhani, while so far effective in Iran's nuclear negotiations, has an uphill battle at home. While the Iranian conservative establishment is likely to support his nuclear policy for now, it is unlikely to concede him the full economic and political agenda he seeks. Not without a fight, anyhow.
Feb 6, 2014 Lobe Log
Iran may be more influential in Iraq today than it has been since the Safavid era, but this is not so much due to Iranian strength as Iraqi weakness. Iraq will need Iran as long as it faces an uncertain future — unrest at home, war in Syria, and isolation from the Arab world.
Jan 27, 2014 World Politics Review
Sanctions are not a button that can be pushed to strengthen the U.S. position automatically; they must be used in tandem with diplomacy, and a deeper understanding of Iranian, Chinese and Russian motivations.
Jan 23, 2014 The National Interest
The Geneva agreement is only a first step toward a comprehensive deal but it is an important achievement. Iran's ability to move toward a nuclear weapons breakout capability has been halted in return for limited sanctions relief.
Nov 25, 2013 Foreign Policy
It appears that Iran and the P5+1 are close to agreeing for Tehran to suspend major aspects of its program, including the enrichment of uranium to a medium level of 20 percent, and installation of more advanced centrifuges, in return for reversible and limited easing of sanctions.
Nov 21, 2013 The National Interest
Iran and the P5+1 (the U.S., Britain, France, China, and Russia plus Germany) came tantalizingly close to reaching a nuclear deal this past weekend in Geneva, but the talks ended without an agreement. Although both Iran and the United States expressed optimism that much was achieved, a blame game between the different players soon ensued.
Nov 15, 2013 Lobe Log
The Nov. 7–8 negotiations between Iran and six world powers (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany) could prove to be a critical point in the Iranian nuclear crisis. New sanctions under consideration by Congress could lead to a weakening of the overall U.S. position.
Nov 6, 2013 The Hill
Sanctions have taken a heavy toll on the Iranian economy, and the Islamic Republic may finally be motivated to take steps to rein in its nuclear program, including accepting limits on uranium enrichment, in exchange for lessening the pressure.
Oct 14, 2013 Foreign Policy
According to Khamenei, the Islamic Republic is willing to engage its enemy, or show “flexibility,” in order to win the overall competition. However, Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards have also laid out clear red lines for Rouhani. He is to demonstrate no weakness or “humility” with the opponent, the United States.
Sep 27, 2013 Inter Press Service
If his words are any guide, Iran's supreme leader is pivoting to diplomacy. Long an advocate of “resistance” to the United States, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei now praises his new president, Hassan Rouhani, for his administration's “heroic” and “artful” approach toward foreign policy.
Sep 23, 2013 Politico
Iran has a strategic interest in opposing chemical weapons due to its own horrific experience during the 1980–1988 war with Iraq. But it also has compelling reasons to continue supporting Damascus. The Syrian regime is Iran's closest ally in the Middle East and the geographic link to its Hezbollah partners in Lebanon.
Sep 11, 2013 United States Institute of Peace's Iran Primer
Syria is Iran's only real state ally in the Middle East. But Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's behavior puts Iranian leaders, especially the newly elected President Hassan Rowhani, in a quandary.
Aug 30, 2013 ForeignPolicy.com
There are increasing reports suggesting that President Obama will soon take military action against the Syrian government, perhaps targeting its chemical weapons facilities. Several RAND experts spoke with us about the latest developments.
Aug 30, 2013
Rouhani's new government is not pro-Western by any stretch of the imagination, writes Alireza Nader. But its political interests and Iran's current predicament provide a unique opportunity to solve the nuclear crisis peacefully.
Aug 12, 2013 U.S. News & World Report
The resolution of Iran's nuclear crisis does not only depend on U.S.-Iranian relations, but also on other factors including the fate of three Iranian prisoners.
Aug 2, 2013 Inter Press Service
The imposition of sanction after sanction without a clear diplomatic approach may convince Iran's leadership that the United States seeks regime implosion and overthrow rather than a solution to the nuclear crisis, write Alireza Nader and Colin H. Kahl.
Jun 27, 2013 Al-Monitor
Rouhani may improve the economy in pursuing his underlying goal to preserve the Islamic system, writes Alireza Nader. But not all Iranians would be satisfied with just economic improvements. Many want greater freedom of expression and a bigger say in the political system.
Jun 24, 2013 United States Institute of Peace's Iran Primer
Iran's unelected institutions—the deep state—remain more powerful than any other force. At the same time, Rouhani's election may mean that Khamenei realizes the extent of Iran's crisis and is willing to let Rouhani pave a way forward.
Jun 17, 2013 The RAND Blog
Iranian politics are personal, writes Alireza Nader. Indeed, the theocrats are decidedly earthly in their rivalries. But the 2013 election is particularly telling. It may be settling a score dating back a quarter century.
May 31, 2013 United States Institute of Peace's Iran Primer
When contemplating the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran, we should all be grateful that notions of martyrdom and apocalyptic beliefs don't have a significant pull on Iranian decision-making, writes Alireza Nader.
May 29, 2013 Foreign Policy and Newsday
Neither Ahmadinejad nor Mashaei will be the political 'messiahs' many religious and secular Iranians long for, writes Alireza Nader. Much like Khatami and the reformists, figures like Ahmadinejad are willing to challenge the system only to a limited degree.
May 15, 2013 U.S. News & World Report
Tehran views Syria as a strategic gateway to the Arab world, a bulwark against American and Israeli power, and, perhaps most importantly, a crucial link to Lebanese Hezbollah, writes Alireza Nader.
Apr 25, 2013 U.S. News & World Report
The economic pains caused by the Iranian regime's mismanagement, corruption, and international sanctions have dealt serious blows to worker wages, benefits, and job security — enough reason for Iranian laborers to organize and oppose the regime.
Apr 22, 2013 Foreign Policy
Non-Persian ethnic minorities make up roughly 40 to 50 percent of Iran's population. Marginalized from society, they may choose a path of political apathy. On the other hand, Tehran's refusal to acknowledge minority rights may lead to future ethnic insurgencies and uprisings.
Apr 4, 2013 Foreign Policy
The June election will not be about mobilizing the Iranian public. It is instead the culmination of a years-long evolution in Iranian politics: the transformation of the Islamic Republic from a mildly representative theocracy into a Revolutionary Guards-controlled kleptocracy, writes Alireza Nader.
Mar 7, 2013 U.S. News & World Report
Khamenei's mounting pressures may compel him to be more flexible on the nuclear program, writes Alireza Nader. Otherwise, he will face greater sanctions, more internal political opposition, and, possibly, the wrath of his own people.
Feb 11, 2013 wilsoncenter.org
If Obama's election didn't change Tehran's view of U.S. policy, it's hard to see how Hagel's nomination could. After all, America's war-weariness is no secret, and it's hardly limited to Vietnam veterans such as Hagel, writes Alireza Nader.
Feb 6, 2013 NYTimes.com
Iran is still willing to give diplomacy a chance after a seven-month hiatus, as demonstrated by the announcement of new talks. But Tehran wants the P5+1 to make the first move, writes Alireza Nader.
Feb 5, 2013 United States Institute of Peace's Iran Primer
Jafari now commands one of the most feared militaries in the Middle East, which is also far better equipped than Iran’s conventional army, navy and air force, writes Alireza Nader. He has an estimated 150,000 troops under his control.
Jan 22, 2013 United States Institute of Peace's Iran Primer
Iran's inability to sell its oil due to sanctions will not only shrink the resources available to the Guard as a military force, but will crimp the wealth of individual Guard officers. This could erode the Guard's loyalty to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, writes Alireza Nader.
Jan 8, 2013 Al-Monitor
The Islamic Republic faces the potential of stronger economic sanctions and even a military strike because of its intransigence in complying with U.N. resolutions on its nuclear program. It also must deal with twin domestic challenges—deepening malaise among the young and increasing tensions among the political elite, writes Alireza Nader.
Jan 2, 2013 PBS FRONTLINE and USIP.org
The U.S. effort to isolate and pressure Iran in order to extract concessions on the nuclear program faces a significant vulnerability: the ties between Iran and the People’s Republic of China, says Alireza Nader.
Nov 12, 2012 BBC Persian
Any instability in Iran, even if it is meant to pressure Ahmadinejad, is bad news for the entire regime. The nose-diving economy has affected the lives of millions of Iranians; they are unlikely just to blame Ahmadinejad alone, writes Alireza Nader.
Oct 4, 2012 U.S. News & World Report
In a conflict with the United States or Israel, Tehran could turn to terror tactics—directly or indirectly through proxies—to create leverage when it is significantly outmanned and outgunned against conventional military forces, writes Alireza Nader.
Oct 3, 2012 United States Institute of Peace's Iran Primer
Just by threatening to close the Strait, Iran increases pressure on the U.S. to restrain Israel from attacking Iran. Other key players—including major oil importers such as China, Japan, and India—would be reluctant to support military action because of heavy dependence on Persian Gulf oil, writes Alireza Nader.
Oct 2, 2012 United States Institute of Peace's Iran Primer
Iranian leaders are well aware that they cannot defeat the U.S. military in a face-to-face conflict. But as Hezbollah's 2006 war with Israel demonstrated, battlefield losses (or draws) can be turned into psychological victories, writes Alireza Nader.
Oct 1, 2012 United States Institute of Peace's Iran Primer
Not until the Obama administration had Iran faced sanctions with serious bite. The administration has managed to build a wide and deep international coalition against Iran, writes Alireza Nader.
Sep 26, 2012 Foreign Policy
Emphasizing human rights will demonstrate to the Iranian people that the U.S. cares for their future. Threats of military action and war will only convince the Iranian opposition that America is a hostile power that supports regime change for its own narrow purposes, write James Dobbins and Alireza Nader.
Aug 23, 2012 Foreign Affairs
Khamenei faces a critical choice in the months ahead: make a compromise to lessen tensions with the United States and the international community, or maintain a status quo that may set in motion the demise of his regime, writes Alireza Nader.
May 22, 2012 ForeignPolicy.com
Beset by economic problems, political divisions, and domestic discontent, Iranian leaders may compromise—or appear to make compromises—to cushion the regime from the mounting internal and external pressures, writes Alireza Nader.
Apr 17, 2012 United States Institute of Peace's Iran Primer and PBS.org
For Khamenei, increasing US and Israeli concerns regarding the nuclear program may enhance its value as a deterrent and point of leverage in Iran's conflict with the US, making the nuclear program a major tool to be used against the US, rather than a prize to be bargained away, writes Alireza Nader.
Apr 2, 2012 Al-Monitor
Many Iranians are increasingly concerned that the supreme leader is taking Iran down a dangerous path and is unwilling to turn back, whatever the pressures, writes Alireza Nader.
Feb 23, 2012 PBS FRONTLINE
The United States should not pursue sanctions with the intent of changing the regime, but to contain it in order to give Iranians a chance to effect change themselves, writes Alireza Nader.
Jan 26, 2012 ForeignPolicy.com
For all its bluster, the Iranian regime is more vulnerable than at any time in its 32-year history. Internally, Iran is constrained by deep political divisions, civil strife and a woeful economy, write Alireza Nader and James Dobbins.
Jan 6, 2012 NYTimes.com on January 5, 2012 and in International Herald Tribune
A typical Iranian has many reasons to disobey the government, whether he or she is young, an ethnic minority, a poor teacher or laborer, or a struggling student, writes Alireza Nader.
Sep 8, 2011 PBS FRONTLINE
Khamenei and Jafari are unlikely to allow the political faction loyal to Ahmadinejad to win elections for parliament in 2012 and the presidency in 2013, writes Alireza Nader.
Jul 11, 2011 PBS FRONTLINE
The Iranian regime faces immense internal and external pressures that are coming to the surface in surprising ways. Indeed, the relative calm prevailing now may be a sign of the great storm to come, writes Alireza Nader.
May 16, 2011 PBS FRONTLINE
The Iranian regime plans to replace nearly $100 billion of government subsidies on fuel, electricity, and food with more targeted assistance to needy Iranians. If successful, the overhaul would be a major and historic change, one designed to save the government money in the wake of international sanctions, writes Alireza Nader.
Jan 13, 2011 RAND.org and GlobalSecurity.org
Ahmadinejad, who has been opposed by the reformists and the pragmatic conservatives, is increasingly viewed as a divisive figure even within the principlist (fundamentalist) camp, writes Alireza Nader.
Nov 5, 2010 PBS.org and USIP
History shows that intervention is easier said than done. Past U.S. attempts to sway Iranian internal affairs have proven costly for U.S. interests. But between the extremes of doing nothing and doing everything, there is a middle ground, write Alireza Nader and Trita Parsi.
Feb 9, 2010 ForeignPolicy.com
Time is running out for the U.S. to persuade Iran to halt its nuclear program. As the potential for a diplomatic solution wanes, the administration must consider what steps might dissuade Tehran from continuing its nuclear program without punishing the Iranian people, writes Alireza Nader..
Dec 14, 2009 ForeignPolicy.com
The revelation of a secret nuclear facility near the holy city of Qom, and the likely existence of other advanced facilities across Iran, makes more urgent the need for a quick solution to the nuclear impasse, writes Alireza Nader.
Sep 30, 2009 RAND.org
Despite the huge protests on the streets of Tehran, Iranian President Ahmadinejad has once again triumphed. A relative newcomer to Iranian politics, Ahmadinejad's re-election and subsequent crackdown on the demonstrators suggest that the Iranian political system is moving in a new and potentially dangerous direction, writes Alireza Nader.
Jun 22, 2009 RAND.org
Iran's presidential race just got more interesting, with former Prime Minister Mousavi throwing his hat in the ring and former President Khatami withdrawing his. This development poses the most significant challenge yet to current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - and a potential opportunity to alter the relationship between Iran and the West, writes Alireza Nader.
Mar 24, 2009 Project Syndicate
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may lose the June 2009 presidential election. And a more pragmatic figure... may assume power. But no one, especially in the United States, should count on a dramatic change in Iran's policies, even if Ahmadinejad loses, writes Alireza Nader.
Dec 17, 2008 United Press International