Iran

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More than 30 years after Iran's revolution, its political, military, and international activities continue to challenge and perplex its neighbors and many Western democracies. RAND research has informed and influenced U.S. policymakers on a range of topics, from engagement and containment and Tehran's ability to exploit pan-Islamic causes to Iran's ongoing development of nuclear capabilities.

  • U.S. President Trump just before signing a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement, May 8, 2018

    Commentary

    The Strategic Fallout of U.S. Withdrawal from the Iran Deal

    May 10, 2018

    President Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear agreement. What will happen next? Friction between the United States and its European allies will likely increase, while Iran moves closer to China and Russia. Also, the resentment of a new generation of Iranians toward America is likely to grow.

  • Project

    The RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy

    Jun 17, 2016

    The RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy (CMEPP) brings together analytic excellence and regional expertise from across the RAND Corporation to address the most critical political, social, and economic challenges facing the Middle East today.

Explore Iran

  • U.N. chemical weapons investigation team in Damascus

    Commentary

    US Should Keep Focus on Syria, Not Iran

    Those arguing for US-led airstrikes based on the premise of preventing a precedent with Iran would only make it easier for Iran and Syria to paint military action against the brutal Assad regime as an Israeli-inspired scheme rather than a regionally and internationally supported option, writes Dalia Dassa Kaye.

    Sep 6, 2013

  • The official photo of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

    Commentary

    Rowhani's Syria Dilemma

    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

  • News Release

    Rivalry, Cooperation Between Turkey and Iran Changing Along with the Middle East

    Economic cooperation between Turkey and Iran has increased over the past decade — mainly due to Iran's vast oil and natural gas reserves — but the degree of cooperation between the two nations should not be exaggerated.

    Aug 29, 2013

  • Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (right) talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (left) during their meeting in Tehran in 2009

    Report

    Rivalry, Cooperation Between Turkey and Iran Changing Along with the Middle East

    Economic cooperation between Turkey and Iran has increased over the past decade — mainly due to Iran's vast oil and natural gas reserves — but the degree of cooperation between the two nations should not be exaggerated.

    Aug 26, 2013

  • Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks during an event to mark Nawroz, the Persian New Year, in Kabul March 27, 2014

    Commentary

    A Last Chance for Iran's Pragmatists

    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

  • A 2009 rally in support of Mir Hussein Mousavi before he was put on house arrest.

    Commentary

    Will Iran's Opposition Leaders Be Released?

    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

  • U.S. helicopter squadron in the Persian Gulf launches an MK-105 Mod 4 Sled

    Commentary

    By Land and by Sea

    There are good reasons for the United States to rethink how it counterbalances Iran, reassures local allies, and projects power with fewer resources. However, tying down large numbers of fighter aircraft in the Gulf is likely only to exacerbate old problems and create new ones.

    Jul 22, 2013

  • Hassan Rouhani giving a speech

    Commentary

    Before Piling on New Sanctions, Give Rouhani a Chance

    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

  • Multimedia

    Arab Spring: The State of the Democratic Reform in the Middle East

    Jeffrey Martini, Senior Middle East Analyst at the RAND Corporation, discusses the political landscape of the Arab world and how the tumult in the region affects the interests of the United States.

    Jun 24, 2013

  • Hassan Rouhani's supporters, Valiasr street

    Commentary

    Rouhani: Rival Constituencies

    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

  • People voting in 2013 Iran's election

    Testimony

    Rouhani's Election: Regime Retrenchment in the Face of Pressure

    Iran's foreign policy may be ultimately controlled by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, and it will not change dramatically. But newly elected president Hassan Rouhani will nevertheless have an opportunity to reshape Iran's position on the nuclear program, as he will appoint Iran's nuclear negotiator and other key figures.

    Jun 18, 2013

  • Hassan Rouhani

    Commentary

    Rouhani's Win in Iran Could be Reason for Optimism

    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

  • Election 2005 candidates in a Tehran newspaper

    Blog

    In Iran, a New President, Same Leader

    The Iranian electorate goes to the polls to select a new president this weekend, but no matter who carries the vote Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will continue to call the shots in Tehran, say Alireza Nader and Dalia Dassa Kaye.

    Jun 12, 2013

  • identity checks in the 2009 Iranian election

    Blog

    Previewing the Iranian Election

    The Iranian regime seeks to produce a 2013 election that at least appears to be popular and legitimate; but more importantly, Khamenei desires a president who will act as his prime minister, rather than as an independent power.

    Jun 11, 2013

  • Supporters of reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, some wearing green, the color of the party, gather on the streets June 13, 2009, to protest the results of the Iranian presidential election in Tehran, Iran

    Report

    Iran's 2013 Presidential Election

    Iran's June 14, 2013 election will take place in the shadow of the turbulent 2009 presidential election, after which Iran witnessed the largest protests since the 1979 revolution. An analysis of the upcoming election considers Khamenei's objectives, the regime's electoral strategy, the competing factions and personalities, and the potential implications for the U.S., especially concerning Iran's nuclear program.

    Jun 5, 2013

  • Khamenei with Nasrallah

    Commentary

    The Supreme Leader's Revenge

    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

  • the Shrine of the Tomb of Imam Reza

    Commentary

    Think Again: A Nuclear Iran

    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

  • Iran's chief negotiator Saeed Jalili at a May 2013 news conference

    Report

    Iran After the Bomb: How Would a Nuclear-Armed Tehran Behave?

    Iran may feel more confident and gain a sense of prestige from a nuclear capability, but other factors, such as the regional geopolitical environment and Iran’s political, military, and economic capabilities, will have a greater bearing on Iranian calculations.

    May 17, 2013

  • Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) and First Vice President Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei attend a ceremony in Tehran July 22, 2009

    Commentary

    Will Iran's Real Reformists Please Stand Up?

    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

  • Door with poster of Ahmadinejad, Assad, and Nasrallah

    Commentary

    Why Iran Is Trying to Save the Syrian Regime

    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