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.

  • Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, June 25, 2020, photo by Mark Makela/Reuters

    Commentary

    Why Biden Can't Turn Back the Clock on the Iran Nuclear Deal

    Mar 1, 2021

    Enacted in 2016, the Iran nuclear deal was predicated on a geopolitical context that no longer exists. Addressing Iran's nuclear program today may require a different solution.

  • A view from space of the Middle East, West Asia, and East Europe at night, photo by wael alreweie/Getty Images

    Report

    Reimagining U.S. Strategy in the Middle East

    Feb 23, 2021

    Long-standing U.S. policies in the Middle East that rely on defeating threats and keeping partners on “our side” have fallen short. What if the U.S. approach shifted from focusing on the threat of the day to a positive vision of a region supported by increased diplomatic and economic investments?

Explore Iran

  • Volunteers, who have joined Iraqi security forces to fight against militants from the radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), gather in Najaf, June 18, 2014

    Commentary

    Iraq Observations

    Will the Obama administration be blamed for losing Iraq if it does not order military intervention? Or will history judge the president wise for keeping U.S. forces out of war? As Americans debate assisting Iraq, including the possibility of military intervention, here are 10 things to keep in mind.

    Jun 19, 2014

  • An Iranian flag flutters in front of the UN headquarters in Vienna June 17, 2014 as six world powers and Iran began their fifth round of nuclear negotiations

    Report

    The Days After a Deal with Iran

    An analysis of the possible effects on Iranian foreign policy stemming from a final nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 details Rouhani's likely hopes for a post-deal foreign policy, the domestic constraints on his goals, and how a final deal might affect Iran's relations with Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, and the U.S.

    Jun 10, 2014

  • Iran's President Hassan Rouhani arrives at a news conference

    Report

    The Days After a Deal with Iran: U.S. Policies of Hedging and Engaging

    Is the emerging consensus on a set of policies toward Iran and U.S. regional partners the best approach? Or might these policies eliminate opportunities for the United States to alter the U.S.-Iran relationship — and potentially undercut support in Iran for the agreement?

    Jun 10, 2014

  • Congressional Briefing Podcast

    Multimedia

    Israeli, Saudi, and Iranian Responses in the Days After a Deal With Iran: What Are the U.S. Options?

    In this June 2014 Congressional Briefing, a panel of Middle East experts discuss concerns about Iran of two key U.S. partners; the internal dynamics and motivations of the Iranian government; and U.S. policy options to craft a sustainable nuclear agreement with Iran.

    Jun 4, 2014

  • Iran's President Hassan Rouhani attends a news conference after the fourth Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) summit, in Shanghai May 22, 2014

    Commentary

    Let's Make a Deal: Iran Edition

    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

  • European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wait for the start of talks in Vienna April 9, 2014

    Commentary

    Too Important to Fail

    Preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state would contribute to global security, and especially to the security and stability of the Middle East, but these are not the only considerations at hand.

    Apr 18, 2014

  • Multimedia

    The Days After a Deal: Iran, Its Neighbors, and U.S. Policy Following a Nuclear Agreement

    On April 3, 2014, the RAND Corporation held a half-day conference in its Washington office addressing "The Days After a Deal: Iran, its Neighbors, and U.S. Policy Following a Nuclear Agreement." As nuclear negotiations with Iran approach a deadline for a final deal this summer, the RAND conference looked ahead at some of the critical "day after" questions following a potential nuclear agreement.

    Apr 17, 2014

  • European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrive for a news conference after talks in Vienna April 9, 2014, photo by Reuters/Heinz-Peter Bader

    Report

    The Days After a Deal with Iran

    What might the Middle East and U.S. policy look like in the days after a deal with Iran? Experts posit that a final nuclear agreement is reached with Iran and then examine the potential responses of two U.S. partners in the region: Israel and Saudi Arabia.

    Apr 17, 2014

  • General David Petraeus, Stephen Hadley, and David Ignatius

    Blog

    RAND Conference: Iran in the Days After a Nuclear Deal

    Expressing optimism that a deal to end Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons could succeed, experts said during a panel discussion at RAND that such an agreement could open the door to a new era for Iran, free of international sanctions but still cautious of relations with the U.S.

    Apr 3, 2014

  • Syrian refugees wave flags during a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad

    Multimedia

    Navigating Turmoil in the Middle East

    Listen in on this joint RAND-Wilson Center panel discussion on new and ongoing U.S. foreign policy challenges in the Middle East.

    Mar 18, 2014

  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, displaying on Monday what Israel said were seized Iranian-supplied missiles bound for militants in Gaza. He called on the West not to be fooled by Tehran's diplomatic outreach over its nuclear program.

    Commentary

    Iran Deal: Will Israel Play Spoiler?

    Israel will not embrace an agreement that is likely to leave in place some limited Iranian nuclear enrichment and infrastructure, but it nonetheless will not likely derail a deal with actions like a military strike.

    Mar 12, 2014

  • Iran's President Hassan Rouhani smiles during a session at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum

    Commentary

    Can Rouhani Break Through?

    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

  • Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House John Boehner applaud as President Barack Obama finishes his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 28, 2014

    Blog

    State of the Union 2014: President Obama Calls for a Year of Action

    Obama called for “a year of action” to achieve his 2014 agenda — from helping people sign up for health insurance, to immigration reform, to completing the mission in Afghanistan. RAND is committed to raising the level of public policy debates and offering evidence-based, actionable solutions.

    Jan 29, 2014

  • The site of a car bomb attack in Baghdad

    Commentary

    Iraq's Turmoil Highlights Extent and Limits of Iran's Influence

    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

  • Congressional Briefing Podcast

    Multimedia

    Making Sense of Nuclear Negotiations with Iran: A Good Deal or a Bad Deal?

    In this January 2014 Congressional Briefing, a panel of experts discusses the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 that have resulted in a first-step agreement of a possible comprehensive deal on the Iranian nuclear program.

    Jan 22, 2014

  • Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, President Hassan Rouhani, and Mohammad Nahavandian at the World Economic Forum

    Commentary

    Why New Sanctions on Iran Won't Work

    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 22, 2014

  • Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency Reza Najafi attends a news conference in Vienna

    Commentary

    A 'Nixon to China' Moment with Iran?

    The current negotiations with Iran designed to eliminate its nuclear weapons capability seem to lack a broader strategic objective: stabilizing the Middle East with a regional balance of power. What does the China experience tell us about prospects for a strategic breakthrough with Iran?

    Dec 24, 2013

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sits between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius at the United Nations Headquarters after the P5+1 member nations concluded a nuclear deal with Iran in Geneva, Switzerland, on November 24, 2013.

    Commentary

    A First Step in Geneva

    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

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem November 6, 2013

    Commentary

    Playing Good Cop, Bad Cop with Iran

    On the one hand, U.S. negotiators must convince their Iranian counterparts that the United States is serious about offering genuine sanctions relief in return for Tehran making concessions on its nuclear ambitions. On the other hand, the negotiating team must also assuage the concerns of allies and members of Congress.

    Nov 22, 2013

  • Nuclear talks at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva November 20, 2013

    Commentary

    We're Close to a Good Deal with Iran. Why Sabotage It?

    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