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.

  • The Iranian flag flutters in front the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria, March 4, 2019, photo by Leonhard Foeger/Reuters


    A Post-2020 U.S. Return to the Iran Nuclear Deal?

    Jun 20, 2019

    Now that the United States is out of the Iran nuclear deal, signing back on will not be as simple or as practical as some may hope. Too much has happened since it was first inked in 2015. With the political landscape in Tehran and Washington still taking shape, those who want to return to some kind of deal should start planning.

  • 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

  • Iranians supporting Mousavi in Azadi Square


    Why Washington Should Leave Regime Change to the Iranians

    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

  • U.S. Marines assigned to Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team


    An Assessment of the Current Terrorist Threat: A Resurgence of Iranian-Sponsored Terrorism

    The future threat posed by Iranian-sponsored terrorism will be contingent upon Iran's calculations of risk. The current shadow war could escalate further if Iran thinks military attack by either Israel or the United States is inevitable and imminent or, obviously, if hostilities begin.

    Jul 23, 2012

  • Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shakes hands with Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul May 9, 2011


    The Turkish-Iranian Alliance That Wasn't

    As pressures for greater democracy in the Middle East have intensified, Turkey and Iran have clashed more openly and each side has sought to expand its influence at the expense of the other, writes F. Stephen Larrabee.

    Jul 12, 2012

  • An oil barrel


    Assessing the Iranian Sanctions

    The sanctions have imposed economic costs and have effectively signaled that not only the United States, but much of the rest of the world, see Iran's policies on nuclear enrichment as a serious potential threat to the region and the world, writes Keith Crane.

    Jul 9, 2012

  • Russian (L and R) and Iranian operators monitor the nuclear power plant unit in Bushehr, about 1,215 km (755 miles) south of Tehran, November 30, 2009


    Defusing Iran's Nuclear Threat

    As nuclear negotiations with Iran resume, they might produce an agreement on interim steps to limit Iranian enrichment and a temporary hold on some international sanctions.

    Jun 14, 2012

  • Iran's chief negotiator Saeed Jalili addresses a news conference after a meeting in Baghdad, May 24, 2012


    Iran's Buying Time—and That's Fine

    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

  • Fabric flags of China and Iran


    Examining the Relationship Between China and Iran

    The partnership between China and Iran presents challenges to U.S. interests, including dissuading Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability.

    May 3, 2012

  • EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iran's chief negotiator Saeed Jalili attend a meeting in Istanbul, April 14, 2012


    Iran's Calculations in New Diplomatic Talks

    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

  • Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei prays during Friday prayers in Tehran, September 19, 2008


    Will Khamenei Compromise?

    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

  • Report

    Book by Noted Expert Proposes a Renaissance of Thought on Nuclear Deterrence for Today's Strategic Environment

    A new book by the late French scholar Thérèse Delpech provides a critical review and update of nuclear deterrence theory, focusing a critical eye on nuclear issues during the Cold War, examining the lessons of past nuclear crises, and outlining ways in which these lessons apply to major nuclear powers and nuclear pretenders today.

    Mar 27, 2012

  • Announcement

    Alireza Nader Addresses Iran Panel

    On March 19, RAND senior international policy analyst Alireza Nader took part in the Atlantic Council's "Iran's Internal Politics" briefing. Nader and his fellow panelists, moderated by Barbara Slavin, discussed the political landscape in Iran today in light of the March 2 elections.

    Mar 20, 2012

  • U.S. President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with American Israel Public Affairs Committee President Lee Rosenberg before he delivers remarks to AIPAC's annual policy conference in Washington, March 4, 2012


    U.S. and Israel Need to Agree on Strike Against Iran

    Essential to any Israeli government decision to bomb Iran is confidence that whatever advice Washington might provide before the attack, the U.S. administration will feel bound to help Israel cope with the consequences of its action, writes James Dobbins.

    Mar 5, 2012

  • An Iranian worker rests in front of a huge portrait of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on a wall near a university during Friday prayers in Tehran, February 24, 2012


    Khamenei: The Nuclear Decision-maker

    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

  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a Likud party meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem, February 13, 2012


    Israel's Risky Option on Iran

    While a nuclear-armed Iran that hasn't been attacked is dangerous, one that has been attacked may be much more likely to brandish its capabilities, to make sure it does not face an attack again, writes Dalia Dassa Kaye.

    Feb 21, 2012

  • A street in Qom, Iran


    Al Qaeda in Iran

    Iran is in many ways a safer territory from which al Qaeda can operate. The United States has targeted al Qaeda in Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and other countries, but it has limited operational reach in Iran, writes Seth G. Jones.

    Jan 29, 2012

  • Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad exits a plane as he arrives in Kerman province, southeast of Iran, January 26, 2012


    Is Regime Change in Iran the Only Solution?

    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

  • A policeman walks past the car belonging to Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan at a blast site in Tehran, January 11, 2012


    Do Israelis Really Want to Bomb Iran?

    Much has been made over differences between the U.S. and Israeli threat perceptions of Iran, but in fact internal Israeli divisions suggest that the gap may not be as great as some suggest, writes Dalia Dassa Kaye.

    Jan 12, 2012

  • Iran's Navy commander Habibollah Sayyari points from a naval ship during Velayat-90 war game on Sea of Oman near the Strait of Hormuz, Iran, January 1, 2012


    Iran's Self-Destructive Gamble

    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

  • Report

    Growing Rivalry Between Israel and Iran Poses Danger of Military Conflict

    The United States should engage in activities that increase understanding about how a deterrence relationship between Israel and Iran may evolve, and encourage direct communication between Israelis and Iranians through informal diplomatic channels.

    Jan 4, 2012

  • News Release

    Growing Rivalry Between Israel and Iran Poses Danger of Military Conflict

    The United States should engage in activities that increase understanding about how a deterrence relationship between Israel and Iran may evolve, and encourage direct communication between Israelis and Iranians through informal diplomatic channels.

    Jan 4, 2012