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

  • Iraqi demonstrators carry pictures of people who were killed during ongoing anti-government protests in Nassiriya, Iraq, December 4, 2019, photo by Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters

    Commentary

    Iraq at the Crossroads

    The protests gripping Iraq pose an extraordinary challenge to Baghdad's political leadership, which must move the country ahead or step aside. Unless it finds the will to compromise for the common good, the governing class could risk thrusting the country into civil war.

    Dec 18, 2019

  • Blog

    How Americans Get the News, Iran, Caregiving: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how Americans consume the news, U.S.–Iranian relations, how federal disability payments help caregivers, and more.

    Dec 13, 2019

  • Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif arrives for a meeting among remaining parties to the Iran nuclear deal at U.N. headquarters in New York City, September 25, 2019, photo by Yana Paskova/Reuters

    Commentary

    Understanding Iran's Nuclear Escalation Strategy

    Throughout 2019, Iran has gradually reduced its compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. What are its goals in doing this? Why has it adopted this strategy? And perhaps most importantly, how far does Iran intend to go?

    Dec 12, 2019

  • People walk near a burned bank, after protests against increased fuel prices, in Tehran, Iran, November 20, 2019, photo by Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Reuters

    Commentary

    Don't Expect a Thaw in Iran

    Iran's recent protests could mark the beginning of a new chapter in Iran's domestic politics. Whatever happens inside the country, though, it will not likely change Iran's foreign policy.

    Dec 11, 2019

  • Blog

    Hong Kong, Reducing Crime, Medical Marijuana: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on what the U.S. can do about Hong Kong, reducing crime in Chicago, medical marijuana, and more.

    Dec 6, 2019

  • Iranians protest against increased gas prices, on a highway in Tehran, November 16, 2019, photo by Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Reuters

    Commentary

    With Chaos in the Streets of Iran, Here's How the United States Could Help the Iranian People

    The Iranian people deserve American support. But current U.S. policies are hurting the cause that Iranians are fighting for while failing to achieve any strategic objectives.

    Dec 3, 2019

  • Blog

    Medicare, Climate Change, 'Superbugs': RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on opening Medicare to Americans at age 50, how to assess climate change plans, antibiotic-resistant "superbugs," and more.

    Nov 22, 2019

  • A demonstrator reacts as he walks in front of Iraqi security forces during ongoing anti-government protests in Baghdad, November 14, 2019, photo by Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters

    Commentary

    Don't Overestimate the Power of Iraqi Protests

    As protests in Iraq grow, a “good news” narrative seems to be developing that they are a significant blow to Iranian influence. But the bigger story is not who is up and who is down between Washington and Tehran; it is that yet another Arab public has taken to the streets demanding change.

    Nov 14, 2019

  • Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech during a ceremony marking the death anniversary of the founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in Tehran, Iran, June 4, 2017, photo by TIMA/Reuters

    Commentary

    Iran, the Unitary State

    Current and future U.S. policy toward Iran must begin with the premise that the Islamic Republic is the sum of its parts and that to try to empower moderates or disempower hard-liners is naive. Rather, Washington should strive to deal with Iran as it is, not as Washington wishes it were.

    Oct 18, 2019

  • Supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah wave Hezbollah and Lebanese flags at a rally marking the 10th anniversary of the end of Hezbollah's 2006 war with Israel, in Bint Jbeil, Lebanon August 13, 2016, photo by AZIZ TAHER/Reuters

    Commentary

    Iran's Proxies Are More Powerful Than Ever

    The Trump administration has pursued a so-called maximum pressure strategy designed to alter the course of Iran's foreign and security policies, which relies heavily on sanctions to change Iranian behavior. Financial sanctions are an important part of any counterterrorism strategy. But they aren't enough.

    Oct 16, 2019

  • Blog

    Virtual Societal Warfare, Iran, Opioids: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the risk of virtual societal welfare, Iran's domestic debates, federal policy options for supervised consumption sites, and more.

    Oct 11, 2019

  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech during the ceremony of the National Army Day parade in Tehran, Iran, September 22, 2019, photo by West Asia News Agency via Reuters

    Report

    Why Iran's Domestic Debates Should Matter to the United States

    Iran's internal debates play a critical role in framing, molding, and selling foreign and security policies. Understanding areas of both consensus and division among Iranian elites is key to developing a realistic policy on Iran and ensuring successful engagement in any future negotiations.

    Oct 9, 2019

  • World map in red pixels on a dark background, photo by Lidiia Moor/Getty Images

    Report

    Are States Using Cyber Operations to Coerce Others?

    Cyber operations have become another tool of statecraft. But have any cyber operations sponsored by Russia, China, Iran, or North Korea met the definition of cyber coercion? If so, how? And what should the United States do to respond?

    Sep 17, 2019

  • An Israeli soldier stands guard under an Israeli national flag in the Jordan Valley near the Jewish settlement of Maale Efrayim, January 2, 2014, photo by Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

    Commentary

    Israel’s War with Iran May Be Going Too Far

    Israel has a right to defend itself from Iranian threats to its country. American leaders should consider balancing support for Israel's efforts to counter Iran with firm redlines about activities negatively impacting American interests.

    Sep 16, 2019

  • A member of Iran's Revolutionary guards sits in front of a picture of a soldier at a war exhibition to commemorate the anniversary of Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), in southern Tehran, September 26, 2007, photo by Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters

    Commentary

    Syria Changed the Iranian Way of War

    To get a sense of the playbook that Tehran might consult in any future conflict with the United States, Washington should pay close attention to what the Iranians have learned in Syria.

    Aug 16, 2019

  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a working lunch at the Group of 20 (G-20) summit in Osaka, Japan, on Friday, June 28, 2019, photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Reuters

    Commentary

    Japan's Hormuz Dilemma

    Japan is a staunch U.S. ally in the Indo-Pacific. But any decision to support a coalition against Iran in the Middle East is likely to put Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a tough position.

    Aug 16, 2019

  • Blog

    Inmate Suicides, India and Kashmir, Health Care: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap looks at preventing inmate suicides, India and Kashmir, improving health care for veterans, and more.

    Aug 16, 2019

  • Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during a news conference in Tehran, Iran, August 5, 2019, photo by Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA/Reuters

    Commentary

    Iran's Cooperation with the Taliban Could Affect Talks on U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan

    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has acknowledged that his country has some level of cooperation with the Taliban. How did Iran's relationship with the Taliban come about? And how might it affect the future of U.S.-Taliban talks?

    Aug 9, 2019

  • Blog

    DMZ Meeting, Students with Disabilities, Iran: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on Trump's meeting with Kim Jong Un, supporting students with disabilities, the flawed logic of a proportional response in Iran, and more.

    Jul 5, 2019

  • The purported wreckage of an American drone is seen displayed by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in Tehran, Iran, June 21, 2019, photo by Meghdad Madadi/Tasnim News Agency via Reuters

    Commentary

    The Flawed Logic of Proportionality

    President Trump halted a retaliatory strike against Iran on the basis that it would have claimed many Iranian lives and was not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone. There are many good reasons to avoid attacking Iran, but if Washington must resort to force in the future, it should avoid the flawed logic of proportionality.

    Jul 1, 2019