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.

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

    Commentary

    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

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius talk after Hammond's statement about recent negotiations over Iran's nuclear program in London on March 21, 2015

    Commentary

    Grounds for Cautious Optimism on an Iran Nuclear Deal

    Sufficient information is available to be optimistic about the characteristics of the framework accord anticipated by the end of this month. Many Americans might be surprised to learn what has already been accomplished under the interim agreement that laid the groundwork for the comprehensive deal now being negotiated.

    Mar 26, 2015

  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Isaac Herzog of the Zionist Union, as campaign billboards rotate in Tel Aviv, March 9, 2015

    Commentary

    New Israeli Government, New Position on Iran?

    With elections taking place in Israel today, would a change of leadership lead to a fundamentally different Israeli stance on a nuclear deal? You'd think the answer was easy. But it's not.

    Mar 17, 2015

  • A military policeman looks through binoculars before the official groundbreaking ceremony of the site for the U.S. Aegis Ashore missile defense facility east of Bucharest, October 28, 2013

    Report

    Defending Against Iranian Missile Threats Without Diluting the Russian Deterrent

    In 2013, the U.S. opted to cancel Phase 4 of its European Phased Adaptive Approach missile defense system. Russia had cited it as a threat to its nuclear deterrent. The restructured U.S. system remains capable of reaching Iranian missiles without posing a threat to Russia's missile forces.

    Feb 13, 2015

  • Army and police officers loyal to the Iran-backed Houthi movement shout slogans as they take part in a demonstration to show support in Sanaa, January 23, 2015

    Commentary

    Relax, Iran Is Not Taking Over the Middle East

    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

  • Binary code with 'password' in red

    Commentary

    Cyberattacks Are a Nuisance, Not Terrorism

    The United States needs to consider both the risk of further attacks like the Sony breach and also further ill-considered reactions that may arise if the problem of insecurity in cyberspace is shoved into the counterterrorism paradigm.

    Feb 9, 2015

  • U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell welcomes newly elected Republican senators, November 12, 2014

    Report

    The Days After a Deal with Iran: Congress's Role in Implementing a Nuclear Agreement

    The president has extensive authority under the law to provide sanctions relief to Iran as part of a comprehensive nuclear agreement. Nevertheless, Congress can take a range of steps to facilitate, hinder, or even block the executive branch's efforts.

    Feb 2, 2015

  • A C-130H Hercules landing in its new home in Southwest Asia in September 2014

    Report

    The Role of the USAF in the Days After a Deal with Iran

    The U.S. will face a complex set of policy issues and trade-offs in the aftermath of a nuclear agreement with Iran. The U.S. Air Force should see itself as having a role in informing senior-level policy discussions as to how its military posture in the region could be designed in support of alternative U.S. policies toward Iran.

    Feb 2, 2015

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons at UN headquarters, April 27, 2015

    Report

    The Days After a Deal with Iran: Implications for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime

    A final nuclear deal with Iran would have implications for the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Slowing or stopping Iran's nuclear development is an important nonproliferation accomplishment, but the international community will need to find ways to mitigate some of the deal's negative consequences.

    Feb 2, 2015

  • Bashar al-Assad meeting with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran August 19, 2009

    Commentary

    Iran's Goals in Syria

    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

  • Iraqi security forces guard during the building of a new road between Diyala province and Samarra December 21, 2014. The Badr Organization, a leading political party and militia with ties to Iran, is supervising the new road.

    Commentary

    Salvaging Iraq

    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

  • Iran's President Hassan Rouhani during a news conference at the 69th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 26, 2014

    Commentary

    Congress Should Delay New Iran Sanctions

    The new Congress is racing to pass legislation that would institute new sanctions on Iran during ongoing nuclear negotiations. This undermines U.S. efforts to peacefully eliminate the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon.

    Jan 23, 2015

  • U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 20, 2015

    Blog

    State of the Union 2015: Clarion Calls on Terrorism, Cyber, Education, and More

    The agenda President Barack Obama outlined in his State of the Union address can perhaps best be characterized as broad, mirroring the range of diverse and emerging issues facing the U.S. in 2015.

    Jan 21, 2015

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif before a meeting in Vienna November 23, 2014

    Commentary

    An Iran Nuclear Deal Is Still Possible, and Here's Why

    The United States and other world powers returned to the negotiating table this week to try to finalize a nuclear agreement with Iran after announcing a seven-month extension in late November. How did the parties get this far?

    Dec 19, 2014

  • Congressional Briefing Podcast

    Multimedia

    Congressional Options and Their Likely Consequences for a Nuclear Deal with Iran

    In this December 2014 Congressional Briefing, Larry Hanauer identifies and assesses eight potential courses of action that Congress could take that might either facilitate, hinder, or block implementation of a nuclear deal with Iran.

    Dec 16, 2014

  • Multimedia

    Days After A Deal: Looking Forward

    In this video, RAND researchers Dalia Dassa Kaye, Jeffrey Martini, Alireza Nader, and Lynn Davis discuss how reaching a deal might change Iran's policies in the region and toward the United States, how Iran's neighbors would respond to a deal, and what effect a nuclear deal might have on U.S. policy in the region.

    Dec 15, 2014

  • Posters of a boy, killed in Shi'ite-Sunni violence, displayed on his grave in Sanaa, Yemen, November 17, 2014

    Commentary

    The Tortured Roots of Sectarian Violence

    The recent increase of sectarian terrorism is best understood as a product of the ancient Sunni-Shiite divide, the growth of modern-day extremist groups, the Iranian-Saudi rivalry, and the growing phenomenon of fractured states.

    Dec 12, 2014

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif addresses a news conference after a meeting in Vienna, November 24, 2014

    Commentary

    A Nuclear Extension Can Still Work, but Iran Must Show Flexibility

    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

  • Multimedia

    Iran Nuclear Negotiations Extended: Reactions and Implications

    RAND researchers Alireza Nader, Dalia Dassa Kaye, and Jeffrey Martini discuss November's extension to nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1. Moderated by Lynn Davis, director of RAND's Washington Office, these experts cover reactions from and implications for Iran, Israel, and the wider region

    Nov 25, 2014

  • Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei waves to the crowd in the holy city of Qom, October 2010

    Commentary

    Ignore Flap Over Obama Letter

    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

  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells the 69th U.N. General Assembly on September 29 that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a far greater threat to the world than Islamic State militants

    Commentary

    Not to Worry, Israel

    Some Israelis worry that America's fight against the Islamic State is distracting from the Iranian nuclear challenge. But the idea that the U.S. would make additional concessions to Iran in the nuclear negotiations because of the anti-Islamic State group effort is not based on realities on the ground.

    Oct 23, 2014