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.S. Capitol building with summer flowers

    Blog

    Summer Reading for Congress

    No matter how policymakers spend their break—meeting with home-state constituents, traveling abroad with congressional delegations, or spending time with family—this summer reading list contains policy ideas that can help them hit the ground running when they return.

    Jul 31, 2014

  • A demonstrator, her face painted in the colors of the Palestinian flag, outside the Israeli Embassy in London, July 26, 2014

    Commentary

    Gaza and the Nuclear Negotiations

    Whether a deal materializes that meets Iranian demands for a civilian nuclear program, but is limited enough to satisfy the U.S. and its partners remains to be seen. But the longer the Gaza conflict continues, the harder it'll be to insulate the negotiations from broader regional trends.

    Jul 28, 2014

  • Shi'ite volunteers, who've joined the Iraqi army against militants from the radical Islamic State, take part in weapons training, July 18, 2014

    Commentary

    Defeating the Islamic State: Crafting a Regional Approach

    While ISIL may achieve temporary tactical gains from declaring the caliphate, it made the strategic error of declaring all other Sunni political actors illegitimate. This may provide an opening to build a coalition that can create and implement a regional strategy to attack ISIL.

    Jul 22, 2014

  • Multimedia

    Media Conference Call on Iran's Nuclear Program — U.S. Policy Choices and the Challenges Ahead

    RAND international security experts Lynn E. Davis and Alireza Nader discussed the July 20 deadline for the P5+1 (United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France, Germany) to reach a deal with Iran on its nuclear program, and the policy choices confronting the United States should an agreement be reached.

    Jul 14, 2014

  • U.S. President Barack Obama announcing an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program, November 23, 2013

    Commentary

    How the United States Can Use Its Non-Military Power

    Because the United States has relied so heavily on force, we tend to equate it with power. Some results can only be achieved through force, but coercion can be an effective substitute. A superpower, by definition, has many options to have its way without always needing to send troops into battle—a smart superpower will use those options.

    Jul 10, 2014

  • Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks live on television after casting his ballot in the Iranian presidential election in Tehran June 12, 2009

    Commentary

    Can U.S. and Iran Work Together in Iraq?

    The presence of Iranian and American troops in Iraq may necessitate clear and direct communications between the two sides, at least to prevent misunderstanding and greater chaos. But Washington should tread carefully and focus on nuclear negotiations for now.

    Jul 3, 2014

  • Members of Iran's Basij militia march during a parade to commemorate the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war, September 22, 2010

    Commentary

    The Fallacy of Iranian Leverage

    Rather than helping Iran in the nuclear negotiations, Iran's battle against the ISIS could actually hurt it. The broader strategic dynamics were already working against Iran, and the situation in Iraq has only made that more true.

    Jun 27, 2014

  • News Release

    Iran's Interests in Afghanistan Provide Opportunities for Cooperation with United States

    Although relations between Iran and the U.S. have been strained, both countries have similar goals in wanting to see a stable Afghanistan free of Taliban control. In the event of a nuclear deal, Iran and the U.S. can work together in countering narcotics trafficking in Afghanistan and resolve water disputes between the neighboring nations.

    Jun 19, 2014

  • Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai and Iran's President Hassan Rouhani

    Report

    Iran's Interests in Afghanistan Provide Opportunities for Cooperation with United States

    Iran and U.S. relations have been strained but both countries want to see a stable Afghanistan free of Taliban control. In the event of a nuclear deal, Iran and the U.S. can work together to counter narcotics trafficking and resolve water disputes between the neighboring nations.

    Jun 19, 2014

  • 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