After over thirty years of relative isolation and intensifying sanctions, Iran is entering a new phase in its international relations with uncertain consequences for the Middle East and beyond. The possibility of sanctions relief presents Iran with the opportunity to re-calculate its policy choices—whether toward collaboration with its neighbors and the world community or toward greater provocation and aggression.

The United States and the international community must understand the drivers of Iranian decision-making in order to encourage-age Iran’s constructive global reintegration, while at the same time effectively discouraging and responding effectively to aggressive behavior. Time is of the essence: The 2016 US presidential campaign offers a rare opportunity for a sustained public debate on America’s role in shaping Iran’s future.


Effective implementation of the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA) is the necessary first step in promoting the region’s long-term stability. However, the diverging interests of the US, European countries, Russia, and Arab states, means the plan’s success is far from guaranteed. Sustained resolve is critical to ensure that Iran honors its JCPOA commitments, or, if necessary, to confront a potentially revisionist Iran and hold it accountable to international norms.

The Atlantic Council Iran Initiative aims to galvanize the international community – led by the United States with its global allies and partners – to increase the JCPOA’s chances of success and build on its model for conflict resolution. The Initiative also seeks to promote a deeper understanding of Iran to inform US policymakers as they formulate new approaches to the Islamic Republic.

The Initiative will provide a political safe space and a rigorously analytical point of departure in which both the most skeptical critics and the most optimistic assessors of Iran’s intentions and ambitions can work together to build a bipartisan consensus within the US and a path forward in strengthening regional and global security and prosperity.

The work of the Initiative will center around six major pillars:

US-Iran Relations

Iranian Political and Cultural Dynamics

Iranian Military and Cyber Capabilities

Iranian Relations With Its Neighbors

Implications of the Deal for the Non Proliferation Regime

Iranian Energy & Economic Dynamics after Lifted Sanctions

Advisory Board


Stuart Eizenstat


Cornelius Adebahr

Odeh Aburene

Gen. James Cartwright

Joseph Cirincione

Ilan Goldenberg

Amir Handjani

John Limbert

Trita Parsi

Tom Pickering

Richard Sawaya

Greg Thielmann

Harlan Ullman