Iran Insight

  • Europe’s Strategy to Save the Iran Deal

    The fate of the Iran nuclear agreement may rest on whether European governments are able to reach a side agreement with the Trump administration on issues that go beyond the provisions of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

    Iran’s increasingly sophisticated ballistic arsenal has become a major concern for its neighbors and the United States. The Trump Administration sees the missile program as a regional and global threat that was not adequately addressed by the JCPOA and has set up a working group with Britain, France and Germany to deal with missiles and other issues not covered by the nuclear deal.

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  • The Lion and the Dragon: Iran Looks to China for Trade and Development

    The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) last week entered its third year of implementation under a cloud of uncertainty from Washington. As President Trump threatens to withdraw from the deal absent major changes, Tehran increasingly views China as a reliable partner and model for economic development.

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  • Iran Looks East

    As implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) marks its second anniversary in a climate of uncertainty over continued US compliance, Iran has increasingly looked to Asia for trade and investment, while cementing a strategic partnership with Russia.

    On Friday, January 19, the Atlantic Council’s Future of Iran Initiative, in partnership with The Iran Project, hosted a half-day conference in Washington on these evolving relationships between Iran, Russia, China, India, and Japan.

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  • The Iran Deal Survives but Perhaps Not for Much Longer

    President Trump has agreed to waive nuclear-related sanctions against Iran again but has threatened to pull the plug in a few months if European countries don’t agree to renegotiate the landmark agreement.

    The decision to continue to waive sanctions, announced today, preserves the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) until the next deadline a few months from now but perhaps not much longer. A senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters “this is the last such waiver.” The US will work with Europe, he said, on a follow-on agreement that would renegotiate the terms of the accord so that its restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program would never expire.

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  • How #IranProtests Compare with the 2009 Green Movement

    The latest protests that shook Iran seemingly came out of nowhere. What surprised many is that the some 40,000 protesters didn’t come from the perennially disgruntled middle class but were Iranians who hadn’t taken to the streets en masse since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. They had—and have—very real grievances about the economy, rampant corruption and with the nature of the Islamic Republic itself.

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  • A Virtuous Rivalry Between Iran and Saudi Arabia?

    Much of the Middle East’s current dysfunction and bloodshed can be attributed to rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is bombing Yemen into smithereens to defeat Iran-backed Houthis, for example.

    But another more peaceful kind of competition could benefit both societies and have wider implications for the Muslim world at large.

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  • The Missing Table: Learning from Iran Negotiations to Solve North Korea

    “North Korea must earn its way back to the table. The pressure campaign must and will continue until denuclearization is achieved.”

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  • The Missing Table: Learning from Iran Negotiations to Solve North Korea

    “North Korea must earn its way back to the table. The pressure campaign must and will continue until denuclearization is achieved.”

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  • Gold Trader’s Sensational Case Pushes Iran and Turkey Closer

    Already-strained relations between Turkey and the US took a further negative turn on Nov. 30 when Reza Zarrab, a controversial Turkish-Iranian gold trader, told a New York court that Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan was personally involved in an international money-laundering scheme that allowed Iran to break US sanctions.


    Zarrab testified that starting in 2012 he helped Iran deposit funds from selling oil in Turkey’s state-owned Halkbank and two other banks and used the money to buy gold. The gold was then smuggled to Dubai and sold for cash. Zarrab was arrested in March 2016 in Miami while visiting the US with his family.

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  • Ahmadinejad is Up to His Old Tricks But They No Longer Impress Anyone

    The former president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is again in the forefront of Iranian social media.

    An egomaniac who cannot bare to fall out of media attention, Ahmadinejad has lately declared war on the Iranian judiciary, which has brought court cases against his top presidential aides, Esfandiyar Rahim Mashaei and Hamid Baghaei, on charges of corruption and misuse of public funds.

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