About the program

The US-Iranian relationship has experienced significant challenges over the past forty years. The lack of diplomatic relations, changes in both the US and Iranian administrations, repeated US military interventions in the region as well as Iran’s support for militant groups and increasingly harsh rhetoric on both sides have further undermined chances for reconciliation. Through a balanced approach of engagement and containment, there is a need to push back against Iranian intervention while promoting US interests, regional conflict resolution, and the well-being of the Iranian people.

The Atlantic Council Iran Program convenes experts, policy makers, activists and other key stakeholders to discuss US policy toward Iran and Iran’s policies toward the US. We provide pragmatic recommendations for a more constructive US-Iran relationship that addresses the current security challenges facing the US and its allies and the security and socio-economic challenges facing Iran. We aim to preserve channels to Iranian officials and civil society through Track II dialogues and to engage Europeans officials and analysts on ways to maintain open channels of communication.


Past events

Tue, Aug 17, 2021

Karun: The tragedy of Iran’s longest river

Online Event “Karun,” an award-winning documentary by filmmaker Mohammad Ehsani traces the path and environs of the Karun River, Iran’s longest waterway, which used to be an important source for agriculture and drinking water in Khuzestan.

12:00pm Climate Change & Climate Action Energy & Environment Iran Middle East

Mon, Jun 21, 2021

What Iran’s election results portend

Online Event Following the June 18 presidential elections in Iran, a panel of experts discuss the political landscape and the ballot’s regional and international implications.

12:00pm ONLINE EVENT Elections Iran Middle East Politics & Diplomacy

Thu, Apr 29, 2021

From the courts to the streets: Iranian women changemakers on the struggle for equality

Online Event The Atlantic Council’s Future of Iran Initiative hosts a discussion surrounding the upcoming paper, Iranian Women in the Year 1400: The Struggle for Equal Rights Continues.

12:00pm Iran Middle East Resilience Resilience & Society

Tue, Mar 9, 2021

Iran faces old challenges in a new century

Online Event March 21 – Nowruz – marks the beginning of a new century for Iranians who count their years according to the solar calendar. A discussion of the similarities and differences between the Iran of today and a century ago, and takeaways for the century ahead.

12:00pm Iran Middle East Politics & Diplomacy Resilience & Society

Wed, Feb 24, 2021

Iranian public opinion in the Biden era

Online Event A discussion surrounding the polling data on Iranian public opinion by the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland.

1:30pm Economy & Business Iran Middle East Politics & Diplomacy

Thu, Jan 28, 2021

The complexities of unraveling US sanctions and returning to the JCPOA

Online Event A new paper written by Brian O’Toole, discusses the complexities of sanctions relief in particular and the prospects for US diplomacy with Iran under the Biden administration.

12:00pm Arms Control Economic Sanctions Economy & Business Iran

Wed, Nov 18, 2020

Renewing transatlantic strategy on Iran

Online Event A new report by Ellie Geranmayeh, Barbara Slavin, and Sahil Shah presents a series of recommendations for the E-3 and the European Union to preserve the JCPOA, promote regional peace and development and boost people-to-people contacts with Iran in concert with a potential new US administration.

9:30am Economy & Business Iran Middle East Politics & Diplomacy

Mon, Aug 31, 2020

‘Desert One’: How the Hostage Crisis and failed rescue raid still cloud US-Iran relations

Public Event ONLINE EVENT – Panel discussion of the new documentary ‘Desert One’. Directed by master documentarian Barbara Kopple, with new archival sources and unprecedented access to key players on both sides, the film reveals the true story behind one of the most daring rescues in modern US history: a secret mission to free hostages captured during the 1979 Iranian revolution.

12:00pm ONLINE EVENT Conflict Iran Middle East Politics & Diplomacy

Fri, Jun 26, 2020

Iran’s economy under COVID-19 and sanctions: How bad is it?

Public Event ONLINE EVENT – Under the strain of economic sanctions, an embargo on the export of oil, and the impact of COVID-19, the Islamic Republic faces some of its biggest economic challenges in decades.

9:30am ONLINE EVENT Coronavirus Economic Sanctions Economy & Business Iran

Wed, May 20, 2020

Will COVID-19 exacerbate or defuse conflicts in the Middle East?

Public Event ONLINE EVENT – The reshuffling of priorities needed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic has cast new light on long-running conflicts, particularly in the Middle East. United Nations Under-Secretary General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo discusses potential new openings to advance peace in the region.

10:00am ONLINE EVENT Middle East Politics & Diplomacy Resilience & Society Security & Defense

Wed, Feb 12, 2020

Iran: Propaganda and perception 41 years after the revolution

Public Event Half-day conference with keynote remarks and two discussion sessions on Iran’s digital influence efforts and foreign coverage of Iran.

9:30am Washington DC Cybersecurity Disinformation Iran Media

Thu, Jan 9, 2020

US-Iran tensions rising with Iraq in the middle

Public Event The Atlantic Council’s Iraq Initiative and Future of Iran Initiative hosted a conversation on US-Iran tensions and the impact on Iraq with Congressman Seth Moulton and Senator Chris Murphy.

2:00pm Washington Conflict Economic Sanctions Iran Iraq

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Thu, Sep 16, 2021

Iran’s environmental woes could be Raisi’s Achilles heel

Among the challenges encountered by the Islamic Republic of Iran, climate change looms as one of the most serious, disrupting, and even life-threatening issues facing both rural and urban populations. This threat has worsened at a time when Iran is politically polarized, ideologically fractured, and economically embattled.  

IranSource by Javad Heiran-Nia and Mahmood Monshipouri

Energy & Environment Iran

Wed, Sep 8, 2021

Iran’s new president has blood on his hands

Iran’s new President, Ebrahim Raisi, played a key role in the execution of some 5,000 political prisoners and was part of the “Death Commission” responsible for the 1988 massacre.

IranSource by Nasser Mohajer and Kaveh Yazdani

Human Rights Iran

Wed, Sep 1, 2021

An escalating Israel-Iran conflict could sink the JCPOA

Rising tensions between Israel and Iran have reached an alarming stage in recent weeks. What used to be a shadow war of covert operations, sabotage, and proxy conflict is turning into a more direct military confrontation between the long-time regional adversaries.

IranSource by Sina Azodi and Mohsen Solhdoost

Iran Israel

Tue, Aug 24, 2021

Iran’s new face to the world—Hossein Amir-Abdollahian—is no Zarif

In short, unlike his predecessor who was distrusted and often marginalized by the IRGC, one should expect more collaboration between what Zarif dubbed “diplomacy and the battlefield.”

IranSource by Sina Azodi

Iran Middle East