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.

Featured commentary & analysis

Featured in-depth research & reports


Past events

Mon, Jul 15, 2019

After Sistani and Khamenei: Looming successions will shape the Middle East

At a time of rising tensions between the United States and Iran, Iran and the wider Shia world are facing important successions for leadership that will impact a number of issues. These include how independent Iraq will be of foreign influence, whether Iran finally succeeds in exporting its unique system of government, whether Iran continues […]


Wed, Mar 27, 2019

Environmental security in the Middle East

The Middle East region faces a laundry list of challenges, from civil strife and poor governance to regional rivalries and economic stagnation. Exacerbating these challenges are growing threats from environmental degradation, water shortages and climate change. As temperatures and populations rise, water resources become even more limited. Climate change is expected to make some areas […]


Tue, Feb 12, 2019

Iran’s revolution turns forty

On February, 11, 2019, the Islamic Republic of Iran marked the 40th anniversary of the overthrow of its pro-Western monarch, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, after a popular revolution. During the past four decades, Iran has faced a variety of pressures, both internal and external, and will be marking this anniversary in an atmosphere of renewed […]

10:00am Washington

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Thu, Sep 5, 2019

Fighting corruption or just more political infighting in Iran?

A new crackdown on corruption in the Islamic Republic is roiling the country’s political elite and could have implications for the succession to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

IranSource by Tahereh Hadian-Jazy


Tue, Sep 3, 2019

Iran counters ‘Maximum Pressure’ by reaching out to the Kurds

Sensing the immense geopolitical challenges Iran is facing, these Kurdish groups—which seek autonomy through armed struggle—might be testing the waters amid mounting regional pressure on Tehran.

IranSource by Tamer Badawi

Crisis Management Iran

Fri, Aug 30, 2019

Iran issues rare criticism of India over Kashmir

In the past, Tehran has been careful to avoid antagonizing the government in New Delhi and has sought instead to bolster Iran-India ties and to balance Iran’s relations with India and Pakistan.

IranSource by Fatemeh Aman

India Iran

Tue, Aug 27, 2019

It’s time to admit that we don’t understand Iran’s economy

The United States is pursuing an “economic war” on the basis of a very crude understanding of Iran’s economy. Should the goal of its sanctions policy be havoc, such an understanding will suffice.

IranSource by Esfandyar Batmanghelidj

Economic Sanctions Iran