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  • Author: Cornelius Adebahr
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The rift between Europe and the United States over Iran is deepening. To regain leverage, the Europeans should engage all eight Gulf states in talks about regional security and nonproliferation. The rift between Europe and the United States over Iran is deepening. Two years of U.S. maximum pressure on Tehran have not yielded the results Washington had hoped for, while the Europeans have failed to put up enough resistance for their transatlantic partner to change course. Worse, the U.S. policy threatens to destabilize the broader Persian Gulf, with direct consequences for Europe. To get ahead of the curve and regain leverage, the European Union (EU), its member states, and the United Kingdom have to look beyond their relations with the Islamic Republic and address wider regional security challenges. The United States’ incipient retreat as a security guarantor and Russia’s increased interest in the region make it necessary for Europe to engage beyond its borders. Despite being barely alive, the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran offers a good starting point. The Europeans should regionalize some of the agreement’s basic provisions to include the nuclear newcomers on the Arab side of the Gulf. Doing so would advance a nonproliferation agenda that is aimed not at a single country but at the region’s broader interests. Similarly, the Europeans should engage Iran, Iraq, and the six Arab nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council in talks about regional security. Rather than suggesting an all-encompassing security framework, for which the time is not yet ripe, they should pursue a step-by-step approach aimed at codifying internationally recognized principles at the regional level.
  • Topic: Security, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Nonproliferation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Pierre Goldschmidt
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Nonproliferation Policy Education Center
  • Abstract: Since it came into force in 1970, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) has worked remarkably well to prevent the horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons. The one major exception is North Korea, which withdrew from the NPT in 2003. Despite this track record of success, the stability of the current non-proliferation regime could be significantly undermined by further withdrawals by countries such as Iran. The right of states to withdraw from the NPT is clearly stated in the Treaty. Article X.1 provides that: “Each Party shall in exercising its national sovereignty have the right to withdraw from the Treaty if it decides that extraordinary events, related to the subject matter of this Treaty, have jeopardized the supreme interests of its country. It shall give notice of such withdrawal to all other parties to the Treaty and to the United Nations Security Council three months in advance. Such notice shall include a statement of the extraordinary events it regards as having jeopardized its supreme interests.” Since it is impossible to deny the right of states parties to withdraw from the NPT, it is all the more important to put in place appropriate preventive measures to dissuade withdrawal from the Treaty. The urgency of dealing preventively with NPT withdrawal increases as more nonnuclear-weapon states are poised to become “nuclear threshold states.”1 As the IAEA reported in 2008: “Much of the sensitive information coming from the [Abdul Qadeer Khan] network existed in electronic form, enabling easier use and dissemination. This includes information that relates to uranium centrifuge enrichment and, more disturbing, information that relates to nuclear weapon design.”2 and: “a substantial amount of sensitive information related to the fabrication of a nuclear weapon was available to members of the network."3 The widespread dissemination of this type of scientific and technical information raises the prospect that more states will acquire the capability to manufacture nuclear weapons and their means of delivery, thus increasing the
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Disarmament, Nonproliferation
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Few recent American foreign policy decisions have been as divisive as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear arms control agreement with Iran. Advocates of the agreement have focused far too exclusively on its potential benefits. Opponents equally exclusively on its potential faults. Both sides tend to forget that any feasible arms control agreement between what are hostile sides tends to be a set of compromises that are an extension of arms races and potential conflicts by other means. As a result, imperfect agreements with uncertain results are the rule, not the exception. President Trump has made it clear that he opposes the agreement and would like to terminate it. His dismissal of Rex Tillerson as Security of State, and his replacement by Mike Pompeo – along with his dismissal of General H.R. McMaster and replacement with John Bolton – indicate that President Trump may well seek to terminate the agreement in the near future – action which might or might not have significant bipartisan support. He faces a May 5th to decide whether to again waive economic sanction against Iran, a decision which comes up for renewal every 120 days.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Deterrence, JCPOA
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Sarah Ladislaw, Frank A. Verrastro
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: On May 8, President Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear agreement endorsed by Iran, the United States, France, Germany, China, Russia, and the United Kingdom. Concurrent with that action, Section 1245 of the National Defense Authorization Act of FY 2012 (NDAA) was reactivated, along with other U.S. sanctions under the Iran Freedom and Counter-proliferation Act (IFCA), the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA), and the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (ITRSHRA). Departments and agencies are implementing these sanctions with 90-day and 180-day wind down periods, after which time the applicable sanctions come back into full effect.1 Since May, administration officials from several agencies have been travelling around the world to explain the rationale for the decision to pull out of the JCPOA and persuade countries to comply with the sanctions program. Earlier this week (following the end of the first 90-day wind down period), the administration announced that on August 7 sanctions would be reimposed on: Iran’s automotive sector; Activities related to the issuance of sovereign debt; Transactions related to the Iranian rial; Iran’s trade in gold and other precious metals; Graphite, aluminum, steel, coal, and software used in industrial processes; The acquisition of U.S. bank notes by the government of Iran.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Sanctions, JCPOA
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Michael Elleman, Mark T. Fitzpatrick
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Institute for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: Iran has the largest and most diverse ballistic-missile arsenal in the Middle East – could these systems one day be used to launch nuclear weapons? In a new report, IISS analysts Michael Elleman and Mark Fitzpatrick offer a detailed assessment of the design intentions behind each missile within Iran’s inventory. The result is a clear picture as to which platforms the United States and its allies should seek to remove, and which ones can be discounted. The common claim that Iran’s missile development must be stopped altogether because these systems could deliver nuclear weapons in the future rests on broad generalisations. While there is reason for concern, priority attention should be given to those missiles that might realistically be used for such a purpose, if Iran were to go down a perilous nuclear path. The international standard – but not treaty – for determining the inherent nuclear capability of missiles is the threshold developed in 1987 by the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which seeks to forestall exports of missile systems able to deliver a 500kg payload a distance of 300km or more. Eight of Iran’s 13 current ballistic missile systems – the largest and most diverse arsenal in the Middle East – exceed this threshold and are thus deemed to be nuclear capable. The other five, all within the Fateh-110 family of missiles, are certainly lethal, especially when shipped to Hizbullah for use against Israel, but they are clearly not intended for nuclear use. Because capability does not equal intent, the MTCR guidelines should be just the first step in an assessment of Iran’s intentions for its missiles. When the United Nations Security Council drafted a new resolution in July 2015 to accompany the Iran nuclear agreement finalised that month, an element of intent was added to previous sanctions resolution language that prohibited launches of Iranian missiles that were ‘capable of delivering nuclear weapons’. The 2015 resolution calls upon Iran not to engage in activity concerning missiles ‘designed to be’ capable of delivering nuclear weapons. What it means ‘to be designed’ is undefined. Judging intent is partly subjective, but technical clues and intelligence information can guide analysis. The soundest approach is to disaggregate Iran’s various missile systems, and to assess design intentions on the basis of the technical capabilities and lineage of the different missiles.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Israel, North America
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Regional Studies: CIRS
  • Abstract: The Red Star and the Crescent (Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2018) provides an in-depth and multi-disciplinary analysis of the evolving relationship between China and the Middle East. Despite its increasing importance, very few studies have examined this dynamic, deepening, and multi-faceted nexus. James Reardon-Anderson has sought to fill this critical gap. The volume examines the ‘big picture’ of international relations, then zooms in on case studies and probes the underlying domestic factors on each side. Reardon-Anderson tackles topics as diverse as China’s security strategy in the Middle East, its military relations with the states of the region, its role in the Iran nuclear negotiations, the Uyghur question, and the significance and consequences of the Silk Road strategy.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, Iran, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Nancy Gallagher, Ebrahim Mohseni, Clay Ramsay
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM)
  • Abstract: Summary of Findings 1. Rouhani’s Re-election Seen as Endorsement of His Foreign Policy and JCPOA, Not Revolutionary Change There is no consensus among Iranians about what type of mandate Rouhani was given by the 57 percent of Iranians who voted to give him a second term. Fewer than 12 percent offered the same answer when asked an open-ended question. When presented with alternative interpretations, large majorities agree that Rouhani's re-election means that most Iranian people approve of his foreign policy and the nuclear deal he negotiated with the P5+1 countries. They disagree with the assertion that his re-election means most people disapprove of the ideals of the Islamic Revolution, or that they want religion to play a lesser role in policy making. 2. Approval of Nuclear Deal Increased during Presidential Campaign, Despite Disappointment with its Economic Benefit After steady declines in enthusiasm for the JCPOA prior to the May 2017 presidential election, approval of the agreement rose during the election process. Two in three Iranians approve of the agreement, while about a third oppose it. The agreement divides those who voted for Rouhani from those who did not. While eight in ten Rouhani voters approve of the deal, only four in ten of those who voted for Raisi approve of the agreement. Two years since the signing of the agreement, majorities believe that Iran has not received most of the promised benefits and that there have been no improvements in people’s living conditions as a result of the nuclear deal. A plurality thinks that the agreement for Iran to purchase passenger airplanes from the United States will likely have little impact on Iran’s economy. Still, there is some optimism that the deal will eventually improve people’s living conditions. 3. U.S. Seen as Actively Obstructive, Contrary to Commitment under JCPOA Most Iranians lack confidence that the United States will live up to its obligations under the JCPOA. They believe either that the United States is finding other ways to keep the negative effects of sanctions that were lifted under the deal, or that the United States has not even lifted the sanctions it was supposed to lift. A growing majority also believes that contrary to the terms of the agreement, the United States is trying to prevent other countries from normalizing their trade and economic relations with Iran. While a majority still express some confidence that other P5+1 countries will abide by the agreement, most say Europeans are slow in investing and trading with Iran primarily due to fear of punishment by the United States. 4. Majority Support Retaliation if U.S. Abrogates JCPOA Iranians expect President Donald Trump to be more hostile toward Iran than was former President Barack Obama. Seven in ten Iranians believe it likely that Trump may decide not to abide by the terms of the nuclear agreement. Attitudes about how Iran should respond if the United States violates the JCPOA have hardened: A clear majority now thinks that instead of taking the matter to the UN, Iran should retaliate by restarting the aspects of its nuclear program it has agreed to suspend under the JCPOA, if the United States abrogates the deal. A large majority see the new sanctions that Congress is likely to impose on Iran as being against the spirit of the JCPOA, with half saying it would violate the letter of the agreement as well. 5. No Appetite for Renegotiating the Nuclear Deal with Trump Large majorities say that Iran should refuse to increase the duration of the special nuclear limits it accepted under the JCPOA, or to terminate its nuclear enrichment program, even if offered more sanctions relief in return. 6. Majority Opposes a Halt to Missile Testing, Even in Return for More Sanctions Relief Over three in five say that Iran should continue testing ballistic missiles despite U.S. demands for Iran to halt such tests and find the proposition that Iran reduce testing missiles in return for the lifting of more sanctions unacceptable. Two thirds reject the notion that Rouhani’s re-election means most Iranians oppose testing of missiles by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). 7. Greater Support for Self-Sufficiency An increasing majority think Iran should strive to achieve economic self-sufficiency rather than focusing on increasing its trade with other countries. Six in ten say current changes in the world make it necessary for Iran to have a president who will stand up for Iran’s rights and refuse to compromise. Majorities reject offering various steps in exchange for more sanctions relief—steps such as Iran reducing its missile testing, or recognizing Israel, or ceasing its aid to the Syrian government and Hezbollah. Rejection of these steps is significantly lower, though, among those who think the nuclear deal has improved the living condition of ordinary Iranians. 8. Economy is Seen as Bad, and Reducing Unemployment is Given the Highest Priority Large majorities say Iran’s economic situation is bad, and less than a quarter think the economic condition of their family has improved over the last four years. Half think that the country’s economic situation is getting worse. Eight in ten say reducing unemployment should be a top priority for Rouhani in the next four years. 9. Rouhani Seen as Successful in Foreign Policy, not in Reducing Unemployment Majorities see Rouhani as being successful in improving Iran’s relations with other countries and getting international sanctions on Iran lifted. Majorities also see his re-election to mean that most Iranians approve of his foreign policy and the JCPOA. In fact, the nuclear agreement is regarded as Rouhani’s most important accomplishment during his first four years in office. Rouhani, however, gets low marks on the unemployment situation in Iran. Six in ten say he has been unsuccessful in reducing unemployment and half say he has thus far failed to improve the economy. 10. Rouhani's Reelection was Not Certain until Ghalibaf Left the Race Election polls were quite accurate in predicting the outcome of the election. Pre-election polls suggested that if Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf had been Rouhani’s main opponent rather than Raisi, the election results would have been much closer. After the second presidential debate, Rouhani was ahead of Ghalibaf by less than 6 percentage points, while his lead over Raisi was more than 20 points. While an overwhelming majority of Raisi supporters said that if Raisi pulled out they would vote for Ghalibaf, less than half of Ghalibaf supporters said they would vote for Raisi if their candidate pulled out. Indeed, when Ghalibaf pulled out of the race nearly half of his supporters switched to Rouhani and helped him pass the 50 percent threshold. 11. Turnout Helps Rouhani About a quarter of those who said they rarely vote in Iranian presidential elections reported that they voted in the May 2017 election, and seven in ten said they voted for Rouhani. Large majorities believe that both the Guardian Council and the Interior Ministry were fair and impartial as they fulfilled their election-related responsibilities. About five percent, however, say that they went to their voting stations but for one reason or another were not ultimately able to cast their ballots. 12. Rouhani and Zarif's Popularity Increase after Re-Election, but General Soleymani is Most Popular Political Figure The Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, is the most popular politician in Iran, with President Rouhani coming in second. Although Rouhani’s popularity increased somewhat during the recent election, it is still substantially lower than the first time he ran for office and after he signed the JCPOA. 13. Post-election Terrorist Attacks: ISIS Seen as Primary Culprit, but Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the United States Likely Helped A large majority of Iranians thinks that ISIS conducted the June 7 attacks in Tehran. Most Iranians also think that Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the United States probably provided guidance or support to the perpetrators. 14. Strong Support for Fighting ISIS, but Not for Collaboration with U.S. The June 7 attacks seem to have increased support for Iran playing a more active role in the Middle East. More than eight in ten call increasing Iran’s security a top priority; seven in ten say this about fighting ISIS and increasing Iran’s influence in the region. A growing majority of Iranians support their government helping groups that are fighting ISIS, although the number that favors sending troops has remained roughly constant. Two in three support Iran sending military personnel to Syria to help the Assad government against armed Syrian rebels, including ISIS. Support for Iran and the United States collaborating with one another to help Iraq’s government counter ISIS is at its lowest, with an increasing majority saying they would oppose such cooperation. 15. Views of P5+1 Countries Majorities regard Russia, China, and Germany—half of the P5+1—favorably, and the other half—the U.S., France and Britain—unfavorably. While six in ten believe that most P5+1 countries (but not the United States) will fulfill their obligations under the JCPOA, views toward all the Western powers that took part in the JCPOA negotiations are now less positive. Though a majority believes that Iran’s relations with European countries have improved as a result of the deal, only a quarter say that about the United States. Still, far from showing implacable hostility toward the West, a majority continues to think it is possible for the Islamic world and the West to find common ground.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Elections
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East