Welcome to The Iran Project

 The Iran Project’s Mission in 2017

The Iran Project continues its efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Iran has remained in full compliance with its commitments under the nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) since the interim agreement was signed in 2013, but new threats to the JCPOA have emerged. Although the Trump administration has not withdrawn from the agreement, the actions and threats from the Executive Branch and from Congress against Iran and the JCPOA could eventually lead to its demise.

The Iran Project is concerned about the Trump administration’s regional policy more broadly. The White House seems determined to increase the use of military force in the region, double down on its strong partnership with Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states to counter Iran’s non-nuclear activities, and single out Iran as the greatest long term threat to American security. This new approach has contributed to a more volatile and polarized security environment in the Middle East. Moreover, the intensified military conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan have brought US ground forces, aircraft and ships in closer proximity to Iranian, Turkish and Russian forces – each supporting different local combatants and thereby increasing the risk of a US and Iranian military confrontation that could dangerously escalate.

In this new environment, The Iran Project has chosen to address a broader diplomatic agenda that can preserve the JCPOA that is working to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons, hold open opportunities for collaboration and dialogue when it is in the US interest to do so, and reduce the possibility of a direct conflict between the US and Iran.

We approach this broader agenda with the conviction that none of the regional conflicts can be resolved by military action alone, and that no political solutions will be possible in any of the conflicted areas without some agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia. To that end, the long term diplomatic efforts of the US with Russia and Turkey should be directed toward encouraging the Iranians and Saudis to agree to solutions that are in their own security interests.

Any American president today would face the challenging dilemma of how to oppose Iran’s troubling activities in the region while at the same time preserving the JCPOA and remaining open to coordinating with Iran when necessary to achieve U.S. objectives. Iran’s activities in each of the regional disputes, particularly its support for the Assad regime and for Hezbollah, are a major threat to peaceful regional solutions. Nevertheless, the Trump administration’s decision to raise the level of military engagement in the region, to encourage Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States plus Israel to undertake common action against Iran, and to try to exclude Iran from participating in regional affairs will not result in a long-term resolution of conflicts. Worse, such action could cause the unraveling of the nuclear agreement. A nuclear armed Iran would be a far more dangerous adversary.

The Iran Project will continue to provide balanced analyses of the current situation in the Middle East, urge a greater use of political and diplomatic strategies to achieve US national security objectives, and promote improved communications between the U.S. and Iran.

William H. Luers, Director, The Iran Project