United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

Iran Primer's Blog

Part II: Zarif & Iran on the Nuke Talks

            Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reemphasized that Iran is prepared to take the necessary steps to prove that its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful in an interview with NBC television. “We don't see any benefit in Iran developing a nuclear weapon,” Zarif told David Gregory on “Meet the Press.” Zarif also argued that attaining a nuclear weapon would actually reduce Tehran’s influence in the region. He said that he would stay in Vienna beyond the July 20 due date for an agreement if necessary. The foreign minister has met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry three times since the final round of talks started.  

          July 14 Update: Iran released the most detailed report to date explaining its practical needs for its nuclear program. It was posted on the quasi-official website NuclearEnergy.ir.

            The following is a transcript and video clip of the NBC interview, which aired on July 13, with tweets from Zarif’s personal account and other remarks.

 

 
 
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: Well, actually, I think what we have said, should give confidence to people that we're not looking for nuclear weapons. We have said that our entire nuclear energy program can fit in a very clear and well defined picture. That is we want to produce fuel for our own nuclear reactor. Nuclear power reactor. And we have a contract that provides us fuel for that reactor. But that contract expires in seven or eight years.
 
DAVID GREGORY: Because reupping that is not a problem. As the American have told you-- right?
 
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: Actually, it's more complicated than you'd think. The United States built the reactor for us in the 1950s. And for the past 20 years we've been searching all over the world for fuel for that reactor. And the United States is not holding up providing the fuel itself, but that’s prevented other from providing fuel to Iran.
 
To the point that a few years ago, three, four years ago we had to announce that if you're giving us 20% of fuel for the American built reactor in Tehran, we have to produce it ourselves. They thought that we couldn't do it, but we did it. And now that reactor Iraq running on fuel. We want to be able to work with the international community. We want to ensure that nobody is concerned about Tehran's nuclear projects.
 
DAVID GREGORY: So to that point, if that's what you want to do, it's important that our audience understands. When we talk about centrifuges and nuclear power, centrifuges are how you enrich uranium. Enriching uranium is the key component, ultimately, of making a nuclear weapon, if it's done at a certain speed. And then it has to be weaponized. If you really want to say to the international community, "We don't want a nuclear weapon," are you prepared to dismantle a good portion of the nuclear capacity, the number of centrifuges you now have?
 
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: I don't think it would do the job. As somebody who has worked all his life for non-proliferation I can tell you that the best way to ensure that Iran will never break away, will never break out, is to allow an internationally monitored nuclear program.
 
Because we have the technology. We have the know how. We have the equipment. So the only way, realistically, to deal with this, is to have a genuinely peaceful program that can be worked in a transparent fashion, without the need for the imposing arbitrary restrictions.
 
DAVID GREGORY: So with respect, the international community is divided about a lot of things. They're actually not divided about one thing. They think Iran is up to no good and wants to build a nuclear weapon. So why not say definitively that you will eliminate the bulk of your capacity, the bulk of your centrifuges to say to the world, "We really won't fight. We really won't build a weapon."
 
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: Yeah. First of all, that’s a different international community. They day I went to a meeting of 5 plus 1 or E-3 plus 3 in New York, they said we represent the internationally community, and I told them “I'm just coming to you from chairing a meeting of 120 countries called the Non-Aligned Movement, where Iran has been the chairman and is the chairman. And they support us.” They believe, actually, 180-some members of the NTC believe, and they repeatedly said it in 1990 and in 2010, that countries' choices, of their fuel cycle, should be respected.
So it's not the international community. A few countries who have concerns. And we are talking to them in order to address those concerns. But those concerns, there are international criteria in order to address those concerns. And we have given them opportunities to find resolutions, realistic resolutions, in order to address those concerns.
 
One of those is to freeze, as the leader pointed out, that you don't need this capacity tomorrow. You can produce this capacity over a length of time. And we are prepared to work with Five Plus One, with members of the Five Plus One, with others in order to make sure that the confidence is created.
 
DAVID GREGORY: But you won't commit to a specific number of centrifuges. Another way of saying that is you won't commit to dismantling a bulk of your capacity.
 
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF:
No, I will commit to everything and anything that would provide credible assurances for the international community that Iran is not seeking nuclear weapons, because we are not. We don't see any benefit in Iran developing a nuclear weapon.
 
DAVID GREGORY:
How could you not see a benefit? I mean you're a Shia state surrounded by Sunni states, many of whom are your enemies. You know full well the deterrent factor that a nuclear country like Pakistan can wield in the international community. You can have more of the influence regionally. Cynics would say, "Why wouldn't you want to have a nuclear weapon?"
 
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF:
Actually, all these calculations are wrong. In fact we need to go out of or way in order to convince our neighbors that we want to live in peace and tranquility with them, because the politics of geography, the fact that we're bigger, the fact that we're stronger, that we're more populous, the fact that we have a better technology, the fact that our human resources is by far more developed than most of our neighbors. All of these provide us with inherent areas of strength that we don't need to augment with other capabilities.
 
That is why nobody considers our neighbors in Pakistan as a stronger force in the region than Iran, simply because they have nuclear weapons. In fact, I believe nuclear weapons reduces countries' influence in our region. It doesn't help anybody.
 
The fact that everybody in the international community believes that mutual assured destruction that is the way the United States, Russia and others, get seek peace and security through having the possibility of destroying each other 100 times over is simply mad.
 
And that is why I do not believe that you need to inculcate this mentality that nuclear weapons makes anybody safe. Have they made Pakistan safe? Have they made Israel safe? Have they made the United States safe? Have they made Russia safe? All these countries are susceptible. Now you have proof that nuclear weapons or no amount of military power makes you safe. So we need to live in a different paradigm. And that's what we are calling for.
 

Click here for more on Zarif's interview.

 

Interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour


            "Of course we have a lot of gaps to fill in order to reach comprehensive deal. We have made some progress. People have started to listen because you won't reach solutions if you try to simply give a position. Positions will not resolve problems. An approach to problem solving is the approach that we require to resolve problems.

            "And I think that has started, rather late in the process, but its better late than never. So we're there. But also on the extension, there are technicalities to be worked out and colleagues are talking about them, also a political decision needs to be made whether we have enough to warrant an extension and that is in the process of being discussed and decided upon.
            "Numbers [of centrifuges] are not that important. What you need to make sure is that this [nuclear program] is geared towards a specific purpose and at the same time it cannot be misused for non-peaceful purposes.

            "The way you guarantee it is geared towards a specific purpose, is to have a purpose. And if you don't have a purpose, then it's for naught.

            "The other thing is to have inspections, to have verification, and also to make sure that there is no uranium to be re-enriched, that all the uranium that is produced to 3.5 percent is immediately converted to oxide. And oxide cannot be re-enriched. It requires another process, which Iran doesn't have, and if you have international inspectors in Iran, watching us, you can make sure.

            "But there is also a possibility of phasing, as the leader pointed out, we don't need this in a year or two so we can phase this to reach that level with the international community and with others involved.

            "So there are a whole range of measures. That is why I said numbers are not the primary issue. Some people try to make numbers a primary issue. But the primary issue is to make sure that this program will remain always peaceful. That is as much my intention as anybody else’s."
 
Click here for more of the interview.
 
            "We are striving to end this artificial deadlock which is based on an illogical framework and reach a comprehensive agreement. Of course, we still need serious discussions at the level of the political directors.
           "Washington needs to take a political decision... to end the deadlock. We had a good exchange of views."
           July 15, 2014 to the press
 

            "We haven’t resolved any problem, but we have made some important headway in probably removing some of the misconceptions and moving forward with making more serious decisions."
            July 13, 2014 to the press

 

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi

           “We have made almost good progress in the text and maybe 60 percent to 65 percent of the text has been agreed, but this doesn’t mean that we have made progress in the contents. We have not yet reached a major agreement on the key content issues.”

           July 12, 2014 to the press
 

Report: Prospects for Sanctions Relief in Deal

           Credible sanctions relief will be a crucial factor in convincing Iran to sign a nuclear accord, according to a new report by the Center for a New American Security. Elizabeth Rosenberg argues that overcoming private sector concerns about the durability of a deal will be more difficult than the legal work of removing sanctions. Uncertainty “stems from decades of illicit Iranian activities and isolation from international trade and financial transactions, and has resulted in an extremely cautious culture of compliance with Iran sanctions among private companies,” according to Rosenberg. The report warns that foreign investors will not immediately flood Iran the day after a deal. If banks and businesses, however, are too slow to begin transacting with their Iranian counterparts, Tehran “will see little incentive to implement its end of the bargain.” The following are excerpts from the report.

 
Relief in Practice: The Role of the Private Sector
            After years of Iran’s isolation and record of illicit activities, companies and banks are wary of the Iranian brand. They want to avoid bad business bets and the massive civil and criminal penalties that the United States has imposed on companies for violating sanctions. Notwithstanding these concerns, there is considerable investor enthusiasm for new business opportunities in Iran. The challenges to achieving these opportunities, however, will be a major speed bump on the path to expanding economic ties between Iran and the international financial system. They will also be a major impediment to the provision of credible sanctions relief to Iran. Though the P5+1 may create avenues for sanctions relief as part of a nuclear deal with Iran, the P5+1 cannot direct the manner in which the private sector deals with Iran or the speed at which that will occur.
 
            International banks represent the most cautious commercial sector when it comes to dealing with Iran. They are extremely careful about the legal and reputational risks that go along with sanctions evasion. Banks have paid a very high price for violating sanctions, both in financial penalties and in reputational damage. In June, the French bank BNP was fined $9 billion by U.S. regulators and ordered to temporarily halt U.S. dollar clearing. This followed a $1.9 billion penalty for HSBC in 2012 and penalties on Standard Chartered Bank, the Royal Bank of Scotland and others. Overcoming the reticence of international banks to do business with Iran will require the P5+1 to issue clear regulatory guidance about which multilateral sanctions are lifted, and extensive signals about political support for a deal.
 
           Additionally, U.S. officials will need to conduct major outreach efforts to foreign banks and their regulators to explain the terms of a final deal and how U.S. sanctions on foreign entities will function under such an agreement. These steps, while technical, are essential to bolstering the credibility of sanctions relief offered to Iran under a nuclear agreement and the durability of a deal.
 
Laying the Groundwork for Future Business
            Iran is working hard to entice European companies to invest in Iran, and possibly U.S. companies as well, given their access to sophisticated technology and project management experience. Iran recently cancelled an oilfield development contract with China National Petroleum Corporation due to poor performance, a move that will free up energy sector opportunities for preferable European service providers. Iran needs substantial international energy company investments to stem high rates of production depletion, increase low rates of oilfield recovery and to significantly expand natural gas production for the export market.
 
Navigating Sanctions Relief Under a Final Nuclear Deal
           Navigating Iran sanctions under a potential final deal will be more, not less, complicated than it is at present. Sanctions prohibitions will change and incrementally lessen over the period of deal implementation. Penalties for violations, however, will not. The business environment in Iran is challenging, corrupt in certain sectors and unfamiliar to most potential international investors. Several economic sectors, including the ports, construction and energy sectors, are dominated by entities with extensive experience in illicit activity. This includes proliferation transactions as well as money laundering or support for terrorism. These factors will increase the burden and cost of due diligence on foreign investors to ensure that they do not inadvertently partner with sanctioned entities or engage in activities prohibited by sanctions. This will slow investment in Iran and increase the cost of doing business there, two factors that will directly undermine the credibility of sanctions relief to Iran.
 
Conclusion
            As the P5+1 and Iran enter the final stage of negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, they will wrestle with the most challenging issues such as the components and pace of calibrated multilateral sanctions relief under a potential deal. Successful diplomacy with Iran requires a coordinated approach from the international community and major outreach to the private sector to offer sanctions relief on paper and in practice. Congress must also play a supportive, leadership role in implementing and overseeing a potential nuclear deal. These efforts will be critical to maintaining the P5+1’s collective economic leverage over Iran and to keep it moving towards successful, long-term implementation of a nuclear deal.
 
            Sanctions on Iran will be in place for a very long time to come, even in a best-case outcome of the nuclear talks. Taking the necessary steps under a potential deal to delineate sanctions relief from continued restrictive measures for the international private sector and national regulatory authorities is crucial to enhance the durability of a deal. It is also fundamental to clarifying and preserving the architecture of financial sanctions if negotiations fail and a buildup of sanctions is needed. Defense of national security necessitates rigorous efforts to adapt sanctions to support diplomatic aims. This has never been truer than the present moment, as the international community faces the potential for a final nuclear agreement with Iran.
 
Click here for the full text.
 
Elizabeth Rosenberg is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Energy, Environment and Security Program at CNAS. She was a panelist at USIP’s event on what the United States might cede on sanctions for a deal. Click here for a video and rundown of the main points.
 

Report: Iran’s Practical Nuclear Needs

            On July 14, quasi-official website NuclearEnergy.ir published the most detailed report to date on Iran’s “practical needs” for nuclear energy and an explanation for why it wants its own fuel reactors. It explains the logic behind Tehran’s stated need of a industrial scale uranium enrichment capacity of 190,000 separative work units, announced by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei earlier in July. But the authors emphasize that industrial-scale enrichment will not be necessary until after 2021, when Iran's fuel supply agreement with Russia expires. The report comes less than week before the July 20 deadline for the world’s six major powers and Iran to negotiate a comprehensive agreement. The following is NuclearEnergy.ir’s infographic followed by a summary of the report.

 
What Are Iran’s ‘Practical Needs’ and Why Does Iran Want to Fuel Reactors on Its Own?
 
            A new report prepared by the Iranian outlet NuclearEnergy.ir offers fresh insight into Iran’s practical enrichment needs and explains why Iran wants to fuel reactors on its own. The report comes amid intense talks between Iran and the P5+1 to reach an agreement by the July 20th deadline of the Joint Plan of Action. It features detailed step-by-step calculations of Iranian nuclear fuel requirements in terms of Separative Work Units (SWU). The report also details the motivations for Iran’s drive to domestically produce fuel, based on an empirical approach that provides an overview of past experiences.
 
            In the report, the authors substantiate the fuel requirements of the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), Iran’s sole light water power reactor, providing an estimate of 190,738 SWU. This figure does not account for minimal waste of 10%, thus emphasizing the conservative nature of the 190,000 SWU raised as Iran’s fuel requirement. However, the authors underscore that this capacity will not be needed until the expiry of Iran’s fuel supply agreement with Russia, which expires in 2021. At present, Iran’s current total capacity, including installed but not operating centrifuges, is over 22,000 SWU. The report also reveals that the fuel requirements of the nascent Arak reactor have not yet been determined as the plant’s configuration is still subject to discussion. However, the authors posit that the Arak reactor’s SWU needs are negligible in comparison to the BNPP. Lastly, the authors estimate the annual fuel needs of the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) at 830 SWU.
 
           The authors underscore that Iran will not need the capacity to fuel the BNPP until 2021, when the contract with Russia for fuel supplies expires. The report brings up four main motivations for Iran’s determination to end its reliance on a single source for fuel:
 
           Supply concerns; beginning with Iran’s experience of being denied a share of the output of European nuclear fuel consortium Eurodif, despite 10% ownership, the report proceeds with outlining a history of repeated disruptions in the supply of nuclear fuel to Iran. As the most recent example, the case of the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR), for which Iran was denied fuel in 2009 – thus compelling it to produce its own fuel – is highlighted as a key event underpinning Iranian supply concerns.
 
           Cost of idle reactors; the report also discusses the cost of idle reactors. Citing an estimate by prominent U.S.-based nuclear scientist Frank Von Hippel, the authors argue that if Iran realizes its plan to build 20 reactors, the cost of a future fuel supply cut could cost Iran $4 billion per year.
 
           Meeting the need for industrial-scale enrichment; the report outlines industrial-scale enrichment as a technological objective, even if Iran decides to import fuel for additional reactors. Founded on Iranian supply concerns, the authors posit that developing industrial-scale enrichment capacity and know-how will allow Iran to power its own reactors while thwarting the effects of potential supply cuts in the future, if it decides to import fuel for additional reactors.
 
           Enhancing its fuel fabrication capability; the authors posit that producing fuel rods for nuclear power plants, which Iran is not currently engaged in, will equip Iranian scientists with the know-how to not only fuel all reactors on Iranian soil, but more importantly, step in should Iran decide to import fuel for additional reactors and one day be faced with supply cuts. The report also clarifies that Iran is engaged in long-term negotiations with Russia on cooperative arrangements for domestic production of fuel for the BNNP after the expiry of the current supply contract.
 
           The report also addresses the legal and safety aspects of Iran producing fuel for the BNPP on its own.
 
           In relation to safety matters, the report emphasizes that Iran now has experience of nuclear fuel production and related safety aspects. Pointing out that Iran has conducted safety tests on finalized fuel assemblies for the Arak reactor, the authors posit that fuel for the BNPP could also be irradiated at the TRR.
 
           In relation to legal matters, the authors underscore that Iran is already in long-term negotiations with Russia over domestic production of fuel for the BNPP. Bringing up the example of the cutoff in fuel for TRR and subsequent unilateral production of fuel for that reactor, the authors argue that Iran could legally manufacture fuel for the BNPP through minute alterations to existing fuel designs.
 
           Lastly, the authors argue that “with the contract to supply fuel for the BNPP set to expire in 2021, the need to have a meaningful enrichment program that is capable of providing for the country’s fuel needs is ever more pressing.” The report further warns against efforts to reduce “the Iranian enrichment program to a symbolic and meaningless program”, arguing that it would “mean the effective scrapping of the entire fuel cycle, which employs thousands of Iranian scientists”, while pointing to that the latter has provided Iran with “an opportunity to develop advanced technology with a multitude of peaceful applications.”
 
Click here for the full report.
 

Report: UK Policy on Iran

            On July 14, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee released a comprehensive report supporting the building of political, strategic, commercial and cultural ties with Iran. The report noted the reasons why relations between London and Tehran have been strained, including Iran’s human right violations and the nuclear issue.
           
The committee argued that the current nuclear talks between Iran and the world’s six major powers “are the most promising forum for reaching a settlement which assuages fears” of the international community. Most importantly, the report seemed to endorse a potential deal that would allow Iran a limited uranium enrichment capability. “We acknowledge that there is probably no prospect of a lasting deal which does not allow Iran to enrich uranium,” wrote the committee members.
           
The committee also acknowledged that the closing of its embassy after it was stormed by protestors in 2011 and that the subsequent prolonged silence resulted in other countries being seen as “better choice partners in international relations.” The following is the executive summary of the report.

             It would be in the UK’s interest to have a mature and constructive relationship with Iran on many levels: political, strategic, commercial and cultural. Yet this remains an ideal which is far from being achieved. Relations between the UK and Iran have been strained for years and suffer from lack of trust on both sides, born of a fear that one side is seeking to destabilise or thwart the other, and a perception on both sides that their interests rarely coincide. This perception has been reinforced by missed opportunities at various times by both countries.
 
             The challenges to the UK’s relationship with Iran are multiple and profound. Progress in pursuing the UK’s interests in Iran seems a remote prospect until a more trusting bilateral relationship has been established, and that will require at least partial resolution of concerns held by the UK about Iran’s role in regional security and stability.
 
Human rights standards
            We encourage the FCO to continue to take any opportunities that arise, whether bilaterally or multilaterally, to reiterate the UK’s objection to unacceptable practices, including executions, persecution of people on the grounds of their faith, and severe restrictions on freedom of expression. No concessions should be made on human rights in the interests of making progress in negotiations in other fields.
 
The Tehran Embassy
            We welcome the recent decision to re-open the Tehran Embassy. We understand why the Foreign Secretary adopted a cautious approach towards the revival of diplomatic relations; but we question whether the UK waited too long for assurances on security which were never going to be forthcoming from all quarters of the Iranian hierarchy.
 
             The lack of full diplomatic representation in Iran hinders the UK’s ability to shape events, gather information, build the personal contacts which are essential to constructive diplomatic relations, and reassure its regional allies that it could make fully informed assessments of Iranian opinion and intentions. We heard that the prolonged period of silence between the UK and Iran had resulted in the UK being less visible in the country, and that other countries are now looked at as better choice partners in international relations.
 
The purpose of Iran’s nuclear programme
            There is no convincing explanation for why Iran might need for civil purposes the stocks of enriched uranium which it held in January 2014. We believe that the primary reason for Iran's decision to build such a capacity to enrich uranium and to amass stocks to current levels was to give itself the option to develop a nuclear military capability. That has almost been achieved. While the Foreign and Commonwealth Office refers to the body of evidence pointing towards possible military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear programme, we are not aware of any unequivocal evidence that Iran has taken a decision to push ahead and develop a nuclear weapon.
 
Alternatives to negotiation and the Joint Plan of Action
             We do not believe that alternatives to negotiation offer a realistic prospect of a long-term, sustainable solution to current concerns over the Iranian nuclear programme. The negotiations on the Joint Plan of Action are the most promising forum for reaching a settlement which assuages fears about the scope and intention of the Iranian nuclear programme. We endorse the UK’s decision to take part in negotiations with Iran on its
nuclear programme through the framework of the Joint Plan of Action.
 
Should we trust President Rouhani?
             We believe that President Rouhani is not necessarily a reformist at heart: he is a pragmatist who hopes to improve standards of living in Iran by persuading the West to lift sanctions, while retaining in place as much of the country’s nuclear programme as possible. However, while Mr Rouhani has the impetus of his election victory and demonstrably high levels of public support, we believe that the P5+1 can have confidence that he is an authoritative representative of Iran, and we believe that he is genuinely committed to a sustainable deal. For now at least, he should be trusted, but he should be judged by his actions, not by his words.
 
The comprehensive agreement under the Joint Plan of Action
             We acknowledge that there is probably no prospect of a lasting deal which does not allow Iran to enrich uranium.
 
             Enrichment capacity should be limited to a level which Iran would not reject outright but which would still allow enough time for any attempt at breakout to be detected and referred to the UN Security Council—we suggest six months as an absolute minimum.
 
             Trust, which is essential if the plan is to succeed, may crumble unless the comprehensive agreement enshrines a right for the IAEA to make unannounced and intrusive inspections of all nuclear facilities, products, designs and records.
 
             International sanctions undoubtedly played a major part in preparing the ground for a
more amenable Iranian negotiating position. They may not have directly forced Iran to
make concessions; but the fatigue amongst large sections of the Iranian public with the
international isolation and disadvantage which flowed from sanctions was a factor in the election of President Rouhani, which paved the way for more fruitful negotiations.
 
             We doubt that any deal would have been achieved in Geneva in November 2013 had
limited sanctions relief not been offered.
 
             Modifying the design of the Arak reactor so that it produces less plutonium has value, but third-party monitoring of storage of the spent fuel—or preferably removal and third-party custody of it—would be instrumental in helping to allay concerns.
 
Facilitating humanitarian trade with Iran
             The UK should not assume that letters of comfort from the US Treasury to banks will be enough to reassure them that they will not be penalised commercially for facilitating
humanitarian trade under the Joint Plan of Action. Ministers should state publicly that
they encourage UK banks to provide the necessary facilities for trade in humanitarian
goods and will if required defend to the US Treasury their right to do so. If trade with Iran in humanitarian goods is facilitated under the Joint Plan of Action, even if only on a limited scale, vigilance will be needed if the diversion of funds and illicit trade which
occurred under the Oil-for-Food Programme in Iraq is not to be repeated in Iran.
 
Click here for the full report.
 

Poll: Majority of Americans Favor Diplomacy

           Nearly two-thirds of the American public favors making a deal with Iran that would limit its uranium enrichment capacity and impose additional intrusive inspections in exchange for some sanctions relief, according to a new study by the Program for Public Consultation. Only 35 percent of the public calls for stopping the current negotiations and increasing sanctions to halt Iran’s enrichment program. The study was fielded from June 28 to July 7, with a sample of 748 American adults who were briefed about the current negotiations. The following are excerpts from the report.

 
Presentation of Options and Evaluation of Arguments for Each
           Respondents were presented the two major options for dealing with Iran that are being promoted in the current discourse:
 
a) making a deal that allows Iran to enrich but only to a low level, provides more intrusive inspections and gradually lifts some sanctions;
 
b) not continuing the current negotiations, imposing more sanctions, and pressing Iran to agree to end all uranium enrichment.
 
          They then evaluated a series of arguments for and against each option. All arguments were found convincing by substantial majorities, with neither option having a clear advantage at this stage. Some arguments for each option were more persuasive than others.
 
Evaluation of Options Separately
           Both before and after hearing the pro and con arguments, respondents were asked to evaluate each policy option separately in terms of how acceptable or tolerable they would find it if the US pursued that approach. Before hearing pro and con arguments, negotiating limited enrichment was found acceptable by just under half and ‘just tolerable’ by a third, with those finding it acceptable rising several points after hearing the arguments. The option of increasing sanctions in hopes of stopping enrichment did not do as well: it was initially found acceptable by a third and ‘just tolerable’ by three in ten, with the number finding it acceptable dropping several points after the pro and con arguments.
 
Final Recommendation
http://iranprimer.usip.org/files/u/pciranjuly2014.jpg
 
         Asked for their final recommendation between the options, a six in ten majority recommended making a deal that allows limited uranium enrichment rather than ramping up sanctions in an effort to get Iran to terminate all enrichment. More than six in ten Republicans and Democrats took this position, as well just over half of independents. Those with higher levels of education were substantially more supportive.
 
US-Iran Cooperation on Iraq
           Six in ten favor the US and Iran working together to address the current crisis in Iraq.
 
Confidence-Building Measures
           Very large majorities favor a variety of confidence-building measures: direct talks between the US and Iran on issues of mutual concern; greater cultural, educational, and sporting exchanges; and providing more access to each other’s journalists. A more modest majority also favors greater trade, but views are divided on having more Americans and Iranians visiting each other’s countries as tourists.
 
Views of Iranian Government and Relations Between Islam and the West
           Interestingly, support for cooperative measures between the US and Iran is high, though a large majority has a negative view of the Iranian government and nearly half say that the Islamic and Western traditions are not compatible and reject the view that it is possible to find common ground.
 
Elimination of Nuclear Weapons
            Seven in ten favor a Middle East nuclear weapons free zone that would include Israel as well as Islamic countries, and three in four favor the general goal of eventually eliminating all nuclear weapons.
 
 
Click here for the full report.

Connect With Us

Our Partners

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Logo