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Report: Opportunities & Risks for US after Iran Deal

A nuclear deal between Iran and the world’s six major powers has the potential to reduce instability in the Middle East, strengthen the global non-proliferation regime and increase U.S. prestige and influence. On the other hand, poor execution and policy choices could lead to a more aggressive Iran on the verge of nuclear weapons by 2025 and a region still plagued by sectarian violence and civil war, according to a new study by the Center for a New American Security. Ilan Goldenberg examines the opportunities and risks for the United States after an Iran deal. The following are key excerpts with a link to the full report.

U.S. objectives in the Middle East and globally will not change after an agreement. Preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons will remain a top priority. The United States will continue to focus on the same core interests in the region: stability, counterterrorism, energy supply, and defense of regional partners. Strengthening the global nonproliferation regime and improving American global standing will also remain top priorities.
Opportunities and Risks
Key Questions
Will the agreement prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons?
• The agreement prevents an overt dash.
• The agreement deters a covert sneak-out.
• Enforcement breaks down and Iran obtains a nuclear weapon.
• Loopholes in the agreement allow
Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.
Will Iran moderate or harden?
• Pragmatists use the agreement to wield greater influence.
• Hardliners reassert their influence after the agreement.
Will the agreement help stabilize the Middle East or exacerbate competition?
• The agreement facilitates greater cooperation between the United
States and Iran in Afghanistan and Iraq.
• The agreement leads to intensified competition in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.
• Anxious Arab partners respond by going their own way.
• The agreement causes a deep permanent breach with Israel.
Will the agreement strengthen or weaken the non-proliferation regime?
• The agreement sets new norms for successfully deterring and dealing with problem states.
• The agreement weakens the standards of the non-proliferation regime.
• Regional states react by pursuing domestic enrichment programs.
Will the agreement provide more
strategic space for the United States
to focus on other challenges in Asia and Europe?
• The deal provides the United States more time, resources, and flexibility
to devote to key challenges in Asia and Europe;
• More flexibility in the bilateral relationship
with China; and
• Greater economic leverage with
• The agreement leads to increased tensions between the United States and Russia.
• China improves its position in the Middle East.
A nuclear agreement with Iran represents a historic opportunity for the United States, with the potential for tremendous regional, non-proliferation, and geopolitical benefits. But history will not judge the deal based on the piece of paper signed by Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Zarif. The agreement will be the next step in a long and complex process. It is the behavior of the United States, Iran, and the international community over the next 10–15 years and the policy choices and strategy they execute that will determine whether the agreement succeeds in making the world a more secure and prosperous place. The challenges will be immense, but a concerted American strategy that takes advantage of the opportunities the agreement presents while guarding against the risks can go a long way to increasing the likelihood of a positive outcome.
Click here for the full text.


Tags: Reports

Nuke Talks: Latest from Iran, P5+1

Deputy foreign ministers from Iran and the world’s six major powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States – held a new round of talks over Iran’s nuclear program from June 10 to 14 in Vienna. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was recovering from a broken leg at his home in Massachusetts, said he was “hopeful” an agreement could be reached by the June 30 deadline. But Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov noted that progress in the talks was “progressively slowing down,” describing the pace as “worrying.” International inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities seemed to be a key sticking point. President Hassan Rouhani said Iran would not allow “its secrets to fall into the hands of others under the guise of implementing the protocol” that would require additional inspections. Talks were set to resume in Vienna on June 17.

The following are excerpted remarks from officials on the talks.
President Hassan Rouhani  
“No one in the country should have any doubts about the observance of frameworks and red lines in the nuclear negotiations with the P5+1 countries.” 

“After [the conclusion] of the final agreement in the nuclear negotiations, all economic sanctions and [those] against the Central Bank of Iran must be lifted.” 
—June 14, 2015, according to the press 
“We will not waste time, but we should also not restrict ourselves to a specific deadline.”
“One thing is for certain: Iran will not allow its secrets to fall into the hands of others under the guise of implementing the protocol,” referring to an additional protocol of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty that would allow more inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities.
—June 13, 2015, according to the press
"A problem we face on many issues is that when we reach a framework in one meeting, our negotiating partners go back on it in the next meeting.”
"If the other side sticks to the framework that has been established, and does not bring new issues into play, I believe it can be solved... But if they want to take the path of brinkmanship, the negotiations could take longer."
"What is important to Iran is that, in implementing this protocol, we make it clear to the world that the accusations we have faced about trying to build a bomb are baseless."
—June 13, 2015, according to the press
"We are now in a place that no one would have believed two years ago. All P5+1 countries recognise our rights to enrich uranium. Everyone also agreed that the tyrannical, unjustified and inhumane sanctions must be lifted when an agreement is signed. Now there are problems in the talks and those are just simple legal issues that I am hopeful we will overcome.”
—June 14, 2015, according to the press
Senior Advisor to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati  
Based on the stance of the [Islamic] establishment and Leader of the Islamic Revolution [Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei], inspection of Iran’s military sites is forbidden and no permission will be given to any foreigners, American or otherwise, to inspect our country’s military and sensitive sites. 
They [the Westerners] are looking for an excuse to cause inconvenience and [impose] sanctions [on Tehran]. 
Those who were bent on bringing our country to its knees through economic isolation will finally be defeated. 
—June 8, 2015 to the press 
Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan 
"We do not accede to any sanctions, threats and oppression in the (nuclear) negotiations." 
—June 14, 2015, according to the press 
Deputy Foreign Minister Morteza Sarmadi
"There are streams within the US which don’t want the negotiations to produce results and all their efforts are aimed at stopping the negotiations.”
"The main discussions in the negotiations are focused on the issues related to the sanctions, Research and Development (R&D) and the details of both sides' undertakings.”
—June 16, 2015, according to the press 
Envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Reza Najafi 
"The Islamic Republic of Iran does not recognize the baseless and void accusations raised under the 'PMD' title." 
"We have on various occasions declared that the documents presented for these allegations are forged and we have always informed the Agency (IAEA) of this issue in our meetings." 
"We have stated that if the Agency insists on the veracity of its information, then why they do not welcome Iran's offer for visiting the (nuclear) site in Mariwan." 
"The Agency report says that Iran has carried out banned activities in Mariwan region, and when we declared that we are ready to take the Agency (inspectors) to that region and provide them with managed access to any point that they like, the Agency shrugged off providing a response." 
"And this shows that the Agency has been fed with wrong information." 
—June 12, 2015, according to the press 
United States
Secretary of State John Kerry
“You know, some things have gotten hard. Some things are progressing.”

“It’s hard. It’s a hard negotiation. We haven’t talked to each other in 35 years. There’s huge suspicion. And huge stakes.”
When asked whether he was optimistic, he said, “I’ve never said optimistic. I’ve always said hopeful. I’m hopeful.”
“Could we get an agreement? For sure. Could it fail? Yes.”
“If you don’t get this done on the schedule, then mischief-makers step in everywhere. You have plenty of folks in Iran who would love to not see the deal, hard-liners. . . . You have people here in the United States who don’t want the deal.”
“I know sometimes people lob political grenade suggesting there’s not a strategy and this and that,” Kerry said. “I can’t think of a time in history where America’s leadership has been more critical to as many different issues simultaneously as right now.”
—June 13, 2015, in an interview with the Boston Globe
"The possible military dimensions, frankly, gets distorted a little bit in some of the discussion, in that we’re not fixated on Iran specifically accounting for what they did at one point in time or another. We know what they did. We have no doubt. We have absolute knowledge with respect to the certain military activities they were engaged in."

"What we’re concerned about is going forward. It’s critical to us to know that going forward, those activities have been stopped, and that we can account for that in a legitimate way. That clearly is one of the requirements in our judgment for what has to be achieved in order to have a legitimate agreement. And in order to have an agreement to trigger any kind of material significant sanctions relief, we would have to have those answers."
—June 16, 2015, at a press availability
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov 
The rate of progress... is progressively slowing down. This is very worrying to us because there is very little time before the deadline and we urgently need to enter the final stage.” 
—June 12, 2015 to the press via AFP 
"P5+1 and Iran have reached understanding about the future configuration of the heavy-water reactor in Arak, but the sides are still unclear on who will reconfigure the reactor, when, how and with what kind of financing." 
"Without answering these questions, we will not be able to move forward towards the final agreements." 
"The issue of when ministers can join the negotiations process will be raised at the meeting of the sextet." 
"The only acceptable and universal solution of the issue is the Iran-IAEA framework document and the continuation of the discussion on how this document will be used for future agreements which… will give IAEA very large tasks and will put Iran in front of the necessity to solve the issue of access to its objects." 
—June 11, 2015, according to the press 
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius 
If we want to be sure that the accord is solid we need to be able to inspect the sites... We don't yet have this certainty. This is one of the points we are discussing. 

The agreement needs to be verifiable, solid, robust and right now we don't have such a guarantee.” 
—June 11, 2015 to French channel BFMTV and radio station RMC via AFP 

Political Cartoons Target Kerry & Zarif

Conservative press outlets in Iran have gone to town with publishing political cartoons on the maladies of Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, the two lead negotiators in the nuclear talks. Kerry, who broke his leg in a bicycle crash on May 31 in Switzerland, is recovering from surgery in a Boston hospital. And Zarif reportedly missed a conference in Tehran on June 2 due to back and leg problems that necessitated a hospital visit. Zarif’s back pain, a recurring issue, previously left him a wheelchair during nuclear talks in Geneva in 2013. The following is a roundup of recent cartoons.

     Kerry: “I had an accident, why are you in a wheelchair again?”
     Zarif: “I'm following in the footsteps of Takhti [a legendary Iranian wrestler] who wrestled with one hand when his opponent had a broken arm.”
Translation: The red board is labeled “Iran’s red lines.”

     Obama: “Hi John! How are the talks going?”
     Kerry: “Don’t worry Barack! We are on the right path (shortly before going off the road).”



Translation: “Oh, Barack, you placed too many complications on the [path] to the [nuclear] deal that it eventually came back to haunt us.”


Sina Azodi, a research assistant at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, contributed to this roundup.


Tags: Offbeat

Latest US Polls on Iran Deal

The following are key findings from recent polls asking Americans about negotiations with Iran over its controversial nuclear program. In most cases, the polls found that the majority of Americans support talks with Iran or, specifically, the blueprint for a deal announced on April 2.

Zogby Research Services

A poll by Zogby Research Services, commissioned by the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans, found that a plurality of American voters approve of the April 2 framework for a nuclear deal. The following are excerpted results from the poll conducted May 20 to 31, 2015.
Do you approve or disapprove of the P5+1 framework agreement with Iran designed to place limits on Iran's nuclear program?
Strongly Approve: 11 percent
Somewhat approve: 30 percent
Approve: 41 percent

Somewhat disapprove: 10 percent
Strongly disapprove: 13 percent
Disapprove: 23 percent
Not sure/Not enough information: 36 percent
Would you support or oppose legislation that would make an Iran agreement subject to congressional approval and oversight?
Strongly support: 22 percent
Somewhat support: 30 percent
Support: 52 percent
Somewhat oppose: 7 percent
Strongly oppose: 5 percent
Oppose: 13 percent
Not sure: 35 percent
Click here for the full results.

J Street Poll

On June 10, the pro-Israel group J Street released a poll showing that 59 percent of American Jews — slightly more than the general population* — support a deal with Iran that would lift sanctions in return for Tehran’s acceptance of restrictions on its nuclear program. The following are excerpted results from the survey conducted May 31 – June 3.
When Provided More Details, Support Grows
Now, imagine that the U.S., Britain, Germany, France, China, Russia, and Iran reach a final agreement that places significant limits on Iran's nuclear program to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
The agreement imposes intrusive inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities by international nuclear experts, and it caps the level at which Iran can enrich uranium to far below what is necessary to make a nuclear weapon. In exchange for limiting its nuclear program and agreeing to intrusive inspections, Iran would receive phased relief from U.S. and international economic sanctions, as Iran complies with the terms of the agreement.
Would you support or oppose this agreement?
Support: 78 percent total (including 26 percent who strongly support)
Oppose: 22 percent total (including 8 percent who strongly oppose)
Click here for more information.
*According to a CNN/ORC poll conducted in April 2015

AP-GfK Poll

A survey conducted by AP-GfK from April 23-27 found that a slight majority of Americans approve of the interim agreement reached by Iran and the world’s six major powers in late 2013. The following are key results:
Do you approve, disapprove, or neither approve nor disapprove of the preliminary agreement reached between Iran and six world powers that is designed to curb Iran’s nuclear program?
Total approve
54 percent
24 percent
 Lean approve
31 percent
Neither —don’t lean
1 percent
Total disapprove
43 percent
23 percent
 Lean disapprove
20 percent
Refused/Not answered
As you may know, as part of the preliminary deal Iran agreed to allow inspections of its nuclear facilities, ship plutonium out of the country and shut down almost half of its uranium enriching centrifuges. How confident are you that Iran will follow through with this agreement?
Extremely/very confident
3 percent
 Extremely confident
1 percent
 Very confident
2 percent
Moderately confident
25 percent
Not too/Not confident at all
69 percent
 Not too confident
34 percent
 Not confident at all
35 percent
Refused/Not answered
3 percent
Click here for the full results.
Quinnipiac University National Poll  
A majority of American voters support the blueprint for a nuclear deal, according to a new poll by Quinnipiac University conducted April 16-21. The following are key takeaways from the survey’s findings.
·  58 percent support the preliminary agreement with Iran to restrict that country’s program while 33 percent do not.
·  35 percent of voters are “very confident” or “somewhat confident” the agreement would prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, while 62 percent are "not so confident" or "not confident at all.”
·  Supporting the agreement are Democrats 76 - 15 percent and independent voters 60 - 33 percent, with Republicans opposed 56 - 37 percent. 
·  65 percent of voters support making any Iran agreement subject to congressional approval while 24 percent do not.
·  77 percent of voters back a negotiated settlement rather than military intervention to limit Iran’s nuclear program while 13 percent do not.
Click here for more information.


Suffolk University/USA TODAY Poll
A plurality of U.S. adults approve of the blueprint for a nuclear deal, according to a poll by Suffolk University and USA Today. The following are key results.
  • 46 percent approve of the deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program
  • 37 percent disapprove
  • 18 percent are undecided

Click here for more information.
Economist/YouGov Poll
A new Economist/YouGov poll found that most Americans support the nuclear talks with Iran. The survey, conducted April 4-6, found that 61 percent of respondents believe the United States should negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program.
But barely a quarter of respondents said they would trust Iran to adhere to an agreement.  
Support for the nuclear framework announced on April 2 varied along party lines. Among Democrats, 57 percent support the framework, but only 20 percent of Republicans support it.
Click here for more information on the poll
Reuters/Ipsos Poll
A new Reuters/Ipsos poll, conducted April 3-7, found that 36 percent of respondents support the preliminary nuclear deal between Iran and the world’s six major powers. When broken down by party, 30 percent of Republicans support the deal compared to 51 percent of Democrats.
Not sure
30 percent
30 percent
40 percent
51 percent
10 percent
39 percent
33 percent
21 percent
45 percent
The poll also found little support for using military force as the sole way to curb Iran's nulcear program. Only 5 percent of Democrats, 11 percent of Republicans, and 6 percent of Independents supported that approach.
Click here for more information on the poll
NBC News/SurveyMonkey Poll
A new NBC News/SurveyMonkey Poll, conducted April 6-8, found that the majority of Americans consider Iran’s nuclear program a “major threat.” More than 70 percent of Republicans gave that response, compared to just over 40 percent of Democrats.
Iran’s nuclear program is:
Major threat
53 percent
74 percent
41 percent
50 percent
Minor threat
37 percent
23 percent
47 percent
39 percent
Not a threat at all
8 percent
1 percent
11 percent
9 percent
Click here for more information on the poll


Americans United for Change/Hart Research Poll

A poll commissioned by Americans United for Change, conducted April 6-8, found that 65 percent believe Congress should allow the agreement to move forward and monitor its implementation, while 30 percent believe Congress should take action to block the deal before it is implemented.

Congress should:
Allow agreement to go forward and closely monitor implementation
65 percent
47 percent
82 percent
64 percent
Block the agreement now and prevent implementation
30 percent
48 percent
15 percent
27 percent
Click here for more information on the poll
Bloomberg Politics Poll
Americans are more or less split on whether or not they think the nuclear deal with Iran being negotiated would make the world safer by containing Tehran’s ability to obtain nuclear weapons, according to a new Bloomberg Politics poll conducted April 6-8.
“Last week, the U.S. and five other nations struck a tentative deal with Iran. It would lift sanctions that have damaged Iran's economy in exchange for extensive inspections of any nuclear activity in Iran. Final details will be formalized in June. Are you more optimistic or more pessimistic this deal would make the world safer by containing Iran's ability to obtain nuclear weapons?"
  • Optimistic: 49 percent
  • Pessimistic: 43 percent
  • Unsure: 8 percent
Click here for more information.


Tags: Reports

UN Report on Iran Sanctions & Interim Deal

Iran has implemented its commitments under the interim nuclear deal and worked with the U.N. nuclear watchdog to address outstanding questions about its controversial program, according to a new U.N. Security Council report released on June 9. The panel of experts tasked with monitoring sanctions on Iran also “received no report regarding violations of Security Council financial sanctions,” but noted evidence of attempting to conceal connections of financial transactions to the Islamic Republic.

The report also covered developments relevant to other Security Council resolutions apart from the interim nuclear deal. In some areas, discrepancies between media reports and lack of reporting by states to the panel were apparent. For example, “unlike every previous mandate, during the current mandate no transfers of conventional arms and related materiel by the Islamic Republic of Iran were reported to the Committee.” But the panel also noted media reports alleging Iranian military support and arms transfers to Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen, and to Hezbollah and Hamas.
Another example of lack of reporting was related to travel bans. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ elite Qods Force, has been banned from traveling outside of Iran in 2007 under resolution 1747. He, however, has been photographed extensively in Iraq and elsewhere in the region during the last year. And yet no U.N. member state reported a travel ban violation.
The report attributed the lack of reporting to two potential factors, a “decrease in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s prohibited activities and restraint on the part of Member States so as not to affect the [nuclear] negotiations process.”
Also on June 9, the U.N. Security Council voted to renew the mandate of the expert panel until July 2016. The following is a summary of the U.N. report with a link to the full text.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has complied with its safeguards obligations, implemented its commitments under the Joint Plan of Action, and worked with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Framework for Cooperation matters.
As part of the Joint Plan of Action, concomitant with IAEA confirmation that the Islamic Republic of Iran was fulfilling the “voluntary measures” agreed in this format, some unilateral sanctions have been suspended, providing limited relief to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s economy.
The Panel has not identified cases of procurement for activities prohibited under Security Council resolutions that occurred during the current mandate, nor have any such cases being reported by Member States.
However, the following developments have been noted in other areas covered by the Security Council resolutions, and not addressed in the Joint Plan of Action:
During the current mandate, the Islamic Republic of Iran has not launched or unveiled any new types of medium-range ballistic missiles. However, the Fajr satellite was launched by a Safir space launch vehicle and the Islamic Republic of Iran’s annual Great Prophet military exercise reportedly involved the Fateh 110 ballistic missile.
The Islamic Republic of Iran’s arms transfers have actively continued, as reflected in numerous media reports, raising concerns among some Member States. The Panel notes that no State has formally reported an actual case of non-compliance although one State has informed the Panel of an offer by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Travels to neighbouring countries of a prominent designated Iranian individual, amply covered by the media, have been duly noted by the Panel. Nevertheless, no violation of the travel ban as such has been formally reported to the Committee.
The Panel has observed that the private sector remains in compliance. Although many companies, in the expectation of increased commercial opportunities in the near future, are exploring possibilities, companies have limited themselves to preliminary understandings. This indicates that the private sector remains risk adverse, mindful of obligations and of reputation.
The overall lack of reporting is a distinctive feature of this mandate period. It might be linked, inter alia, to a decrease in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s prohibited activities and restraint on the part of Member States so as not to affect the negotiations process.
Given the ongoing negotiations, the Panel refrains from additional recommendations to those already proposed in the Panel’s previous final reports.
Click here for the full text.
Tags: Reports

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