Robert S. Litwak is Senior Vice President and Director of International Studies at the Woodrow Wilson Center.
European diplomats expressed frustration and concern that Iran backtracked on its earlier proposals in the diplomacy to get Tehran and Washington into full compliance with the 2015 nuclear accord. “Tehran is walking back almost all of the difficult compromises crafted after many months of hard work,” British, French and German diplomats said on December 3.
On December 7, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on 15 individuals and entities in Iran, Syria and Uganda for repressing peaceful protestors, political opponents and innocent civilians. “Ahead of this week’s Summit for Democracy, Treasury is targeting over a dozen government officials across three countries in connection with serious human rights abuse that undermines democracy,” said Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control Andrea M. Gacki.
U.S. officials expressed frustration that Iran returned to nuclear diplomacy by rolling back compromises previously floated and demanding more concessions on U.S. sanctions. After a hiatus of five months, the world’s six major powers reconvened in Vienna to negotiate a return to the historic 2015 nuclear deal by both Iran and the United States. The seventh round was held from November 29 to December 3, but Iran still refused to negotiate directly with U.S. envoy Rob Malley or his team.
On the eve of resumed nuclear diplomacy, Iran refused to cooperate with the U.N. watchdog agency responsible for monitoring its nuclear program.
Davenport is the Director for Nonproliferation Policy at the Arms Control Association (ACA). Masterson, who contributed to the original article, was a research associate at ACA until March 2022.
On November 24, the independent group of global leaders called The Elders urged Iran and the world’s six major powers to “show courageous leadership and a willingness to compromise” in talks on restoring the 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran has made maximalist demands ahead of nuclear talks with the world’s six major powers scheduled for November 29. Iran expects the United States to “recognize its fault in ditching” the 2015 deal, lift all U.S. sanctions imposed after the withdrawal in one go, and guarantee that no other U.S. administration will renege on the agreement, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said on November 8.
Iran tested a wide variety of weapons, including cruise missiles, torpedoes and suicide drones, during an annual war game between November 7 and 9. The Zolfaghar-1400 exercise, named for Imam Ali’s sword, was held around four key waterways – the Strait of Hormuz, the Sea of Oman, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean – an area totaling more than 386,000 square miles (1 million square kilometers).
Since 2003, Iranian influence has deepened in Iraq through a wide array of Shiite militias. Several militia leaders and politicians spent years in exile in Tehran during Saddam Hussein’s reign in the 1980s and 1990s. One of Iraq’s most powerful armed groups, the Badr Organization, was formed in 1982 by Iraqi exiles to fight Hussein with the support of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).