Iran

Backgrounder

Human Rights in Iran

Authors: Jayshree Bajoria and Robert McMahon

Global monitors say Iran's human rights situation is poor and unlikely to improve amid a climate of political uncertainty and growing external pressures. But activists urge continued international scrutiny of Iran's violations.

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The Iran Project: Strategic Options for Iran: Balancing Pressure with Diplomacy

Authors: William Luers, Priscilla Lewis, and Iris Bieri

"It is time for Washington to rebalance its dual-track policy toward Iran, strengthening the diplomatic track in order to seize the opportunity created by the pressure track. The United States should now dedicate as much energy and creativity to negotiating directly with Iran as it has to assembling a broad international coalition to pressure and isolate Iran. Only by taking such a rebalanced approach might the United States achieve its objectives with respect to Iran's nuclear program."

See more in Iran; Proliferation; Diplomacy and Statecraft

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What should U.S. policy toward Iran be in order to prevent further development of its nuclear program?

Asked by Aaron Marks, from Staten Island, New York

Since the discovery of illicit Iranian nuclear facilities in 2002, the United States has sought to mobilize an international coalition to address the Iranian nuclear challenge through various coercions and incentives. UN member states agree that Iran is entitled to a civilian nuclear program for purposes of energy generation, but they require assurances that such a program is not going to be misused for military purposes.

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See more in Arms Control, Disarmament, and Nonproliferation; Iran

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Does the presence of radical Islamic groups in the Syrian opposition affect Iran?

Asked by Bashayar Ghasab, from Eastern Mediterranean University, Cyprus

Yes and no. Because of sectarian differences between the Iranian government and the Sunni Salafi fighters in the Syrian opposition, Iran's influence becomes weakened at first sight if the Syrian opposition wins. But the Iranian regime can (and has) created common cause with Sunni radicals in the recent past. History shows that this would not be the first time an unlikely alliance between opposing groups has formed.

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See more in Iran; Syria; Radicalization and Extremism

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What should the red lines be for the Iranian nuclear program?

People love to talk about "red lines" for all sorts of challenges, and the Iranian nuclear program is no exception. The United States can, in principle, threaten stronger sanctions if Iran crosses certain red lines. It can threaten military action if Iran crosses others. But it's not clear that setting red lines—particularly in public, where failing to follow through on threats can be costly—is a productive course.

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