Middle East and North Africa


Media Call: Iran Nuclear Agreement

Speaker: Philip Gordon
Presider: Deborah Susan Amos

Iran and six nations led by the United States reached a historic agreement on July 14, 2015, that will limit Tehran's nuclear capacity for more than a decade in return for lifting international economic sanctions. Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Philip Gordon assesses the deal's implications for U.S.-Iran relations and Iran's role in the international community.

See more in Iran; United States; Nonproliferation, Arms Control, and Disarmament; Nuclear Energy


Living With the Iran Nuclear Deal

Author: Richard N. Haass
Project Syndicate

 A bigger problem has received much less attention: the risk of what will happen if Iran does comply with the agreement. Even without violating the accord, Iran can position itself to break out of nuclear constraints when the agreement’s critical provisions expire. At that point, there will be little to hold it back except the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, a voluntary agreement that does not include penalties for non-compliance

See more in United States; Iran; Treaties and Agreements

Primary Sources

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran's Nuclear Program

In July 2015, foreign ministers from China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States (E3/EU+3) met with the foreign minister of Iran in Vienna to negotiate the text of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), developed in April 2015. On July 14, the foreign ministers agreed to the plan, which involves limitations on Iran’s nuclear program and lifting of some United Nations Security Council and other multilateral and national sanctions on Iran related to its nuclear program. The JCPOA includes a main text and annexes on nuclear, sanctions, civil nuclear energy cooperation, a joint commission, and implementation.

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


Suppose Iran Doesn’t Cheat but Abides by a Nuclear Deal. What Then?

Author: Stephen Sestanovich
Wall Street Journal

If an Iran nuclear deal is reached, there are three areas of debate: the deal would disarm the U.S. psychologically; the Iranians might cheat; and the Iranians comply. If Iran does abide by the agreement, the Obama administration could respond in two ways—intrusive inspections, or does not fully accept the agreement.

See more in Iran; United States; Treaties and Agreements


The Unavoidable Contradiction in Striking a Nuclear Deal With Iran

Author: Ray Takeyh
Wall Street Journal

The U.S. and Iran are struggling to conclude what could be one of the most permissive arms-control agreements in history. Defenders of a deal insist that the U.S. could still hold Iran accountable for its pernicious policies, regardless of an accord. Such assurances miss the point that maintenance of an arms-control agreement is inconsistent with a coercive policy.

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The Payoff for Iran

Author: Ray Takeyh
Washington Post

The massive financial gains from a nuclear deal would enable Iran’s imperial ambitions in a fracturing Middle East, writes CFR’s Ray Takeyh. At the same time, the Islamic Republic would invest the money in consolidating the power of a repressive regime.

See more in Iran; United States; Treaties and Agreements


The Iran Endgame

Author: Philip Gordon

In an article for Politico, Philip Gordon discusses the difficult issues that remain to be resolved in the negotiations with Iran as the June 30 deadline approaches. He argues the United States and its partners must stand firm on key principles and spells out what they need – and do not need – for an agreement that serves U.S. national interests.

See more in Iran; United States; Diplomacy and Statecraft; Treaties and Agreements


Evaluating Key Components of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran

Author: Ray Takeyh

In his testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Ray Takeyh argues that before the impending nuclear agreement with Iran places Tehran inches away from the bomb, the United States should insist on additional parameters to assure that the deal will be an advantageous one for the international community.

See more in Iran; Weapons of Mass Destruction; Nonproliferation, Arms Control, and Disarmament


Washington's Egypt Dilemma

Michele Dunne interviewed by Zachary Laub

Two years since the Egyptian military deposed President Mohammed Morsi, human rights abuses are being committed at an unprecedented level, but the United States remains deeply invested in maintaining military ties with the country, says expert Michele Dunne.

See more in Egypt; Diplomacy and Statecraft

Foreign Affairs Article

The Death and Life of the Two-State Solution

Authors: Grant Rumley and Amir Tibon

On March 17, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won reelection, thanks in part to a desperate last-minute pledge to his right-wing base that the Palestinians would never get a state so long as he was in power. After the election, he tried to walk his comments back, but Palestinian observers weren’t buying it. 

See more in Palestine; Wars and Warfare

Foreign Affairs Article

From Calvin to the Caliphate

Author: John M. Owen, IV

Nearly a century after it first emerged in Egypt, political Islam is redefining the Muslim world. Also called Islamism, this potent ideology holds that the billion-strong global Muslim community would be free and great if only it were pious—that is, if Muslims lived under state-enforced Islamic law, or sharia, as they have done for most of Islamic history.

See more in Middle East and North Africa; Europe; Religion