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Iran

A decade of diplomacy, sanctions and nuclear brinkmanship involving Iran and the P5+1/E3+3 (the UN Security Council’s five permanent members plus Germany), led to the 14 July 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This enshrined a core compromise that Crisis Group had advocated since 2003: acceptance of a limited, tightly monitored uranium enrichment program in Iran in return for Iran’s reintegration into the global economy. Despite the JCPOA’s successful first years, tensions and risks of accidental confrontation are growing between the U.S. and Iran, as well as between Iran and U.S. regional allies. Through field research and high-level advocacy, Crisis Group focuses on preserving the JCPOA, and preventing regional tensions from boiling over and turning the nuclear accord into collateral damage.

CrisisWatch Iran

Deteriorated Situation

Tens of thousands protested against govt in several cities 28-31 Dec and clashes with security forces reportedly left at least thirteen protestors dead. Protests against price rises and economic stagnation in city of Mashhad 28 Dec spread to other towns and cities, with protestors criticising govt corruption and some calling for Supreme Leader Khamenei to step down. Crowds attacked state buildings in capital Tehran 30 Dec. President Rouhani 31 Dec said people had right to criticise authorities but warned govt would not tolerate those who use violence. U.S. President Trump expressed support for protestors and warned Tehran that “the world is watching”. U.S. Congress let pass 13 Dec deadline for re-imposing on Iran sanctions waived under July 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA); deadline triggered by U.S. President Trump’s 13 Oct non-certification of Iran’s compliance with nuclear deal. JCPOA Joint Commission members, including U.S., emphasised their commitment to deal in Vienna 13 Dec. U.S. House of Representatives 14 Dec passed bill requiring Treasury to “make certifications with respect to U.S. and foreign financial institutions’ aircraft-related transactions involving Iran”. Iranian officials 6 Dec denounced Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Iran rejected claims by U.S. ambassador to UN 14 Dec that Iran had provided military support to Yemeni Huthi rebels.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

13 Jan 2018
In a nutshell, what [the U.S. President Trump] is saying [to Europeans] is ‘Kill the [Iran's nuclear] deal with me or I’ll kill it alone'. Bloomberg

Robert Malley

President & CEO
12 Jan 2018
President Trump’s decision [to renew Iran's nuclear deal] leaves the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in the state of limbo it acquired shortly after his election. Newsweek

Ali Vaez

Project Director, Iran
11 Jan 2018
[U.S.] President [Trump] is [probably] going to once again decertify [Iran's nuclear deal] and continue to waive sanctions but at the same time slap new sanctions on Iran on non-nuclear issues. The Guardian

Ali Vaez

Project Director, Iran
11 Jan 2018
Iranian government's opponents will focus on [Ayatollah] Khamenei's self-critical statements and appointment to what was intended to be a caretaker position, as evidence of inter-regime wheeling. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Naysan Rafati

Analyst, Iran
10 Jan 2018
Without addressing the main drivers of these protests, the Iranian leaders are buying time until the next one. NBC

Ali Vaez

Project Director, Iran
5 Jan 2018
That the protests originated on 28 December in Mashhad, a bastion of [Iranian President] Rouhani's opponents and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's hometown, is highly significant. Voice of America

Ali Vaez

Project Director, Iran

Latest Updates

Iran’s Protests: Time to Reform

Without addressing head-on the drivers of the protests and pursuing popular reform, the Iranian leaders are only buying time until the next standoff between the state and the society.

Originally published in Open Democracy

Saving the Iran Nuclear Deal, Despite Trump's Decertification

President Trump’s decertification of the Iran nuclear deal is a blow to this multi-national accord, but need not be fatal. The U.S. Congress, Iran and the European co-signatories can still do much to save one of the great diplomatic achievements of the past decade.

Also available in فارسی

Qatar Punched Above Its Weight. Now It’s Paying the Price.

Doha has become a casualty of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates’ fights with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. But don’t expect a war.

Originally published in The New York Times

Also available in العربية

Iran’s Bipolar Election

Iranian voters have a real choice on 19 May between a president promising engagement with the West or one focused on the ideological purity of the Islamic Revolution. At the same time, both leading candidates are clerical insiders who support the continuation of Iran’s nuclear deal.

Our People

Ali Vaez

Project Director, Iran
AliVaez

Naysan Rafati

Analyst, Iran