Iran

A decade of diplomacy, sanctions and nuclear brinkmanship involving Iran and the UN Security Council’s five permanent members (plus Germany) led to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This accord 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 that country’s reintegration into the global economy. Despite the JCPOA’s successful first years, the U.S. withdrew from the deal in 2018, putting it at risk of collapse while raising the danger of conflict between Tehran, Washington and their respective allies. Through field research and high-level advocacy, Crisis Group focuses on salvaging the JCPOA and preventing regional tensions from boiling over.

CrisisWatch Iran

Deteriorated Situation

Authorities violently repressed nationwide protests ignited by death of young woman in police custody; talks to revive nuclear deal faltered once more.

Security forces’ crackdown on mass protests killed dozens. Morality police mid-month detained 22-year-old woman Mahsa Amini for failing to properly wear hijab (compulsory under Iranian law); Amini later died in hospital, allegedly out of severe injuries from police beating in custody. Death sparked widespread outrage and protests involving thousands in dozens of cities across country; security forces immediately responded with force, reportedly killing at least 40 protesters (and possibly dozens more), arresting hundreds and throttling nationwide internet access. Revolutionary Guards launched attacks against Kurdish dissident groups in northern Iraq, alleging role in unrest (see Iraq).

Nuclear negotiations appeared to stumble short of finish line, dashing hopes of imminent breakthrough. U.S. assessed Iran’s 1 Sept response following series of back-and-forth exchanges as “moving backwards”. EU High Representative Josep Borrell 14 Sept acknowledgeda kind of stalemate... I don’t have anything more to propose”; looming U.S. midterm elections could keep talks in holding pattern for foreseeable future, while Tehran’s demands to close International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards probe and have guarantees on sanctions relief likely to remain sticking points. Addressing IAEA Board of Governors on 12 Sept, Director General Rafael Grossi noted challenges in conducting oversight given curtailed access and reported no progress in clarifying safeguards concerns; 23 of board’s 25 members 14 Sept urged Tehran to “resolve all outstanding safeguards issues.

Tensions persisted between U.S. and Iran. Albania 7 Sept severed diplomatic ties with Iran over 15 July cyberattack; U.S. National Security Council same day blamed Iran for reckless and irresponsible act. U.S. 8 Sept blacklisted several Iranian individuals and companies engaged in development of drones and their transfer to Russia and 14 Sept designated dozen persons and entities linked to Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, citing “malicious cyber attacksIn response to crackdown of protests, U.S. 22 Sept sanctioned Morality Police and seven officials. U.S. Navy 2 Sept announced Iranian Navy ship seized and subsequently released pair of U.S. unmanned surface vessels, following similar incident late Aug.

Continue reading

In The News

15 Sep 2022
Russia and Iran are showing that they are not afraid to work together when it's in their interest. The National

Dina Esfandiary

Senior Advisor, Middle East and North Africa
2 Sep 2022
The negotiations [on the Iran nuclear deal] in the past few weeks could be summarized as one step forward, one step back. Bloomberg

Ali Vaez

Senior Adviser to the President & Project Director, Iran
18 Aug 2022
Those who have argued that no deal is better than the restored JCPOA have in practice unleashed Iran's nuclear program and failed to produce a better alternative. CNBC

Ali Vaez

Senior Adviser to the President & Project Director, Iran
13 Jun 2022
We are in a situation where for the first time . . . Iran has the ability to break out, have capacity to produce enough fissile material for a [nuclear] weapon, undetecte... Financial Times

Ali Vaez

Senior Adviser to the President & Project Director, Iran
9 Mar 2022
The Russia-Ukraine crisis has certainly cast a darker shadow [over the Vienna Talks] than it did a few days ago. The Hill

Naysan Rafati

Senior Analyst, Iran
2 Mar 2022
If the negotiators [on the Iran nuclear deal] fail to bridge the remaining gaps, the best fall back option is a moratorium that averts a perilous cycle of escalation. Bloomberg

Ali Vaez

Senior Adviser to the President & Project Director, Iran

Latest Updates

Our People

Ali Vaez

Senior Adviser to the President & Project Director, Iran
Ali Vaez

Naysan Rafati

Senior Analyst, Iran