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The Iranian Nuclear Negotiations: A Washington Institute Backgrounder

Dennis Ross, Michael Singh, Michael Herzog, Michael Eisenstadt, Nima Gerami, Simon Henderson, and Olli Heinonen

Also available in العربية

November 10, 2014


Will Iran be able to build nuclear weapons?

The answer could be determined by the November 24 deadline for talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany (P5+1). The outcome has profound consequences for America and the Middle East.

Over the years, Washington Institute experts have offered U.S. policymakers in-depth research to clarify Iran's political and military positions. The following selection provides background on Iran's nuclear intentions and possible next steps.


How to Muddle Through with Iran by Dennis Ross












"The essence of the deal that has always made most sense -- a rollback of the Iranian nuclear program in return for a rollback of sanctions -- seems increasingly beyond reach. So a comprehensive deal by November 24 appears very unlikely." Read more

"For Israel the debate goes deeper than just the number of centrifuges or the amount of enriched uranium Iran can stockpile. It is a deep feeling that the P5+1 -- the West -- is more eager for the deal than Iran is." Read more

"Instead of pursuing the chimera of cooperation with the likes of Khamenei, Washington should contest all of Iran's regional assets. From the Shiite slums of Baghdad to the battlefields of Syria, Iran should be confronted with a new, inhospitable reality as it searches for partners." Read more

"A good deal with Iran is one that clearly advances U.S. interests -- not only the interest in nuclear nonproliferation globally, but in the stability of the Middle East and U.S. prestige and influence in the region." Read more

"A public airing of the potential consequences of Iran's nuclear program could alter the terms of debate and possibly encourage greater restraint within the Islamic Republic." Read more

"While the P5+1 negotiations focus on Iran's nuclear research program, the possible military dimensions (PMD) are being investigated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The Iranians may not satisfy the demands of IAEA investigators." Read more

"Notwithstanding partisan difficulties, seeking congressional endorsement is essential lest any agreement rest on a shaky foundation and be difficult to implement." Read more

The Institute and the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs copublished an interactive glossary of the complex terminology and history behind IAEA inspections, centrifuge enrichment, basic nuclear physics, and nuclear weapons development. Read more