The Great Debate

Why it’s impossible to hide nuclear work in 24 days – or 24 years

By Yousaf Butt
August 13, 2015
A scientist works at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) environmental sample laboratory in Seibersdorf

A scientist works at the International Atomic Energy Agency environmental sample laboratory in Seibersdorf, April 24, 2013REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

The issue that could bring Iran and Saudi Arabia to the negotiating table

By Mark Fitzpatrick and Jacqueline Shire
May 15, 2015
Obama hosts working session of six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council at Camp David in Maryland

President Barack Obama hosts a working session of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council at Camp David in Maryland, May 14, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

A good deal: How both sides can sell the Iran nuclear agreement back home

By Ali Vaez
April 3, 2015
U.S. Secretary of State Kerry and Iran's Foreign Minister Zarif pose for a photograph before resuming talks over Iran's nuclear programme in Lausanne

Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif pose before resuming talks in Lausanne, March 16, 2015. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The IAEA can’t guarantee any nuclear program is peaceful

By Yousaf Butt
January 8, 2015

An Iranian operator monitors the nuclear power plant unit in Bushehr

Having failed to reach an agreement on a comprehensive nuclear accord in November, Tehran and the six world powers set a new deadline — July 1, 2015. The diplomats are to meet again on Jan. 18, though prospects for a rapid breakthrough remain thin. One big roadblock is that the International Atomic Energy Agency has set for itself the impossible goal of verifying the “purely peaceful” nature of Iran’s nuclear program.

Getting to ‘yes’ on the Iran nuclear deal

By Greg Thielmann
July 16, 2014

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif addresses the media during a news conference in Vienna

Iran’s past nuclear efforts are among the many thorny issues in the continuing Iran nuclear talks. But focusing on the past is a mistake. Instead of insisting on knowing all about what Iran’s nuclear program looked like 10 years ago, the United States and its allies should focus on preventing Tehran from building a nuclear weapon in the future.

Is Iran being victimized by sanctions it doesn’t deserve?

By Yousaf Butt
June 20, 2014

A security official stands in front of the Bushehr nuclear reactor

Iranian officials met this week with their six-power counterparts to try to hammer out the outlines of a comprehensive nuclear deal set to last for several years. But its precise duration remains undecided.

IAEA conduct complicates Iran nuclear deal

By Yousaf Butt
February 22, 2014

The world powers in November reached an interim deal with Iran to freeze and even roll back a portion of its nuclear program in exchange for some sanctions relief. The arrangement went into effect on Jan. 20 and is set to expire in six months. Another interim deal may be signed then, according to the agreement’s “Joint Plan of Action,” but the proposal calls for a comprehensive long-term solution by late January, 2015.

Danger and delay on dirty bombs

By Kenneth N. Luongo
December 16, 2013

When highly radioactive material that can be used in a “dirty bomb” is moved to or from a hospital in New York City, it is done in the dead of night on cordoned streets with high security.

Broaden the peace process with Iran

By Daniel Serwer
November 20, 2013


High-level Geneva talks with Iran adjourned November 11 without reaching an agreement. Lower-level talks are to scheduled to reconvene Wednesday. The Western objective is a pause in Iran’s nuclear program — stopping the clock and allowing more time to reach a permanent agreement.

IAEA and Iran: Resolving the nuclear impasse

By Bennett Ramberg
September 25, 2013

President Hassan Rouhani generated a positive buzz yesterday with his United Nations General Assembly statements about Iran’s determination to resolve the nuclear impasse with the international community. Though he argued Tehran was not prepared to give up its enrichment program, the new president declared “nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction have no place in Iran’s security,” adding that his government was now committed to “time-bound and result-oriented talks to build mutual confidence and removal of mutual uncertainties with full transparency” to resolve any doubts.