"Like the president he now serves, Anton doesn't understand how the global trading order actually works. Trade agreements are long and complicated today because they are no longer primarily concerned with reducing tariffs (which are already quite low). Instead, contemporary trade agreements are mostly about harmonizing labor, regulatory, environmental, and copyright standards across many different societies, precisely for the purpose of creating fairer competition between states. Agreements of this kind are very much in America's interest, because otherwise U.S. workers would have to compete with foreign industries where labor and environmental standards are much lower than they are in the United States."
Diplomacy and nuclear issue
Construction formally started on site of Bushehr-2 nuclear power plant. (Tasnim News, 3/16)
Sanctions and Iran’s economy
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said Iran will keep its oil production cap at 3.8 million barrels per day in second half of 2017. (Reuters, 3/14)
Iran signed $1 billion deal to develop Mehdiabad, one of world’s largest zinc mines. Deal signed with consortium of six private companies. (Reuters, 3/13)
Iranian investment fund signed deal with South Korea’s Hyundai Engineering Co for $3.2 billion petrochemical project. It is awaiting financing by Korean banks. (Reuters, 3/12)
Iranian domestic politics
Late Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s daughter, Faezeh Hashemi, was sentenced for her remarks about the judiciary and Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. She was also imprisoned in 2012. (Reuters, 3/17)
Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi’s son, Mohammad Hossein Karroubi, was sentenced to six months. He released open letter from his father demanding to be put on trial after years of house arrest. (Reuters, 3/13)
Two Iranians were detained on spying charges. (AP, 3/15)
Two Iranians, man and woman, were sentenced to death on charges of founding a “cult” and promoting moral corruption. (Financial Times, 3/12)
Hawaiian federal judge issued sweeping freeze of President Trump’s new executive order hours before it would have temporarily barred issuance of new visas to citizens of six Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, and suspended admission of new refugees. Maryland federal judge issued second, narrower injunction. (Washington Post, 3/16)
Saudi Arabia hailed “historical turning point” in relations with U.S. after meeting between Trump and Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Both shared views on “danger of Iran’s regional expansionist activities.” (Reuters, 3/14)
Geopolitics and Iran
Syrian peace talks in Astana closed without any negotiations taking place. Rebels boycotted this week’s talks. Russia, Turkey, and Iran agreed to meet May 3 and 4. (Reuters, 3/15)
Iran signed document on joining Syrian War agreement in form of a guarantor country alongside Russia and Turkey. (Tehran Times, 3/15)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sent letter to Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah. This is further sign that both countries are trying to defuse tensions. (Reuters, 3/13)
However, Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid Al Jarallah said Kuwait, “look[s] forward to the day when we do not see any form of Iranian interference in our affairs.” (Gulf News, 3/16)
Saudi Arabia said Iranian pilgrims will participate in this year’s hajj. (AFP, 3/17)
Turkish Ambassador to Iran Riza Hakan Tekin accused Tehran of launching “smear campaigns” against Turkey. (Tehran Times, 3/14) Previously, Iranian Foreign Ministry urged its citizens to avoid making unnecessary trips to Turkey during Nowruz holidays. (Tehran Times, 3/13)
Israeli media circulated Kuwaiti media report that Iran had established rocket factories in Lebanon that were under full control of Hezbollah. Report came days after Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said Hezbollah was now capable of producing rockets that could hit any part of Israel. (Times of Israel, 3/13)
Turkish Ambassador to Israel Kemal Okem delivered speech in Israel where he said Iran’s “nuclear file is a concern for everyone.” (Jerusalem Post, 3/16)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of ignorance about history after Netanyahu said ancient Persian rulers tried to destroy Jews, comparing this historic situation to today. (AFP, 3/13)
The Iran Working Group was created to serve as a channel for internal discussions on the fundamental issues of the Iranian nuclear challenge. The project, which since summer 2013 has grown dramatically in size and scope, is co-chaired by Professor and Belfer Center Director Graham Allison and Belfer Center Iran Project Director and Fellow for Iran Studies Payam Mohseni. Working Group participants come from the Belfer Center, Harvard University, Brandeis University and MIT, and the group draws upon local expertise that spans nuclear physics and nuclear policy, negotiation strategy, economics, and Iranian politics.
Members of the Iran Working Group meet regularly to dissect the latest developments from the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the West and the economic impacts of international sanctions. The Working Group regularly hosts private, off-the-record discussions on Iran with distinguished scholars and practitioners in the field.
Iran Experts Group
For More Information
The Iran Project is dedicated to promoting the study of contemporary Iranian politics, particularly on issues that pertain to important challenges of international security, such as the Iranian nuclear program, US-Iran relations, and Iran’s role in the Middle East.
From its nuclear program and sponsorship of hostile state and non-state actors to its soft-power influence in the region, Iran has outsized abilities to shape events beyond its borders in a dramatic fashion. The Iran Project seeks to bring greater knowledge and analytic clarity to policy discussions on Iran as an important power in the Middle East region.
Dr. Payam Mohseni, the Director of the Iran Project, frequently travels to Iran to conduct research and is fluent in Persian. His work focuses on the internal policymaking process of the Iranian state, the dynamics of factional politics in post-revolutionary Iran, the political economy of development, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards. Mohseni also teaches Iranian and Middle East politics at Harvard’s Department of Government.
The mission of the Iran Project is threefold:
- To produce advanced, policy-relevant knowledge on salient issues of Iranian affairs
- To serve as a hub in a network that synergizes scholarly collaborations and intellectual discussions among Iran experts and analysts across the world
- To become a diplomatic bridge to advance dialogue between students and scholars in Iran and the United States, particularly for the Harvard University community, as well as to support the efforts of Iranian students and those involved in Iranian studies at Harvard University across disciplines
Research Focus Areas
- The Iranian nuclear program, implementation challenges for the JCPOA, and its implications for regional order
- Iranian domestic and foreign politics, elite factional dynamics, Iran’s role in the Middle East, sectarian conflict in the region, and Iranian soft power and ideology
- The Iranian economy, Iran’s business environment, its economic policymaking process, sanctions, and the country’s energy sector