- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center Newsletter

Iran: Insight and Thoughts on the Iran Nuclear Agreement

Graham Allison  Douglas Dillon Professor of Government 

“For all its flaws, the [Iran] nuclear agreement is the one major hurdle preventing Iran from becoming a second North Korea….Trump should talk directly to those who have the most to lose: the leaders of Israel’s national security establishment....If he does, he will discover that a vast majority believe that pulling out of the agreement will endanger America’s greatest friend and ally in the Middle East.” (WashPost 10/12/17)

Laura Holgate  Senior Fellow

“Unlike imaginary [claims of] Iranian HEU or imaginary U.S. laws, the risks of an Iranian nuclear program unconstrained by the limits and inspections agreed in the JCPOA are all too real.  Let’s keep the focus where it matters: making sure Iran continues to comply fully with its JCPOA commitments.” (Arms Control Wonk, 10/22/17)

Payam Mohseni  Director, Iran Project

“President Trump’s decertification of the JCPOA and uncompromising offensive against Iran undermines U.S. interests on multiple fronts: 1) it tarnishes U.S. international credibility and fragments U.S. allies on Iran; 2) it lends popular credence to Iran’s hardliners on American ill-intent and untrustworthiness within Iran; and 3) it negatively shapes Iranian elite decision-making on the nuclear program and future compromise with the West."

Gary Samore  Executive Director for Research, Belfer Center

“Obviously, President Trump’s bid to renegotiate the Iran nuclear deal is doomed to fail.  Iran is not going to accept tougher restrictions while we offer nothing in return.  None of the other parties to the agreement support renegotiation.  When it becomes clear that a better deal is not possible, Trump will face an unsavory choice: unilaterally re-impose U.S. sanctions, which would be foolish and self-defeating, or back down, which will damage his credibility.”

Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall  Senior Fellow

“President Obama deliberately directed his negotiators to focus on the exigent threat:  Iran’s proximity to nuclear “breakout” which was estimated at just a few months in 2015. The JPCOA successfully reversed and now constrains Iran’s nuclear program and provides for intrusive verification.  President Trump’s decision to decertify the agreement damages America’s credibility as a global  leader and puts the onus on the U.S. for undermining a deal that has already significantly advanced international security.” 

Ariane Tabatabai  Postdoctoral Fellow, International Security Program

“President Trump’s decision not to recertify the nuclear deal with Iran and kick the ball to Congress to decide its fate is the centerpiece of his emerging Iran policy, one that seems to be based on all sticks and no carrots. But with Iran active (and influential) in three critical theaters for the United States and its allies and the Persian Gulf, the United States must find a way to engage the Islamic Republic.”

William Tobey  Senior Fellow

“The Iran nuclear deal is deeply flawed. Its duration is too short, and it fails to require of Tehran the universally agreed-upon minimum for effective verification—a complete and correct declaration of all relevant activities. Nonetheless, it would be a mistake for the United States to end it, primarily because Iran has already reaped most of its benefits from the deal while ours accrue over time, and because doing so would deepen a fissure with our allies.”

Jon Wolfsthal  Associate, Managing the Atom

“President Trump’s actions risk unleashing a nuclear crisis when and where we can least afford one. And to no good end, since the JCPOA is working. Efforts to build on it would be welcome, but Trump’s approach will both increase the danger in the region and divide us from our closest allies.”

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

Iran: Insights and Thoughts on the Iran Nuclear Agreement, Belfer Center Newsletter, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School (Fall/Winter 2017-2018).


Graham Allison headshot

Gary Samore

Dr. Elizabeth D. Sherwood-Randall