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

Relations with Iran: Questions to Consider

Spring 2016

With the successful implementation of the historic nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1, a new chapter has opened between Iran and the international community, including the United States. Nevertheless, the future path of bilateral relations between the United States and Iran is uncertain and many challenges exist as the two countries attempt to formulate new terms of engagement. What should U.S. policy be towards Iran after the nuclear agreement? Can the agree­ment open the door to effective collaboration on areas of mutual interest, especially given the rising security challenges and rapidly changing dynamics of the Middle East? Or, will strategic rivalries between Iran and the United States con­tinue to shape and impede cooperation?

To answer these and related questions, Harvard Belfer Center’s Iran Project hosted a luncheon on February 5 entitled “The Future of U.S.-Iran Relations: Rivalry or Engagement?” The speakers included two leading voices on Iranian and the Middle East affairs: Trita Parsi, presi­dent of the National Iranian American Council, and Michael Singh, manag­ing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The panel, moder­ated by the director of the Iran Project, Payam Mohseni, addressed bilateral relations between the United States and Iran and its broader regional implica­tions following the implementation of the nuclear agreement—the JCPOA.

With a full house for the off-the-record discussion, Parsi and Singh debated the relative merits of the Obama administration’s policies towards Iran and how seriously the United States should pursue a policy of engagement with Iran in the post-JCPOA context. An important topic of concern was American relations with its partners in the Middle East and what path the U.S. should take to allay Arab concerns over the rise of Iran. The speakers also discussed how the United States should prioritize its objectives in the Middle East, especially taking into consideration the increased turbulence in the region, and whether a new regional security architecture with the inclu­sion of Iran would be desirable. Singh and Parsi addressed, in particular, how U.S.-Iran dynamics bear on the Syrian crisis, ISIS, the Iran-Saudi cold war, and other important regional issues.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Relations with Iran: Questions to Consider.” Belfer Center Newsletter (Spring 2016).