Middle East & North Africa

182 Items

Iran's heavy water nuclear facility

AP Photo/ISNA/Hamid Foroutan

Iran's Secret Nuclear Documents

| Spring 2019

In mid-January, a team of scholars from the Belfer Center’s Intelligence and Managing the Atom Projects traveled to Tel Aviv, Israel to examine samples of, and receive briefings on, an archive of documents related to Iran’s nuclear weapons program that a clandestine Israeli intelligence operation spirited out of Iran in early 2018. The Belfer team’s forthcoming report will explore both the conclusions that can be drawn and the mysteries that remain.

The head of Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, speaks in a conference called "A World Without Terror," in Tehran, Iran on Oct. 31, 2017. Jafari said that the country's supreme leader has limited the range of ballistic missiles it makes (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi).

AP Photo/Vahid Salemi

Analysis & Opinions - The National Interest

How to Stop Iran's Missile Program

| Dec. 10, 2017

Just four weeks ago, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s commander, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, told the Associated Press that Tehran was imposing a 1,242-mile range limit on its surface-to-surface ballistic missiles. Although lax (all of Israel’s bases, and most of America’s in the Gulf and Middle East, fall within this range), this limit should be seen as a start. The question now is how much further might the United States and other like-minded countries be able to push Iran to impose tighter controls.

Reactor Building of the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant

AP Photo/Mehr News Agency/Majid Asgaripour

Journal Article - Afkar/Ideas

Nuclear Energy in the Middle East? Regional Security Cooperation Needed

| Spring 2017

Nuclear power in the Middle East has appeared poised for dramatic growth for more than a decade.  Iran’s nuclear power plant at Bushehr, the first of its kind in the Middle East, began producing electricity in 2011. Tehran has plans or proposals for additional 11 reactors, according to the World Nuclear Association. Saudi Arabia has announced plans to build 16 nuclear power reactors by 2040. The UAE has four nuclear power reactors under construction, the first of which is expected to come online later this year.  Egypt, Turkey, and Jordan, are each pursuing the development nuclear energy at their own pace.  The appearance of activity is impressive. 

teaser image

Analysis & Opinions - Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Iran’s Missile Tests Reveal Weaknesses of UN Security Council Resolution

| Feb. 08, 2017

Iran’s latest missile test on January 29 received a swift response, as warranted. The United Nations Security Council called for an emergency session, and on February 2, the U.S. Treasury imposed new sanctions on persons and entities involved with Tehran’s ballistic missile program. Iran responded equally swiftly. An Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander proclaimed that a separate, large-scale military missile exercise underway in Semnan province was intended to “showcase the power of Iran’s revolution and to dismiss the sanctions.” Officials in Iran have vowed to continue testing ballistic missiles and dismissed claims that its program is a cover to develop long-range projectiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The United States and its allies should demand that Tehran uphold its obligation not to conduct tests of nuclear-capable ballistic or cruise missiles.

Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant

AP

Analysis & Opinions - Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Ensuring Iran’s Enrichment R&D is for Peaceful Purposes

| January 26, 2017

Iran announced last week that it would start feeding its first IR-8 centrifuges with uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6). The 2015 Iran nuclear deal states that Tehran’s breakout time (the time needed to enrich uranium enough for a nuclear bomb) is one year, but that is based on Iran only using the first-generation, less-efficient IR-1 centrifuges. With more powerful IR-8s and other advanced centrifuges, Iran could enrich uranium for a weapon much faster. In three to four years, the country could be able to deploy large numbers of advanced centrifuges – if it can convince the international community that its nuclear program is peaceful and that it should be treated like any other nation, without restriction on its nuclear and enrichment activities.

Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Policy

5 Burning Nuclear Problems on Trump’s Desk

| Jan. 25, 2017

Nuclear weapons remain the most powerful weapons on the planet and how President Donald Trump’s team manages nuclear issues is critical to our security. These are hard challenges; none were perfectly addressed under President Obama’s leadership. But we made them a priority from day one. Whether or not the new team puts them at the top of the to-do list, here are five issues that will demand their attention before too long.

Rouhani

Russia President

Blog Post - Iran Matters

A Possible Trump Administration’s Iran Policy: Constraints and Options

    Author:
  • Ephraim Kam
| Jan. 20, 2017

A key foreign affairs issue for the Trump administration will be its policy on Iran, as was the case also for the Obama administration. But we have no idea what approach it will take, an uncertainty amplified by the fact that Trump has no experience whatsoever in foreign policy, and no idea whose input he will accept in shaping it. It’s not as if we have no information about his attitude – during the election campaign, Trump made his intention on Iran very clear – but, as with other topics, it is unclear how he will act when once he is forced to translate his intentions into action and realizes that reality is far more complicated than he imagined.

Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant

Wikimedia Commons

Policy Brief - Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Iran Stockpiling Uranium Far Above Current Needs

| January 10, 2017

In a televised speech on January 1, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Tehran had imported 200 metric tons of yellowcake uranium and would import another 120 tons at an unspecified future date. The imports are permitted by the nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but nonetheless significantly exceed Iran’s needs for natural (that is, unenriched) uranium over the next 15 years. Iran’s import of such high levels of uranium suggests it may be stockpiling uranium to reach nuclear breakout before the deal’s initial limitations expire in 2031.

The JCPOA permits Iran to buy natural uranium to “replenish” its stocks as it sells enriched uranium on the international market. To date, Iran has had difficulties locating a buyer for its enriched uranium stocks – unsurprising, given the current excess of commercially available enriched uranium. This, however, has not stopped Iran from buying and stockpiling more yellowcake.

Iranian Moves Offer Opportunity to Improve JCPOA

Iran Talks

Analysis & Opinions - Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Iranian Moves Offer Opportunity to Improve JCPOA

| December 23, 2016

Congress extended the Iran Sanctions Act earlier this month, prompting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to order retaliatory steps.  Tehran protested to the EU,  claiming the extension is a violation of last summer’s nuclear deal – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA – and requesting a meeting of the joint committee  established to settle disputes over the deal’s implementation. Based on Rouhani’s same directive, Iran has also ordered its scientists to develop a plan to design and manufacture a nuclear-propulsion system and fuel for marine transportation.