In 2010, USIP and the Woodrow Wilson Center launched “The Iran Primer”—an original book and regularly updated website—to provide resources and education about Iran, which has been one of the thorniest foreign policy issues for the United States since 1979.

The website continues to cover Iran’s domestic politics and foreign relations, the economy, the military, its nuclear and missile programs, and U.S. policy. The project’s goal is to help develop a better understanding of the challenges Iran poses and reduce the likelihood of violent conflict. Featuring book chapters and articles by more than 80 leading experts from 20 think tanks, eight universities, and six U.S. administrations, it has become a comprehensive source for data and analysis on the Islamic Republic of Iran.

For Americans, Iran is one of the least understood countries in the world. Relations have been cut off since shortly after the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy. By 2010, the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program sparked deep debates on policy—and the possibi lity of war. But few resources offered hard information, thoughtful analysis, and historic context that could be useful for both policymakers and the public.  

About The Iran Primer

Provide objective information and analysis

The team continuously updates The Iran Primer website with new articles. Staff conduct original research and produce fresh perspectives, with outside experts also providing analysis.

Contribute to the national conversation on foreign policy issues

Staff members contribute expertise at conferences and events at home and abroad. They also provide analysis to the media and brief members of Congress and their staff, officials from the Pentagon and State Department, the intelligence community, and U.S. service academies.

Foster dialogue on the Middle East’s latest political, economic and social trends

The team builds relationships with U.S. government agencies, congressional offices, and foreign diplomats, as well as think thanks, foreign affairs analysts, economists, and youth and women’s rights activists. The program also hosts public events on the evolving trends.

Featured Resources

Latest Publications

Possible Russian Nuclear Deployments to Belarus Could Shift Europe’s Nuclear Balance

Possible Russian Nuclear Deployments to Belarus Could Shift Europe’s Nuclear Balance

Thursday, June 30, 2022

By: John Drennan

During a meeting with his Belarusian counterpart on June 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin indicated that “within the next several months,” Russia intends to transfer Iskander-M missiles — which can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads — to Belarus and begin upgrading Belarusian Su-25 fighters to carry nuclear weapons. Most of the details of the deal remain unknown or to be determined. But should Putin’s promise turn out to be more than nuclear bluster — something Putin and other Russian officials have resorted to since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine — the deployment could remake the nuclear balance in Europe and increase the risk of a potential NATO-Russia conflict occurring.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

In Africa, Putin’s War on Ukraine Drives Food, Fuel and Finance Crises

In Africa, Putin’s War on Ukraine Drives Food, Fuel and Finance Crises

Thursday, June 30, 2022

By: Edward A. Burrier

Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked war on Ukraine has unleashed a wave of destruction and atrocities against its brave people. But the suffering and instability are not contained to Europe. Indeed, a continent away, Putin’s war has unleashed a “three-headed hydra” of food, energy and finance shortages in Africa, further threatening vulnerable Africans and putting dozens of countries at risk of default. Recognizing the need to tackle food insecurity, the Group of Seven (G-7) countries pledged billions more in assistance this week. But will it be enough given the severity of these challenges?

Type: Analysis and Commentary

EconomicsGlobal Policy

Back to the Basics: Fixing the Americas’ Polarized Media Landscape

Back to the Basics: Fixing the Americas’ Polarized Media Landscape

Thursday, June 30, 2022

By: John Feeley

The recent Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles underscored that the Western Hemisphere faces several crises. Climate change threatens tens of millions of Americans throughout the hemisphere. Democracy, once the unquestioned standard of regional governance as recently as 1994 when it was celebrated at the inaugural Miami Summit of the Americas, is also in crisis. In fact, it became the unfortunate story of the summit: who was invited and who wasn’t. Regardless of which side of the democratic inclusion summit debate one adopts, democratic backsliding and the rise in autocratic governance like in Mexico, El Salvador and Brazil — to say nothing of the extinction of democracy in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela — represents a worrisome reality that goes beyond the traditional left- versus right-wing paradigm.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

Despite Ukraine Focus, Asia-Pacific to Play Prominent Role at NATO Summit

Despite Ukraine Focus, Asia-Pacific to Play Prominent Role at NATO Summit

Monday, June 27, 2022

By: Mirna Galic

NATO countries meet this week in Madrid, Spain amid Russia’s war on Ukraine, the biggest test the alliance has faced in decades. The summit is expected to focus heavily on demonstrating NATO’s unity, support for Ukraine and the bids of Finland and Sweden — propelled by Russia’s aggressive incursion — to join the alliance. But developments in the Asia-Pacific, chiefly the rise of China, will also be a top item on the agenda, with Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea participating at the leader level for the first time at a NATO summit.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

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