For decades, Iran has vexed the international community. It introduced Islam as a form of governance in 1979 and has supported militants abroad and defied international norms. In May 2018, the Trump administration withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement negotiated by six world powers and Iran. The administration argued that the deal did not adequately curb Tehran’s nuclear program or address its missile program, human rights abuses, and support for terror. Washington reimposed sanctions as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign to change Tehran’s behavior. Tensions escalated in 2019 after the two nations shot down each other’s drones over the Persian Gulf and Iran was linked to attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities. In January 2020, Iran recalculated its strategy after a U.S. strike killed Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani.
As the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread in 2020, Iran became an early epicenter as it struggled to cope with thousands of cases across 31 provinces, further crippling its economy, which was already in recession because of U.S. sanctions.
The U.S. Institute of Peace aids policymakers’ thinking on Iran and provides a unique forum for virtual diplomacy in the absence of formal ties between Washington and Tehran. USIP convenes experts, briefs lawmakers, and presents comprehensive views of Iran’s internal politics and relationships with the rest of the world through unbiased, fact-based research and analysis. USIP’s recent work includes:
Educating Policymakers, Academics, and the Public
Reliable resources on Iran remain scarce, even as it increases as a global flashpoint. That dearth prompted USIP to convene 50 of the world’s top Iran scholars to contribute to the book, The Iran Primer: Power, Politics and U.S. Policy.
First published in 2010 and updated in 2015, the unprecedented project acts as a comprehensive guide to Iran’s politics, economy, military, foreign policy, and nuclear program. The book’s authors represent 20 think tanks, eight universities, and senior officials from six U.S. presidential administrations. The project has evolved, with new articles added consistently to the website IranPrimer.usip.org. In partnership with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Iran Primer website provides articles, data, timelines, rundowns of U.S. government actions, and other resources. The material has been cited, quoted, and republished in congressional testimony, college syllabi, and a variety of print and online publications.
USIP staff contribute their expertise on Iran to conferences and events, both domestically and abroad. They also provide analysis to media outlets to build the Institute’s reputation as a resource on Iran.
Through its focused research, USIP has become a leading source for timely Iran analysis. As a result, USIP experts periodically brief members of Congress, officials from the Pentagon and State Department, the intelligence community, and U.S. service academies.
The Institute builds relationships with think thanks, foreign affairs analysts, economists, youth and women’s rights activists, humanitarian groups, U.S. government agencies, congressional offices, and foreign diplomats. This enables USIP to foster dialogue on the latest political, economic, and social trends.