Does Ebrahim Raisi’s inauguration as Iran’s new president doom diplomatic efforts to constrain its nuclear program and pacify its regional behavior? U.S. officials had hoped that Iran’s supreme leader would direct President Hassan Rouhani to finalize a compliance-for-compliance deal during his final weeks in office to get sanctions relief for his successor. Instead, Iran paused negotiations until after Raisi took office on Aug. 5 and appointed key officials. Critics of the Iran nuclear deal argue that the victory of a repressive hardline cleric in an undemocratic election makes arms control with Iran more dangerous, and less necessary, than ever.
Surveys of Iranian public opinion by the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland suggest that both sides in this debate are making flawed assumptions about Iranian politics.
Originally published in War on the Rocks (August 2021)