Iranian Nuclear Program
Nearly two hundred flights have taken off from airfields in the Islamic Republic of Iran to land in Syria since the Iran nuclear deal was announced one year ago, according to publicly available flight-tracking data. These commercial aircraft have almost certainly been ferrying troops and arms that, in conjunction with Russian air strikes and the deployment of thousands of Iranian forces, have staved off defeat for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry submitted its first quarterly report on the nuclear agreement’s implementation to Parliament on April 17.
The Justice Department’s indictment of seven Iranian hackers for a “coordinated cyber assault” against 46 major financial institutions and a New York dam on March 24 was a good symbolic gesture, even though there is no measurable chance that any real action against the Iranian attackers will result. Many of the details in the indictment are not particularly surprising, however. The Islamic Republic has conducted an extensive, aggressive, and well-documented cyber campaign targeting U.S.
The Iranian government’s process for approving the nuclear deal reveals a great deal about its interpretation of the agreement; it also provided insight into the future of Iranian domestic politics. The fight over approving the deal was a pivotal moment in President Hassan Rouhani’s battle to retain and strengthen his position against his political adversaries. It is far from clear whether he has gained or lost from it, and the game is still in play.
Translated by Jordan Olmstead and Paul Bucala and edited with commentary by Frederick W. Kagan
Section A: Synopsis and General Points of the Report
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei conditionally approved the implementation of the nuclear deal in a letter addressed to President Hassan Rouhani on October 21. Khamenei warned against U.S. deception and called for the complete removal of sanctions as well as the creation of a committee to monitor the deal’s implementation. The full text of the letter states:
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
The Honorable Mr. Rouhani
The Iranian parliament approved “The Proportional and Reciprocal Plan of Action for the Implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)” on October 13. The resolution restates Iranian positions on implementing the JCPOA within the contours of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s stated redlines, warning that “any type of action on the basis of pressure or threat” could result in Iran’s reconsideration of the JCPOA.