Since the Obama administration’s announcement of a nuclear framework with Iran, America’s allies in the Middle East have voiced concerns that the deal offers far-reaching economic concessions to Tehran while doing little to reduce that regime’s basic nuclear infrastructure and capabilities. Israel and Saudi Arabia, in particular, question the wisdom of providing billions of dollars in near-term sanctions relief to an expansionist neighbor that already exerts effective control over four Arab capitals. And third-party governments throughout the region are obviously nervous about a plan whose best-case scenario involves the removal of all nuclear sanctions against Iran within 15 years — at most. What will be the consequences should such a plan take effect?
Will Middle Eastern powers like Saudi Arabia and Turkey feel impelled to initiate nuclear weapons programs of their own? With the borders of this turbulent region already in flux, how might the accord reconfigure the strategic map and domestic political dynamics of the Middle East? Will a further-empowered Iran improve — or restrict — America’s effectiveness as an honest regional broker and security guarantor in the future?
On Tuesday, May 26th, Hudson Institute and the Rabin Chair Forum of George Washington University hosted a lunchtime discussion about these and related questions surrounding the U.S.-Iranian “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA) — which the White House is expected to sign in late June — with Senior Fellow Lee Smith and Efraim Inbar, director of Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.