• Strategic Comments

    Iran nuclear talks extended for four more months

    23 July 2014. 

    Deep differences over the allowable size of Iran's nuclear programme and how long restrictions on it should remain in place proved insurmountable in the latest round of negotiations. Iran and the six powers known as the E3+3 now have a further four months to determine whether they can summon the political will to bridge the gap.

  • Politics and Strategy

    Mark Fitzpatrick: Continue the Iran talks, but lock in a deal on Arak

    16 July 2014.  In a friendly Twitter debate this week, I was asked why I advocated rejecting an imperfect Iranian offer for a nuclear deal when the alternative – a return to escalation and probable conflict – is so dire. My answer was that there is a third option: to continue negotiations beyond the 20 July deadline. Indeed, that is the path that both Iran and the US now seem set on taking...

  • IISS Voices

    Dina Esfandiary: Iran and the question of ICBMs

    14 July 2014.  By Dina Esfandiary, Research Associate, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Programme A US Pentagon report from January 2014 (but only released in early July) seems to have revised earlier US intelligence assessments that Iran could test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) by 2015. Indeed, although Iran has an advanced missile programme, the state of its current industrial base, research and development, and decades of being under sanctions led the IISS to assess in...

  • Politics and Strategy

    Mark Fitzpatrick: Preventing Wars of Mass Destruction

    30 June 2014.  Next month marks the centenary of the outbreak of what was called the Great War, and once, the ‘war to end all wars’. It consumed about 15 million lives, including up to 1 million British citizens and left another 1.6 million British soldiers wounded. It did not end all wars, of course. A generation later, another global war commenced, this time killing four times as many, plus 20 million more in...

  • Politics and Strategy

    Mark Fitzpatrick: Russia’s solidarity with the West in the Iran nuclear talks

    26 June 2014.  Amid ongoing tensions over Ukraine, it is worth noting that Russia continues to cooperate closely with the West over Iran. Far from using the Iran issue to retaliate against US and European sanctions, as Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov ill-advisedly warned it might in mid-March, Russia has helped bolster the US position on the most sensitive aspect of the Iran negotiations: demands for cutbacks in the centrifuge programme. The most interesting...

  • Politics and Strategy

    Mark Fitzpatrick: Divining ‘bilats’ in Geneva

    12 June 2014.  By happenstance, I was in Geneva this week concurrent with the direct Iran–US talks that were taking place. The closest I got to the action was on Tuesday evening when I walked by the US mission apartment on Quai Wilson, where what I presumed to be members of the US delegation and their hangers-on were holding a soirée. Somebody who resembled Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns was in a...

  • Politics and Strategy

    Jeffrey Mazo: Legacies of war

    06 June 2014.  A few days ago, walking along the top of the sea cliff in Ventnor on the south coast of the Isle of Wight, I was startled to see a low-flying Second World War-era Spitfire making a pass over the town. Although there is a workshop on the island that rebuilds Spitfires from damaged airframes and salvaged parts – the only such workshop in the world – seeing one of these...

  • Strategic Comments

    North Korean lessons for an Iranian nuclear accord

    21 May 2014. 

    The history of diplomacy with North Korea has demonstrated the utility of freezing the momentum of a nuclear programme, even if only temporarily, and suggests that an imperfect deal with Iran could be preferable to one that insists on the dismantlement of most of its nuclear infrastructure but to which Tehran would never consent.

  • Politics and Strategy

    Mark Fitzpatrick: Agenda setting for a Helsinki Conference on a Middle East WMD-free zone

    14 May 2014.  In a busy month of non-proliferation diplomacy – an NPT-related confab in New York during the last two weeks; talks in Vienna this week on the Iran nuclear issue; consternation in The Hague over Syria’s failure to ship out its chemical weapons; and ongoing consultations elsewhere on how to respond if/when North Korea tests another nuclear device – one other quiet diplomatic discussion is taking place in Geneva today that...

  • IISS Voices

    Mark Fitzpatrick: Terrorism isn’t Pakistan’s gravest nuclear danger

    08 May 2014.  By Mark Fitzpatrick, Director, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Programme In addressing the recent nuclear security summit in The Hague, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif refuted the caricature often painted of his country as the poster child of nuclear terrorism. He insisted that ‘Pakistan has maintained a safe and secure nuclear programme for several decades’. It is true that Pakistan has experienced no nuclear thefts or seizures and no major nuclear accidents. It...

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