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"I salute the Arms Control Association … for its keen vision of the goals ahead and for its many efforts to identify and to promote practical measures that are so vitally needed to achieve them."

– Amb. Nobuyasu Abe
Former UN Undersecretary General for Disarmament Affairs
January 28, 2004
Julia Masterson

IAEA Report on Iran Raises Serious Concerns About Monitoring

The most recent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iran’s nuclear program paints a bleak picture of the agency’s current ability to monitor Tehran’s nuclear activities and the new Iranian government’s willingness to cooperate with the agency. Newly inaugurated Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi may think intransigence and ambiguity over the status of Iran’s nuclear program will build leverage in negotiations to bring Tehran and Washington back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal—which would reimpose on Iran the most stringent monitoring regime ever negotiated—but his...

IAEA Report on Iran Raises Serious Concerns About Monitoring

The most recent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iran’s nuclear program paints a bleak picture of the agency’s current ability to monitor Tehran’s nuclear activities and the new Iranian government’s willingness to cooperate with the agency. Newly inaugurated Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi may think intransigence and ambiguity over the status of Iran’s nuclear program will build leverage in negotiations to bring Tehran and Washington back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal—which would reimpose on Iran the most stringent monitoring regime ever negotiated—but his...

New Chinese Missile Silo Fields Discovered


September 2021
By Shannon Bugos and Julia Masterson

China is constructing at least 250 new long-range missile silos at as many as three locations, fueling concerns that it aims to substantially expand its nuclear weapons arsenal. Beijing’s rapid nuclear buildup, recently revealed through open-source intelligence analysis, could significantly impact the Biden administration’s Nuclear Posture Review and arms control and strategic stability talks between the United States and Russia.

Yumen in northwestern China is among three locations where the Beijing government is constructing at least 250 new long-range missile silos. (Image: Planet Labs Inc. / Analysis: MIIS James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies)U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed his concern with the “rapid growth” of China’s nuclear arsenal at an Aug. 6 meeting of foreign ministers at the ASEAN Regional Forum. He said this dramatic expansion indicates a sharp deviation from Beijing’s “decades-old nuclear strategy based on minimum deterrence,” according to a readout of the meeting by State Department spokesman Ned Price.

Adm. Charles Richard, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, called the development a “strategic breakout” by China. “The explosive growth and modernization of its nuclear and conventional forces can only be what I describe as breathtaking, and frankly, the word ‘breathtaking’ may not be enough,” he told the Space & Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, Ala., on Aug. 12.

China has yet to officially respond to the discovery of two new missile silo sites at Yumen and Hami in northwestern China in June and a potential third in Inner Mongolia in July. The Chinese Foreign Ministry told the Associated Press on July 30 that, with respect to reports about the Hami site, it was not aware of the situation.

China’s nuclear stockpile remains small in comparison to those of the United States and Russia and only grew by an estimated 30 warheads, to 350, between 2020 and 2021, according to a June 2021 report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The U.S. Defense Department’s 2020 military power report on China was more conservative, putting China’s nuclear warhead stockpile in the low 200s. (See ACT, October 2020.) Beijing currently has an estimated 20 silos for liquid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

Comparatively, the United States and Russia are believed to have nuclear stockpiles of about 4,000 warheads each.

Republicans in Congress said that the recent revelations confirmed reports during the Trump administration that China was speeding its nuclear buildup and that Beijing’s actions demand an accelerated modernization of the U.S. nuclear deterrent. Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), ranking member on the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, called China’s nuclear buildup “unprecedented” and suggested that China is “deploying nuclear weapons to threaten the United States and our allies.”

China’s nuclear posture has long been one of minimum nuclear deterrence, aimed at maintaining a small but technically sophisticated arsenal capable of a second-strike. Beijing has long asserted that it adheres to a no-first-use policy, meaning that it would only use nuclear weapons in retaliation for a first strike.

But the discovery of new missile silos provides some evidence for the claims made during the Trump administration that China aims to substantially expand the size of its nuclear arsenal in the coming years. In May 2019, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley Jr. predicted that, “over the next decade, China is likely to at least double the size of its nuclear stockpile in the course of implementing the most rapid expansion and diversification of its nuclear arsenal in China’s history.”

In April 2021, Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, Ashley’s successor, shared his assessment that China is well poised to exceed that estimate. “China probably seeks to narrow, match, or in some places exceed U.S. qualitative equivalency with new nuclear warheads and their delivery platforms,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee in a briefing on the annual worldwide threat assessment.

At the new missile silo fields at Yumen and Hami, which are located roughly 236 miles apart, Beijing has 229 missile silos under construction. Each site features silos placed about two miles apart in a grid-like pattern, spanning an area of about 300 square miles. The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies first identified the construction of an estimated 119 silos at the Yumen site, as reported by The Washington Post on June 30.

On July 26, the Federation of American Scientists announced its discovery of an additional 110 missile silos outside of Hami, on which construction had begun in March 2021. “The silo construction at Yumen and Hami constitutes the most significant expansion of the Chinese nuclear arsenal ever,” wrote Matt Korda and Hans Kristensen.

A potential third site, at Hanggin Banner, Inner Mongolia, was disclosed in a report on Aug. 12 that revealed construction of a silo field similar to those found at Yumen and Hami. According to Air University’s China Aerospace Studies Institute, a U.S. Air Force education institute that publicized the location, satellite imagery indicates construction of at least 29 new silos, 13 of which have dome shelters.

Experts suggest that China’s DF-41, a solid-fueled ICBM capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads, may be destined for the silos at the new sites. It is uncertain, however, whether Beijing plans to fill every silo with a missile and how many warheads each missile will carry.

“Just because you build the silos doesn’t mean you have to fill them all with missiles,” Vipin Narang, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor, told The New York Times on July 26. “They can move them around.”

Employing such a shell-game strategy could be one of China’s motivations for constructing new missile silos. Alternatively, as suggested by Tong Zhao of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, leaders in Beijing may have adjusted their calculus to determine that “a bigger arsenal would make the country’s rivals respect China and exercise more self-restraint when dealing with Beijing.”

Although China once prioritized a sophisticated but small nuclear arsenal, Zhao suggests that recent evidence indicates Beijing “has become more willing to invest in quantity, in addition to its traditional focus on [the] quality” of its nuclear forces.

Caitlin Talmadge, an expert on Chinese nuclear issues at Georgetown University, shared her assessment July 1 on Twitter that “China is working hard to entrench [the United States] in a deeper state of mutual vulnerability” through its nuclear buildup.

“Beijing has a good ways to go still, but true nuclear stalemate would make it much more challenging for [the United States] to reassure [and] defend allies in the face of Chinese conventional threats,” she concluded.

U.S. defense officials are also watching to see if China will use its civilian nuclear power infrastructure to expand its weapons-grade fissile material stockpile. Richard warned in April that Beijing’s new nuclear power reactors “could change the upper bounds of what China could choose to do if they wanted to in terms of further expansion of their nuclear capabilities.” Nuclear infrastructure intended for civilian use could be maladapted for the production of weapons-grade material.

China’s rapid expansion has prompted questions about how it could affect arms control and strategic stability talks between the United States and Russia. Washington and Moscow kicked off the dialogue in July in Geneva.

The Trump administration pursued efforts in 2020 to bring China into trilateral arms control talks with Russia, but Beijing repeatedly refused. (See ACT, November 2020.) At one point, the Trump administration conditioned an extension of the 2010 U.S.-Russian New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which was set to expire in February 2021, on China’s involvement in a new trilateral arms control agreement. (See ACT, July/August 2020.)

Trump left office with the treaty’s future in doubt, but the Biden administration agreed to extend New START just days before its expiration. Even so, Blinken said on Feb. 3 that Washington will not only seek future arms control covering all Russian nuclear weapons, but also “pursue arms control to reduce the dangers from China’s modern and growing nuclear arsenal.”

On Aug. 10, Price echoed the secretary’s remarks after the silo field revelations, saying that “we encourage Beijing to engage with us on practical measures to reduce the risks of destabilizing arms races and conflict.”

The desire for a dialogue on strategic stability with China is shared by some U.S. military leaders. “A dialogue allows us to communicate our national security or diplomatic objectives, and then to understand Chinese national security diplomatic objectives,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Lutton, commander of the 20th Air Force, which has responsibility for the U.S. ICBM force, on Aug. 10. “I think it is beneficial to work with the Chinese.”

In addition to China’s construction of new missile silos, a July 30 report by National Public Radio revealed satellite images of the construction of a new tunnel and roads at Lop Nur, the former Chinese nuclear test site. The U.S. State Department has previously expressed concern that Beijing may be seeking to increase activities at Lop Nur. (See ACT, May 2021.)

China’s construction of new long-range missile silos is raising concerns.

 

Key Arms Control Officials Confirmed


September 2021
By Shannon Bugos and Julia Masterson

The Biden administration made progress over the past two months in filling key arms control and national security posts within several departments.

Bonnie Jenkins, a former Arms Control Association board member with decades of experience as an arms control and nonproliferation expert, is the new undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. She is among the unusually high number of women named to national security positions by President Joe Biden. (Photo by U.S. Mission-Geneva)Bonnie Jenkins was sworn in on July 25 as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. Just three days later, she led the U.S. delegation, alongside Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, in a round of the U.S.-Russian strategic stability dialogue in Geneva.

“I am committed to reduce the risk of nuclear war by effective arms control, limit Russian and [Chinese] nuclear expansion, strengthen biosecurity, and pursue accountability for the use of chemical weapons,” Jenkins posted on Twitter following her swearing-in ceremony.

The Senate confirmed Jenkins on July 21 by a vote of 52–48. Biden nominated her for the post in March. (See ACT, April 2021.)

Jenkins, a former board member of the Arms Control Association and former coordinator for threat reduction programs at the State Department under President Barack Obama, will oversee bilateral talks with Russia on strategic stability and nuclear arms control, as well as guide U.S. strategy for the upcoming 10th review conference for the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

In addition, Biden nominated Mallory Stewart on July 2 to become assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification, and compliance, a position that reports to Jenkins. Stewart currently serves as a special assistant to the president and senior director for arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation on the National Security Council. She previously served as deputy assistant secretary of state for emerging security challenges and defense policy during Obama’s second term.

Stewart’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has yet to be scheduled.

Also among the Obama administration alumni tapped to join the Biden team is Laura Holgate, who was nominated July 27 to be the U.S. representative to the Vienna office of the United Nations and to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Holgate previously served as U.S. ambassador to the IAEA from July 2016 until January 2017.

At the Pentagon, Biden nominated Sasha Baker as deputy undersecretary of defense for policy and Deborah Rosenblum as assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical, and biological defense. Baker is now the White House’s senior director for strategic planning at the National Security Council and served as deputy chief of staff to Defense Secretary Ash Carter during the Obama administration. She was nominated Aug. 10, and her confirmation hearing has yet to be scheduled.

Rosenblum, an executive vice president at the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a nongovernmental organization, previously held multiple senior positions in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Following her nomination April 27, she was confirmed by a voice vote of the Senate on July 29, and Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said on Aug. 10 that the department recently welcomed her to its ranks.

With a bipartisan vote of 79–16, the Senate confirmed Jill Hruby on July 22 as undersecretary of energy for nuclear security and administrator at the NNSA, a semiautonomous agency at the Energy Department. Biden nominated Hruby, a former director of Sandia National Laboratories, in April.

Hruby will “lead our efforts to maintain a safe and reliable nuclear deterrent and protect our national security,” said Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm following Hruby’s confirmation. “She is a brilliant leader, a model public servant, and an inspiration to engineers and rising stars everywhere.”

Frank Rose was sworn in Aug. 2 as NNSA principal deputy administrator. Rose, nominated in April, previously served in Obama’s State Department as assistant secretary for arms control, verification, and compliance and deputy assistant secretary for space and defense policy.

Biden also announced on Aug. 4 his nomination of Corey Hinderstein as deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation at the Energy Department. She previously served as senior coordinator for nuclear security and nonproliferation policy affairs in that office and currently is the NTI vice president of international fuel-cycle strategies.

“If confirmed, she would lead our nonproliferation work and help keep our nation and our world safe from nuclear threats,” Granholm said about Hinderstein’s nomination.

 

Bonnie Jenkins, the new undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, is among the officials recently confirmed by the Senate.

Chlorine Cylinders Destroyed by Air Strike in Syria


September 2021
By Julia Masterson and Leanne Quinn

Two chlorine cylinders relevant to an investigation by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) into Syria’s chemical weapons activities were destroyed June 8 in an alleged missile strike. In a July 9 letter to the OPCW, the Syrian government informed the chemical weapons watchdog of the incident and blamed Israel for the attack.

The UN chemical weapons watchdog is still investigating the 2018 chemical weapons attack on the city of Douma, Syria, which has been blamed on the Syrian government. (Photo by  Louai Beshara/AFP via Getty Images)Israel denied involvement in the strike that damaged Syria’s Al-Nasiriyah site, which had been sealed under the watch of the OPCW Technical Secretariat. Two chlorine cylinders related to an April 2018 chemical weapons attack in the city of Douma were destroyed. The OPCW’s Investigation and Identification Team, which is charged with investigating and attributing responsibility for chemical weapons attacks in Syria, is currently leading a mission to determine who was behind that attack, which killed more than 40 people.

In his July 23 progress report on the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons program, OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias said he responded to Syria’s letter about the attack with a request for more information and documentation. The Technical Secretariat last inspected the two chlorine cylinders in November 2020, and according to Arias, “the inspection team was mandated to transport the cylinders to OPCW headquarters,” located in The Hague. During this deployment, Syria “notified the inspection team that the cylinders could not be shipped outside its territory,” Arias reported.

Notably, he highlighted that OPCW records suggest the cylinders were stored and inspected at another declared site, located approximately 37 miles from Al-Nasiriyah. Damascus had been instructed by the OPCW to not open, move, or otherwise alter the cylinders without authorization, but Syria did not notify the Technical Secretariat that the cylinders had been moved to a new location until Syria “reported their destruction,” he said.

The Syrian government countered that it had fulfilled its obligations to the Technical Secretariat because the November 2020 OPCW inspection of the cylinders included the collection of data on the contents, dimensions, metal density, radioactivity, and other aspects of the cylinders.

The Al-Nasiriyah site is a former chemical weapons production facility that Syria declared to the OPCW but claimed had never been used. Damascus was required to declare the entirety of its chemical weapons stockpile, including production facilities, when it acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2013.

Although the majority of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile was destroyed during an international initiative in 2013–2014, the OPCW Declaration Assessment Team (DAT) has found that 19 issues related to Syria’s chemical weapons declaration are still unresolved. The Technical Secretariat is keen to understand the extent of the damage to the site, given that Al-Nasiriyah is “related to one outstanding issue recently opened by the DAT,” according to a statement by Thomas Makram, the deputy UN high representative for disarmament affairs.

Makram presented Arias’s report to an Aug. 4 meeting of the UN Security Council, where the news was met by vehement calls from the international community for more information and documentation on the incident. Barbara Woodward, the United Kingdom’s ambassador to the United Nations, said that “this incident represents not only the highly concerning failure by Syria to comply with the important OPCW requests, but also unauthorized interference with evidence central to an ongoing high-profile investigation.”

Bassam Sabbagh, Syria’s ambassador to the UN, condemned the July 23 progress report for focusing “only on the technical aspects” of the incident rather than the implications of an air strike on sovereign territory. Sabbagh, along with the Russian ambassador, accused the OPCW of “politicization,” but reaffirmed the willingness of Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad to meet with Arias and “agree on a way forward.”

The U.N. chemical weapons watchdog is investigating an air strike that destroyed two chlorine cylinders related to an April 2018 chemical weapons attack in Syria.

India Tests New Agni Missile


September 2021

India’s newly tested Agni-Prime (Agni-P) missile “will give the armed forces the requisite operational flexibility to swiftly transport and fire [the weapon] from anywhere they want,” an official from the government’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) announced shortly after the June 28 launch.

The 1,000–2,000-kilometer range of India's new Agni-P missile suggests that the weapon was designed as a counter to Pakistan’s forces, not China's. (Photo by Press Information Bureau on behalf of Ministry of Defence, Government of India)The Agni-P will be inaugurated as “a new-generation advanced variant” of Agni missile, the official confirmed. The solid-fueled missile has a reported range of 1,000 to 2,000 kilometers and can be canisterised, according to Indian defense officials, meaning that the warhead will be mated and stored with the missile, reducing the time required for preparation and launch.

India’s Press Information Bureau confirmed the launch, the first for this missile, from Abdul Kalam Island. The Ministry of Defence said that “various telemetry and radar stations positioned along the eastern coast tracked and monitored the missile. The missile followed textbook trajectory, meeting all mission objectives with a high level of accuracy.”

The DRDO said that, like other Agni missiles, the new one is nuclear capable.

New Delhi’s development of the Agni-P could be attributed to a push for increased flexibility and expanded targeting options. “Compared with both the Agni-I and -II, imagery suggests that the new missile appears to be wider in diameter, potentially allowing for a larger payload to be accommodated,” Timothy Wright and Joseph Dempsey of the International Institute for Strategic Studies wrote in a July 29 analysis.

They suggested that, “unless India intends to solely use the Agni-P for nuclear weapons delivery,” the missile’s designation as nuclear capable “potentially leaves open the option that the new missile could be equipped, like some earlier variants of the Agni family, with either conventional or nuclear warheads.”

The Agni-P’s range suggests that the missile was designed to counter Pakistan’s forces, given that the distance is not far enough to reach China, India’s other primary regional adversary. Wright, Dempsey, and other analysts have noted that, once deployed, the Agni-P will serve as a deterrent against Pakistani aggression. Pakistan and China remained silent on the June 28 launch.—JULIA MASTERSON

India Tests New Agni Missile

Raisi Pledges Return to Nuclear Talks

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi pledged to pursue “smart engagement” in order to lift sanctions on Iran during his Aug. 5 inauguration speech. Raisi characterized the U.S. sanctions as oppressive and said his government would support “a diplomatic plan that achieves this goal,” likely referring to efforts to restore U.S. and Iranian compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). He also said that Iran’s nuclear program is “completely peaceful” and reiterated the official line that “Iran has placed a religious ban on nuclear weapons.” Talks to...

New Report on Congressional Perspectives on U.S. Policy toward North Korea

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For Immediate Release: August 9, 2021

Media Contacts: Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 102; and Julia Masterson, research associate, (202) 463-8270 ext. 103

(WASHINGTON, D.C)—Addressing the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons is one of the most significant and complex challenges facing the United States. Developing, implementing, and sustaining a verifiable diplomatic process that reduces risk and rolls back Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program requires a whole of government approach, including constructive contributions from members of the U.S. Congress.

While crafting and implementing such an approach will be the prerogative of the Executive Branch, the role that Congress can play in supporting or hindering such a process should not be overlooked. Congress has used an array of tools to put in place conditions for negotiations, express its support or opposition to administration policy, and implement coercive measures toward North Korea designed to punish Pyongyang for its violations of international law and stymie its weapons development efforts.

Using survey data and in-depth interviews from the late months of 2020, this report provides insight into how Congress views the North Korean nuclear threat and U.S. approaches to engaging with Pyongyang. More clarity into Congressional views and attitudes may lead to more effective policymaking.

The full report is available for download at ArmsControl.org/Reports.

Description: 

Using survey data and in-depth interviews, this report provides insight into how Congress views the North Korean nuclear threat and U.S. approaches to engaging with Pyongyang.

Country Resources:

New Iranian President May Prolong Deal Talks

Iran’s president-elect Ebrahim Raisi has expressed support for returning Iran to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal if U.S. sanctions are verifiably lifted. Raisi’s election, however, appears to be responsible for delaying the resumption of talks in Vienna to restore the accord as the president-elect’s advisers are reviewing the progress that negotiators made in the first six rounds of talks. The sixth round concluded June 20, two days after the election, and it is still unclear when the seventh round will commence. Raisi’s position on the nuclear deal is consistent with the position taken...

New Iran President May Complicate Nuclear Talks


July/August 2021
By Kelsey Davenport and Julia Masterson

Iran’s election of conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi to be the country’s next president may complicate efforts to restore the United States and Iran to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, but is unlikely to alter Tehran’s interest in reviving the accord.

Ebrahim Raisi is pictured June 21 during his first press conference since his election as Iran's next president. The victory of the hardline cleric could complicate efforts by Iran and the United States to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.  (Photo by Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)Raisi, the former head of the judiciary and a potential successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, opposed the nuclear deal in 2015, but during the campaign voiced his support for restoring it. Although Raisi will not take office until August, he is expected to weigh in on the ongoing negotiations to restore the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Raisi’s election was expected after a number of possible challengers were ruled ineligible to run by the 12-member Guardian Council, which vets and approves all presidential candidates.

Raisi won 62 percent of the vote, but less than half of eligible voters cast ballots, suggesting low enthusiasm for the candidates. In the 2017 presidential election, when Raisi ran unsuccessfully against incumbent Hassan Rouhani, 73 percent of the population voted.

Prior to the election, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s lead nuclear negotiator, told al-Jazeera that if Raisi were elected, “there will be no disruption” in talks to restore the nuclear deal. He said that Iran’s policies are “unchanging, irrespective of different administrations.”

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan similarly said that Iran’s position on talks to restore the JCPOA is unlikely to change with Raisi’s election. Sullivan told ABC on June 20 that the “ultimate decision” to return to the deal will be made by the supreme leader and “he was the same person before the election as he is after the election.”

In a June 21 press conference, Raisi reiterated Iran’s position on restoring the deal, saying that U.S. sanctions must be lifted and their removal verified.

The sixth round of indirect talks between the United States and Iran on restoring the JCPOA wrapped up June 20, two days after the election.

Araghchi told journalists that day that progress has been made in all areas, but some “major differences” have not been resolved. He said the remaining issues “require serious decisions in the capitals.”

Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s ambassador to international organizations in Vienna, tweeted on June 17 that progress was made during recent talks on one of the most controversial issues, the sequencing of steps each side needs to take. He also noted that “difficult and time-consuming topics” remain unresolved.

One of the outstanding issues appears to be Iran’s demand that the United States provide some guarantee that it will not withdraw from the nuclear deal again and reimpose sanctions, as President Donald Trump did in May 2018. Araghchi told Iranian state TV on June 20 that Iran seeks “guarantees that assure” that “what the previous [U.S.] administration did…will not happen again.” He said some progress has been made on this issue but it requires more work.

Another issue that does not appear to have been resolved is the U.S. desire for Iran to agree to future talks on a range of issues once the nuclear deal is restored. U.S. President Joe Biden has signaled his determination to pursue further negotiations with Iran to build on the nuclear deal and to address regional security issues.

Raisi’s election may complicate those goals. In his June 21 press conference, Raisi said Iran seeks a balanced relationship with the outside world and the country’s foreign policy does not begin and end with the nuclear deal. He said that Iran’s ballistic missile program will not be a subject of negotiations. Raisi also asked why Iran should engage with the United States on a broader range of issues when Washington has not met its obligations under the nuclear deal.

U.S. policymakers have frequently raised concerns about Iran’s ballistic missile activities, which are limited by UN Security Council Resolution 2231 but not covered by the nuclear deal. Biden is also under pressure to force Iran to end support for its militant proxies such as Hamas in Gaza and the Houthis in Yemen. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a June 21 press briefing that the administration is confident that if the nuclear deal is restored, the United States will have “additional tools” to address issues outside of the nuclear deal, including ballistic missiles. He said Iran has “no doubt” about where the United States stands on follow-on diplomacy.

 

Iran’s election of Ebrahim Raisi to be the country’s next president could complicate efforts to restore compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.a

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