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November 15, 2016

Maximizing the Opening with Iran: How President Trump Can Secure American Interests in the Middle East

New report signed by 76 experts urges President Trump to maximize diplomacy with Iran

Washington, DC – It lies in the interest of the United States to build on the Iran nuclear deal to resolve remaining tensions with Iran and help stabilize the Middle East, argues a new report signed by 76 national security experts and published by the National Iranian American Council. Maximizing the Opening with Iran: How President Trump Can Secure American Interests in the Middle East provides concrete policy recommendations on eight issues critical to U.S. national security: From the fight against ISIS, to the bilateral relationship with Iran, to the Saudi-Iranian rivalry, to the stabilization of Iraq and Afghanistan, to sanctions relief and Human Rights in Iran.

Signatories include Ronald Reagan’s former Assistant Secretary of Defense Larry Korb, Colin Powell’s former Chief of Staff Larry Wilkerson, former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Affairs Chas Freeman, Ploughshares President Joe Cirincione, former National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia Paul Pillar, prominent scholars Andrew Bacevich, John Mearsheimer, Juan Cole, Stephen Walt, Robert Jervis, and Barnett Rubin, as well as international best-selling authors Reza Aslan and Rula Jebreal.


The Iran nuclear deal was a significant contribution to regional stability – both the risk of an Iranian bomb and a military confrontation with Iran have been significantly reduced. Continued diplomacy with Iran is critical to achieve other American interests, such as defeating ISIS.

“Trump may have been critical of the Iran deal during the campaign, but he will need the deal to remain intact to achieve his other stated goals, such as defeating ISIS” said Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council. “He can defeat ISIS or defeat the JCPOA, but he can’t defeat both. Undermining the JCPOA will directly undermine any prospects for cooperation and collaboration against ISIS.”

Both U.S.-Iran relations and American national interests can be advanced through concrete short and long-term measures in regard to managing the Saudi-Iran rivalry; ending the Syrian civil war; creating a viable Iraqi state; stabilizing Afghanistan; easing America’s unilateral sanctions regime; and addressing human rights in Iran.

“Whether President Donald Trump seeks to sustain and broaden the opening to Iran or distances himself from this opportunity promises to reveal much about his approach to statecraft. That there are risks involved is no doubt the case. But absent a willingness to accept some risk, U.S. policy in the Middle East will simply replicate and deepen the failures of the recent past,” said Andrew Bacevich, Professor of International Relations and History at Boston University.
“Washington cannot stabilize the Middle East without Iran’s involvement. Iran will be part of the regional solution – or there won’t be a solution,” said Reza Marashi, Research Director at the National Iranian American Council. “The only question is how President Trump will approach Iran and its role as a major power in the region. Having recognized that Iran cannot be indefinitely contained, pursuing a policy of non-engagement would simply be detrimental to U.S. interests.”

The report can be downloaded at niacouncil.org/potusreport.


NIAC is a Washington, DC-based 501 c(3) non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the interests of the Iranian-American community. NIAC is funded through donations from the Iranian-American community as well as grants from the Ploughshares Fund, ARCA Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, among others. For more information about the organization, please visit niacouncil.org, or email us at [email protected]

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