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Contain, Enforce, and Engage: An Integrated U.S. Strategy to Address Iran’s Nuclear and Regional Challenges

Published By: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

By: William Burns, Michele Flournoy, Jarrett Blanc, Elisa Catalano Ewers, Ilan Goldenberg, Ariel Levite, Elizabeth Rosenberg, Karim Sadjadpour

The JCPOA, essential as it is to retain and implement effectively, however, must not be the end of the diplomatic road with Iran. It is merely the beginning, the cornerstone of a broader, longer-term strategy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and to diminish and counter Iran’s threatening behavior—from its growing ballistic missile arsenal, to its dangerous use of regional proxies, to its human rights abuses at home.

This report outlines the key elements of such a strategy—a tough-minded approach to playing a strong American hand against an adversary that is formidable, but hardly ten feet tall. It calls on the United States to continue to enforce rigorous implementation of the nuclear agreement; to embed the agreement in a wider regional strategy deploying all elements of American power to limit Iran’s ability to meddle in the internal affairs of our regional partners or threaten Israel; and to engage Iran to avoid inadvertent escalation, make clear our profound concerns with Iran’s behavior at home and abroad, address the eventual sunset of JCPOA nuclear limits, and test opportunities to advance shared interests. This is all easier said than done. There will be no avoiding complicated tradeoffs. But it is an honest and realistic guide for U.S. policy today and in the difficult years ahead.