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HomeMiddle EastDecember 17: The Future of Iran Nuclear Deal Under the Biden Administration

December 17: The Future of Iran Nuclear Deal Under the Biden Administration

Image credit: Bundesministerium für europäische und internationale Angelegenheiten

The Institute for Peace & Diplomacy (IPD) is pleased to announce our panel on the ‘Future of Iran Nuclear Deal Under Biden Administration.’ The discussion is scheduled for 12:00 pm (EDT) on December 17 and can be watched live upon registration. Please reserve your spot with this link.

As the US prepares for a change of leadership in January 2021, this panel brings into conversation the perspectives of various experts—from Washington and Vienna, to Geneva and Tehran—on the future of nuclear negotiations with Iran under the incoming Biden administration.

While President-Elect Biden and his team have expressed their interest to re-enter the JCPOA, recent developments including the assassination of an Iranian top nuclear scientist, as well as Iran’s approved parliamentary bill to stop nuclear inspections and increase the number of advanced centrifuges show that there are major hurdles in the path of US-Iran diplomacy.  

To uncover these developments and discuss the prospect of future negotiations, we are honoured to have Ambassador Stephan Klement, EU Head of Delegation to International Organisations and EEAS Special Advisor on Nuclear Implementation of the JCPOA, as our keynote speaker in conversation with Younes Zangiabadi, Executive Vice-President of the IPD. 

This conversation will take place in the first section of the panel (12:00- 12:30 PM). Please note that Chatham House Rule is in effect for the keynote address, and the first half-hour is not open to members of the media.

In the second part of the event (12:30 PM -1:30 PM), we will host foreign policy and sanctions experts for a timely and important discussion on complexities associated with US-Iran relations and the possibility of the next US administration rejoining the Iran Nuclear Deal.

Date: December 17, 2020

Time: 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM (EDT)

Register here.

Keynote Speaker:

Stephan Klement

Stephan Klement is the EU Head of Delegation to International Organisation and Special Advisor in charge of the nuclear implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in the European External Action Service (EEAS). He was involved in the negotiations on the Iranian nuclear issue since 2004 and he has more than 20 years of experience in the nuclear policy and nuclear non-proliferation field, working in different European Institutions, as well as in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He is the holder of a doctoral degree in physics as well as in international law.

Panelists:

Trita Parsi

Dr. Tirta Parsi is the Executive Vice-President of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. He is an award-winning author and the 2010 recipient of the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. He is an expert on US-Iranian relations, Iranian foreign politics, and the geopolitics of the Middle East. He has authored three books on US foreign policy in the Middle East, with a particular focus on Iran and Israel. Parsi’s latest book–Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy (Yale University Press, 2017)–reveals behind the scenes story of the historic nuclear deal with Iran. 

His articles on Middle East affairs have been published in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Financial Times, Jane’s Intelligence Review, the Nation, The American Conservative, the Jerusalem Post, The Forward, and others. He is a frequent guest on CNN, PBS’s Newshour, NPR, the BBC, and Al Jazeera.

Erica Moret

Dr. Erica Moret is Senior Researcher at the Centre for Global Governance and Visiting Lecturer at the Department of International Relations/ Political Science at the Graduate Institute, Geneva.  She is the coordinator and co-founder of the Geneva International Sanctions Network (GISN) and Associate Editor of the Journal of Global Security Studies. Moret is a former diplomat and she has also advised the Canadian, French, German and UK governments on their sanctions policies, including providing evidence to Inquiries for both UK Houses of Parliament and serving on various high-level EU task forces.  

From 1 October 2020, Dr. Moret acts as Project Lead on a two-year Swiss Network of International Studies (SNIS)-funded project entitled “When Money Can’t Buy Food and Medicine: Banking Challenges in the International Trade of Vital Goods and their Humanitarian Impact in Sanctioned Jurisdictions

Hassan Ahmadian

Dr. Hassan Ahmadian is an Assistant Professor of Middle East and North Africa studies at the University of Tehran and an Associate of the Project on Shi’ism and Global Affairs at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. He is also a Middle East security and politics fellow at the Center for Strategic Research, Tehran.

 Dr. Ahmadian received his Ph.D. in Area Studies from the University of Tehran and undertook a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Iran Project, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Fluent in Arabic, Persian, and English, his research and teaching is mainly focused on Iran’s foreign policy and international relations, political change, civil-military relations, and Islamist movements in the Middle East. His research and analyses have appeared in peer-reviewed journals as well as prestigious Persian, English and Arabic outlets.

Thomas Juneau 

Dr. Thomas Juneau is an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa. His research focuses mostly on the Middle East, in particular on Iran and Yemen. He is also interested in Canadian foreign and defence policy, in the relationship between intelligence and policy, and in international relations theory.

He is the author of Squandered Opportunity: Neoclassical realism and Iranian foreign policy (Stanford University Press, 2015), editor of Strategic Analysis in Support of International Policy-Making: Case studies in achieving analytical relevance (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017), co-editor of Iranian Foreign Policy since 2001: Alone in the world (Routledge, 2013), and co-editor of Asie centrale et Caucase: Une sécurité mondialisée (Presses de l’Université Laval, 2004). Prior to joining the University of Ottawa, he worked for the Department of National Defence from 2003 to 2014, chiefly as a strategic analyst covering the Middle East. He was also a policy officer and an assistant to the deputy minister.

Moderator – Negar Mortazavi

Negar Mortazavi is an Iranian-American journalist and political analyst based in Washington. She has been covering Iranian affairs and US-Iran relations for over a decade. She is a columnist for The Independent and host of the Iran Podcast. She is a frequent media analyst on Iran and has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, NPR, BBC, France24, Aljazeera, and other media outlets in China, Turkey, and Israel.

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Panel 4: Pathways to Manage Non-Proliferation in the Middle East (4:30 PM - 5:45 PM ET)

The Western powers have failed to effectively manage the increasing threat of proliferation in the Middle East. While the international community is concerned with Iran’s nuclear program, Saudi Arabia has moved forward with developing its own nuclear program, and independent studies show that Israel has longed possessed dozens of nuclear warheads. The former is a member of the treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), while the latter has refused to sign the international agreement. 

On Middle East policy, the Biden campaign had staunchly criticized the Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly known as the Iran Nuclear Deal and it has begun re-engaging Iran on the nuclear dossier since assuming office in January 2021. However, serious obstacles remain for responsible actors in expanding non-proliferation efforts toward a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. 

This panel will discuss how Western powers and multilateral institutions, such as the IAEA, can play a more effective role in managing non-proliferation efforts in the Middle East.  

Panelists:

Peggy Mason: Canada’s former Ambassador to the UN for Disarmament

Mark Fitzpatrick: Associate Fellow & Former Executive Director, International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)

Ali Vaez: Iran Project Director, International Crisis Group

Negar Mortazavi: Journalist and Political Analyst, Host of Iran Podcast

David Albright: Founder and President of the Institute for Science and International Security

 

Closing (5:45 PM – 6:00 PM ET)

Panel 3: Trade and Business Diplomacy in the Middle East (3:00 PM - 4:15 PM ET)

What is the current economic landscape in the Middle East? While global foreign direct investment is expected to fall drastically in the post-COVID era, the World Bank reported a 5% contraction in the economic output of the Middle East and North African (MENA) countries in 2020 due to the pandemic. While oil prices are expected to rebound with normalization in demand, political instability, regional and geopolitical tensions, domestic corruption, and a volatile regulatory and legal environment all threaten economic recovery in the Middle East. What is the prospect for economic growth and development in the region post-pandemic, and how could MENA nations promote sustainable growth and regional trade moving forward?

At the same time, Middle Eastern diaspora communities have become financially successful and can help promote trade between North America and the region. In this respect, the diaspora can become vital intermediaries for advancing U.S. and Canada’s business interests abroad. Promoting business diplomacy can both benefit the MENA region and be an effective and positive way to advance engagement and achieve foreign policy goals of the North Atlantic.

This panel will investigate the trade and investment opportunities in the Middle East, discuss how facilitating economic engagement with the region can benefit Canadian and American national interests, and explore relevant policy prescriptions.

Panelists:

Hon. Sergio Marchi: Canada’s Former Minister of International Trade

Scott Jolliffe: Chairperson, Canada Arab Business Council

Esfandyar Batmanghelidj: Founder and Publisher of Bourse & Bazaar

Nizar Ghanem: Director of Research and Co-founder at Triangle

Nicki Siamaki: Researcher at Control Risks

Panel 2: Arms Race and Terrorism in the Middle East (12:00 PM - 1:15 PM ET)

The Middle East continues to grapple with violence and instability, particularly in Yemen, Syria and Iraq. Fueled by government incompetence and foreign interventions, terrorist insurgencies have imposed severe humanitarian and economic costs on the region. Meanwhile, regional actors have engaged in an unprecedented pursuit of arms accumulation. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have imported billions of both Western and Russian-made weapons and funded militant groups across the region, intending to contain their regional adversaries, particularly Iran. Tehran has also provided sophisticated weaponry to various militia groups across the region to strengthen its geopolitical position against Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Israel. 

On the other hand, with international terrorist networks and intense regional rivalry in the Middle East, it is impractical to discuss peace and security without addressing terrorism and the arms race in the region. This panel will primarily discuss the implications of the ongoing arms race in the region and the role of Western powers and multilateral organizations in facilitating trust-building security arrangements among regional stakeholders to limit the proliferation of arms across the Middle East.

 

Panelists:

Luciano Zaccara: Assistant Professor, Qatar University

Dania Thafer: Executive Director, Gulf International Forum

Kayhan Barzegar: Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the Science and Research Branch of Azad University

Barbara Slavin: Director of Iran Initiative, Atlantic Council

Sanam Shantyaei: Senior Journalist at France24 & host of Middle East Matters

Panel 1: Future of Diplomacy and Engagement in the Middle East (10:30 AM-11:45 AM ET)

The emerging regional order in West Asia will have wide-ranging implications for global security. The Biden administration has begun re-engaging Iran on the nuclear dossier, an initiative staunchly opposed by Israel, while also taking a harder line on Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen. Meanwhile, key regional actors, including Qatar, Iraq, and Oman, have engaged in backchannel efforts to bring Iran and Saudi Arabia to the negotiating table. From a broader geopolitical perspective, with the need to secure its energy imports, China is also expected to increase its footprint in the region and influence the mentioned challenges. 

In this evolving landscape, Western powers will be compelled to redefine their strategic priorities and adjust their policies with the new realities in the region. In this panel, we will discuss how the West, including the United States and its allies, can utilize multilateral diplomacy with its adversaries to prevent military escalation in the region. Most importantly, the panel will discuss if a multilateral security dialogue in the Persian Gulf region, proposed by some regional actors, can help reduce tensions among regional foes and produce sustainable peace and development for the region. 

Panelists:

Abdullah Baabood: Academic Researcher and Former Director of the Centre for Gulf Studies, Qatar University

Trita Parsi: Executive Vice-President, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft

Ebtesam Al-Ketbi: President, Emirates Policy Centre​

Jon Allen: Canada’s Former Ambassador to Israel

Elizabeth Hagedorn: Washington correspondent for Al-Monitor

Panel 4: Humanitarian Diplomacy: An Underused Foreign Policy Tool in the Middle East (4:30 PM - 5:30 PM ET)

Military interventions, political and economic instabilities, and civil unrest in the Middle East have led to a global refugee crisis with an increasing wave of refugees and asylum seekers to Europe and Canada. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has, in myriad ways, exacerbated and contributed to the ongoing security threats and destabilization of the region.

While these challenges pose serious risks to Canadian security, Ottawa will also have the opportunity to limit such risks and prevent a spillover effect vis-à-vis effective humanitarian initiatives in the region. In this panel, we will primarily investigate Canada’s Middle East Strategy’s degree of success in providing humanitarian aid to the region. Secondly, the panel will discuss what programs and initiatives Canada can introduce to further build on the renewed strategy. and more specifically, how Canada can utilize its policy instruments to more effectively deal with the increasing influx of refugees from the Middle East. 

 

Panelists:

Erica Di Ruggiero: Director of Centre for Global Health, University of Toronto

Reyhana Patel: Head of Communications & Government Relations, Islamic Relief Canada

Amir Barmaki: Former Head of UN OCHA in Iran

Catherine Gribbin: Senior Legal Advisor for International and Humanitarian Law, Canadian Red Cross

Panel 3: A Review of Canada’s Middle East Engagement and Defense Strategy (3:00 PM - 4:15 PM ET)

In 2016, Canada launched an ambitious five-year “Middle East Engagement Strategy” (2016-2021), committing to investing CA$3.5 billion over five years to help establish the necessary conditions for security and stability, alleviate human suffering and enable stabilization programs in the region. In the latest development, during the meeting of the Global Coalition against ISIS, Minister of Foreign Affairs Marc Garneau announced more than $43.6 million in Peace and Stabilization Operations Program funding for 11 projects in Syria and Iraq.

With Canada’s Middle East Engagement Strategy expiring this year, it is time to examine and evaluate this massive investment in the Middle East region in the past five years. More importantly, the panel will discuss a principled and strategic roadmap for the future of Canada’s short-term and long-term engagement in the Middle East.

Panelists:

Ferry de Kerckhove: Canada’s Former Ambassador to Egypt

Dennis Horak: Canada’s Former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Chris Kilford: Former Canadian Defence Attaché in Turkey, member of the national board of the Canadian International Council (CIC)

David Dewitt: University Professor Emeritus, York University

Panel 2: The Great Power Competition in the Middle East (12:00 PM - 1:15 PM ET)

While the United States continues to pull back from certain regional conflicts, reflected by the Biden administration’s decision to halt American backing for Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen and the expected withdrawal from Afghanistan, US troops continue to be stationed across the region. Meanwhile, Russia and China have significantly maintained and even expanded their regional activities. On one hand, the Kremlin has maintained its military presence in Syria, and on the other hand, China has signed an unprecedented 25-year strategic agreement with Iran.

As the global power structure continues to shift, it is essential to analyze the future of the US regional presence under the Biden administration, explore the emerging global rivalry with Russia and China, and at last, investigate the implications of such competition for peace and security in the Middle East.

Panelists:

Dmitri Trenin: Director of Carnegie Moscow Center

Joost R. Hiltermann: Director of MENA Programme, International Crisis Group

Roxane Farmanfarmaian: Affiliated Lecturer in International Relations of the Middle East and North Africa, University of Cambridge

Andrew A. Michta: Dean of the College of International and Security Studies at Marshall Center

Kelley Vlahos: Senior Advisor, Quincy Institute

Panel 1: A New Middle East Security Architecture in the Making (10:30 AM -11:45 AM ET)

The security architecture of the Middle East has undergone rapid transformations in an exceptionally short period. Notable developments include the United States gradual withdrawal from the region, rapprochement between Israel and some GCC states through the Abraham Accords and the rise of Chinese and Russian regional engagement.

With these new trends in the Middle East, it is timely to investigate the security implications of the Biden administration’s Middle East policy. In this respect, we will discuss the Biden team’s new approach vis-à-vis Iran, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. The panel will also discuss the role of other major powers, including China and Russia in shaping this new security environment in the region, and how the Biden administration will respond to these powers’ increasing regional presence.

 

Panelists:

Sanam Vakil: Deputy Director of MENA Programme at Chatham House

Denise Natali: Acting Director, Institute for National Strategic Studies & Director of the Center for Strategic Research, National Defense University

Hassan Ahmadian: Professor of the Middle East and North Africa Studies, University of Tehran

Abdulaziz Sagar: Chairman, Gulf Research Center

Andrew Parasiliti: President, Al-Monitor