On the Brink of War

January 6, 2020
Two men holding Iranian flag beside Azadi Tower in Tehran

Amid Iranian missile strikes, CPL director Amb. Wendy R. Sherman examines what's next after Iran shrugs off nuclear deal following killing of Suleimani.

The killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, a powerful figure in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, in a drone attack Friday ordered by President Trump has triggered a cascade of potentially incendiary consequences.

Iran officials appeared to make good on some of the retaliatory threats exchanged with President Trump on social media with ballistic missile attacks Tuesday on two military bases in Iraqi where U.S. troops are stationed. No deaths have been reported. Iran has already taken another significant step in response to Suleimani’s death. On Sunday, Tehran announced it would no longer honor stockpiling and processing limits on nuclear materials at the heart of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the official name of the 2015 nuclear agreement. Though Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal in May 2018, Iran’s decision is widely viewed as a deliberate escalation of tension aimed at the White House.

Leaders from the European Union, which is still a party to the nuclear deal and hopes to salvage it, determined Monday that Iran’s recent violations did not warrant the imposition of new sanctions.

As U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs, Ambassador Wendy R. Sherman spent four years brokering the historic nuclear pact as lead negotiator for the U.S. She’s now director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School. Sherman discusses the tinderbox state of affairs between Iran and the U.S.

by Christina Pazzanese

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