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Is the Iran nuclear deal dead – again?

When then-candidate Joe Biden was vying to move into the Oval Office, he remained wishy-washy on several policy issues. But one thing was abundantly clear: rain, hail or shine, Biden planned to return to the Iran nuclear agreement negotiated in 2015 by his boss Barack Obama and nixed by anti-Iran hawk DJT.

But it takes two to tango, or in this case to tank a key diplomatic pursuit. The Iranians, who in the spring seemed gung-ho about the idea, are now slow-walking it, making a return to the nuclear deal in the near term seem very remote.

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Iran's missiles threaten entire Middle East, says journalist Robin Wright

The US wants to get out of the Middle East, but for The New Yorker's Robin Wright, there's still one big problem: Iran. What's more, the Iranian threat goes well beyond nukes, as it now has the region's largest ballistic missiles arsenal. Iran's position, she says, is "Okay, you want us to limit ours? Then you limit everybody's in the regions, including Israel," — and that's a nonstarter for the Israelis. Watch her interview with Ian Bremmer on the upcoming episode of GZERO World.

UNGA WATCH: Who's gonna vaccinate "the world"?

Well, we're in the thick of "high-level week" for the United Nations General Assembly, known as UNGA. As always, the busiest few days in global diplomacy are about more than just speeches and hellish midtown traffic in Manhattan. Here are a few things we are keeping an eye on as UNGA reaches peak intensity over in Turtle Bay.

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Iran makes trouble as nuclear talks drag on

Iran was involved in two naval incidents in the Gulf of Oman in recent days. The US, UK, and Israel have blamed Iran for a drone attack that killed two European nationals. Iran has rejected the accusations. Iran is also suspected in the "potential hijack" of a tanker off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

These provocations are happening just as Iran inaugurates a new president, Ebrahim Raisi, and as talks continue over the possible US re-entry into the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. What's the connection between these events? We asked Henry Rome, Eurasia Group's deputy head of research and a director covering global macro politics and the Middle East.

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What We’re Watching: Modi reshuffles cabinet, Iran enriches uranium metal, Ortega jails Nicaraguan opposition

Modi's makeover: After weathering months of criticism over his disastrous (mis)handling of the pandemic, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday undertook the biggest government reshuffle since he came to power seven years ago. At least a dozen cabinet ministers are out, including Harsh Vardhan, the health minister widely criticized for the devastating second wave of COVID infections that tore through the country earlier this year while India — the world's largest producer of vaccines — was unable to roll out jabs for its own people fast enough. The ministers of environment, education, and IT are also gone, and the new cabinet nearly triples the number of female ministers to 11. The move is a rare course correction for Modi, whose otherwise buoyant approval rating had plummeted nearly 15 points (to 63 percent) between January and June. India's economy is expected to roar back with 12.5 percent growth this year, but still barely 5 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.

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After Iranian election, revival of nuclear deal with US is a safe bet

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week:

With Iran's hardline president-elect, is reviving the nuclear deal still possible?

It's not just possible, it's probably one of the safest geopolitical bets around the world today, because not only the Iranian president-elect, but also the supreme leader, who really runs the country, all in favor of going back to the deal as it was enforced under the Obama-Biden administration. They will make more money off of that. They're not going to expand it. They're going to be limited. They don't even want to expand the timeline, never mind include other issues like support for proxies in the region, terrorist organizations, ballistic missile development, all of that. But I'd be really surprised that by the end of the year, by the end of the third quarter, we don't see the Iranians back in the Iranian nuclear deal.

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Iran's presidential race: A choiceless choice

The field has narrowed in Iran's highly-anticipated presidential elections set for next month. The powerful Guardian Council has given a handful of candidates the go-ahead to compete for the presidency. But critics of the regime say it's barely a competition at all. What's happened so far, and what does this tell us about the state of Iran's domestic politics?

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What We’re Watching: Putin to tighten Russian gun laws, Iran-Saudi thaw, new forests vs climate change

Putin orders review of gun laws after school shooting: Details remain sketchy following a shooting at a school in the Russian city of Kazan. At least seven children and one teacher were killed, and a 19-year-old has been arrested, according to local officials. In response to the attack, President Vladimir Putin "gave an order to urgently work out a new provision concerning the types of weapons that can be in civilian hands, taking into account the weapon" used in this shooting, according to a Kremlin spokesman. There's an irony here that extends to the United States, where school shootings are all too common. In 2018, a Russian woman named Maria Butina pleaded guilty to using the National Rifle Association, the gun rights lobbying group, to "establish unofficial lines of communication with Americans having power and influence over American politics." At the time, Putin described Butina's 18-year sentence as an "outrage." The NRA, of course, works hard to prevent Congress and the president from taking precisely the kinds of actions that Putin swiftly ordered following the shooting in Kazan.

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