Nephew advised that the Iran Nuclear Deal was not a radical shift in US-Iran relations, but was rather the “start of something”. The real challenge, he argued, would be to build on the solid foundation which the deal represents. In particular, Nephew warned that Rouhani faced a difficult task in delivering the prosperity he promised the Iranian people as part of the new deal.

In an international context, Nephew downplayed the perceived US pivot away from its traditional allies in the Gulf. He drew attention to the long memory of the US population, which still associated Iran with (former Ayatollah) Khomeini’s more confrontationist stance. In order to move past this impasse, there should be more trust-building exercises in the upcoming years. These trust-building exercises could also involve the EU, whose proactive Iran policy Nephew praised, saying that "some problems don’t have US solutions".

The discussion was moderated by Anne Applebaum, Director of the Transitions Forum at the Legatum Institute.

About the Speaker

Richard Nephew is the Program Director for Economic Statecraft, Sanctions and Energy Markets at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. Prior to joining the Center in February 2015, Nephew served as Principal Deputy Co-ordinator for Sanctions Policy at the Department of State, a position he assumed in February 2013. Nephew also served as the lead sanctions expert for the US team negotiating with Iran, and from May 2011 to January 2013, he was the director for Iran on the National Security Staff where he was responsible for managing a period of intense expansion of US sanctions on Iran. Earlier in his career he served in the Bureau of International Security and Non-proliferation at the State Department and in the Office of Nonproliferation and International Security at the Department of Energy. Nephew holds a Masters in Security Policy Studies and a Bachelors in International Affairs, both from The George Washington University.

The Transitions Forum is a series of projects dedicated to the challenges and possibilities of radical political and economic change.