Iran: Where We Are Today, Staff Report to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

May 4, 2009

Related Country: 

  • Iran

For the first time in three decades, the United States and Iran appear to be on a path toward direct bilateral talks. President Obama and other administration officials are determined to explore areas of mutual interest and negotiate the difficult obstacles to an improved U.S.-Iran relationship. One of those obstacles is the suspicion surrounding Iran’s nuclear program. Iran’s leaders say that its ambitions are only to develop a civilian nuclear capacity to conserve the country’s oil and gas reserves, but the United States and many of its allies have deep suspicions about the potential military aspects of the program. Resolving the issue will be one of the most difficult confronting negotiators for the two countries and the international community. The attached staff report presents findings from research in Austria, Israel and the United States as well as information obtained from numerous unclassified reports. The report is intended to provide a baseline that will help us understand the questions surrounding Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the challenges confronting negotiators as they endeavor to answer them.