Gemunder Center for Defense and Strategy

The U.S.-Israel Security Policy Project examines the various ways to strengthen the U.S.-Israel security relationship amid dramatic regional changes to meet growing dangers and capitalize on new opportunities.

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JINSA’s Abraham Accords Policy Project examines the historic implications of Israeli-Arab normalization for U.S. and Middle East security and provides policy recommendations for American decision-makers to expand and deepen these agreements, particularly in terms of enhanced regional defense cooperation.

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The Gemunder Center’s revamped Iran Policy Project brings together former senior military officers, high-ranking government officials, energy experts and business leaders to address the pressing challenges to U.S. national security posed by Iran and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear program.

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The Eastern Mediterranean Policy Project was established by JINSA to examine evolving threats and opportunities, and to provide recommendations, for U.S. policy toward the region, including Turkey’s increasingly aggressive posture, the return of great power competition and significant energy discoveries.

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The strategy that Hamas employed in the 2014 Gaza War represents the new face of war that threatens to undermine the effectiveness of conventional militaries, endangers civilians in irregular conflicts, and distorts the international legal structure.The Gaza Assessment Policy Project closely studies the evolution of this strategy and Israel’s response, based on primary source research and discussions with senior Israeli, Palestinian, and United Nations (U.N.) officials.

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The Hybrid Warfare Policy Project was established by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America’s (JINSA) Gemunder Center for Defense and Strategy to define the requirements of the law of armed conflict (LOAC) and to evaluate the performance of the U.S., Israeli, and other allied militaries in compliance with – and sometimes, beyond – the dictates of that law. The Policy Project also seeks to focus attention on the conduct of hybrid adversaries such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic State, which often intentionally exploit that same body of law to stymie U.S., Israeli,and allied forces in battle and to discredit their self-defense operations in the forum of public opinion.

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JINSA’s Jordan Valley Policy Project examines the strategic importance of Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley for Israel’s self-defense, U.S. national security interests and stability in the Middle East.

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JINSA’s Israel-China Policy Project examines ways that the United States and Israel can cooperate to address the growing geopolitical and economic challenges from China.

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JINSA’s Gemunder Center EMP Policy Project convenes former high-ranking government and military officials, directors of national laboratories, nuclear engineers and other experts to raise awareness and develop actionable recommendations to enhance U.S. strategic deterrence, critical infrastructure and societal resiliency against the spectrum of electromagnetic threats.

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National Security Briefs

Monthly Iran Projectile Tracker: February 2024

The Jewish Institute for National Security of America’s (JINSA) Iran Projectile Tracker presents regularly updated charts and graphs on missiles, rockets, drones, and mortars that Iran and its regional proxies have fired at U.S. personnel, partners, and interests in the Middle East. JINSA regularly updates the data for JINSA’s Iran Projectile Tracker and other Iran-linked malign activity. Below is an update reflecting the latest trends from the last month. Click here to read the Iran Projectile and Malign Activity Tracker Update .

Don’t Fall for Iran’s Empty Nuclear Gesture

Iran’s recent decision to trim its stockpile of 60 percent enriched uranium does nothing to reduce the much larger dangers posed by its perch on the nuclear weapons threshold. The Biden administration, Congress, and America’s allies should see this for what it is: an empty gesture intended merely to forestall serious diplomatic pressure at next week’s International Atomic Energy Agency board meeting. This Iranian fig leaf should not induce calm in American and European policymakers, but instead prompt long overdue diplomatic, legislative, and other strategic action to bolster credible deterrence and reimpose stringent international sanctions against Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Click here to read the NatSec Brief.

U.S. Should Leverage Middle East Partners to Boost Space Capabilities

As Iran-backed projectile attacks continue to inflict significant and tragic costs across the Middle East, space-based sensors could help detect those launches earlier and faster. Advances by U.S. regional partners—namely Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Israel—in satellite development provide an opportunity to develop integrated space-based intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities in the Middle East. The United States should better leverage its partners in the Middle East by collectively enhancing space-based ISR through joint research and development (R&D) ventures, leveraging emerging space technologies like nanosatellites and hyperspectral satellites, and incorporating space-...

Iran Projectile and Malign Activity Tracker Update 2/7/24

The Jewish Institute for National Security of America’s (JINSA) Iran Projectile Tracker presents regularly updated charts and graphs on missiles, rockets, drones, and mortars that Iran and its regional proxies have fired at U.S. personnel, partners, and interests in the Middle East. JINSA regularly updates the data for JINSA’s Iran Projectile Tracker and other Iran-linked malign activity. Below is an update reflecting the latest trends from the last month. Click here to read the Iran Projectile and Malign Activity Tracker Update .

Rethinking U.S. Hostage Policy in Gaza and Beyond

Americans have become a hot commodity. Compared to a decade ago, there has been a 175% increase in the number of hostage-taking incidents by hostile governments and terror groups involving Americans. That was before Hamas took around a dozen Americans, alongside some 240 others, hostage on October 7. While those horrific kidnappings brought the epidemic to the forefront of the public’s mind, it was both presaged and enabled by a marked rise in government-sponsored detentions of Americans for political purposes. The U.S. policy response – across continents and administrations – has exacerbated this trend, rewarding hostage-takers with political and monetary concessions in-stead of deterring and penalizing them. There is an urgen...

Alleged UNRWA Involvement in 10/7 Attack Highlights Dangers of Agency

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) announced on January 25 it had dismissed several employees after Israeli authorities provided information reportedly demonstrating that 12 UNRWA staffers were involved in the October 7 attack, including six staffers that directly participated. Additionally, Israeli intelligence reportedly shows that 190 UNRWA staffers are documented Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) operatives, approximately 1,200 UNRWA staffers have direct ties to terrorist groups, and Hamas operatives help coordinate UNRWA aid deliveries. These revelations should not come as a surprise, nor can be dismissed as just a few bad actors. UNRWA has long had a too-close-for-comfort relationship with Hamas, despite its ...

Deadly Iran-backed Attack Requires Response Against Iranian Regime Targets

An Iran-backed group conducted a drone attack on January 28 that killed three U.S. service members and injured at least 34 in Jordan. This was the first known Iran-backed attack against U.S. forces in Jordan and, more significantly, the first time, since Hamas’s October 7 invasion of Israel, that U.S. troops have been killed. The Biden administration has previously only used limited and reluctant force to respond to at-tacks on U.S. forces. Indeed, it responded more regularly and strongly to attacks on commercial shipping (10 U.S. strikes in response to at least 46 attacks) than it has to those on U.S. forces (10 strikes in response to at least 165 attacks). The United States can no longer afford to be so hesitant. The killing of U.S....

Strikes Against the Houthis Should Not Be a One-Off

After more than 40 Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea, the overdue and limited U.S. and British strikes that hit the Iran-backed terrorist group in Yemen on January 12 will likely prove insufficient to deter further attacks. The combined strikes by aircraft, warships, and submarines against 60 targets at 16 locations marked an important shift from a purely reactive, defensive posture toward a more offensive stance to degrade the capabilities of the Houthis. However, the strikes were too limited to achieve their stated purpose of “degrading” Houthi capabilities—they surely retain a sufficient arsenal to continue their attacks. Coalition military efforts should instead seek to deter Houthi attacks by imposing costs greater than t...

U.S. Diplomacy Won’t Deter Hezbollah

The Biden administration is reportedly attempting to mediate an agreement that would resolve Israel and Lebanon’s longstanding land border disputes and deploy the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) along the border, presumably displacing Hezbollah’s dangerous presence there. However, there is little reason to believe that, even if such a deal could be reached, it could be enforced or would end continual Hezbollah attacks against Israel. Hezbollah’s continued aggression, even after the implementation of the U.S.-mediated October 2022 Israel-Lebanon maritime border agreement, demonstrates that Israeli concessions and restraint in the face of Hezbollah attacks only invite more attacks. And neither Lebanese nor United Nations forces have any tra...

Iran Accelerates into the Nuclear Gray Zone

On December 26, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran more than tripled its production rate of 60 percent highly enriched uranium (HEU) from the month before. This is the latest in a series of aggressive Iranian moves to entrench itself securely in the nuclear gray zone of nuclear weapons capability, where it can credibly threaten to field a sizable nuclear arsenal in short order without actually testing a bomb or clearly crossing U.S. and Israeli redlines. Tehran’s decades-long approach to this threshold has occurred entirely in a vacuum of serious U.S. prevention strategy. Iran has expanded its enrichment capacity most aggressively in the last 18 months, as it became abundantly clear the Biden administratio...

Actions by the United Nations Undermine Israel’s Right to Self-Defense

Israel’s military response to Hamas’s October 7 terrorist attack has drawn a swift response from the United Nations. Since October 16, there have been 16 UN Security Council sessions and 10 resolutions drafted by member states on the conflict. However, instead of condemning Hamas for its horrific acts of terror, UN officials and member states have repeatedly condemned Israel.  The latest UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution, introduced by the United Arab Emirates and passed on December 22, called for “all parties” to follow international law and strongly implied that Israel is engaging in war crimes. The United States abstaining from voting on, rather than vetoing, this resolution is a dangerous divergence from its positive ac...

UPDATE – IDF Deaths Highlight Perils of Urban Warfare

Since the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) began ground operations in Gaza on October 27, 175 Israeli troops have been killed. However, terrorists in Gaza have killed IDF soldiers at a roughly 29 percent higher daily rate since December 1, after which the IDF pushed into southern Gaza following the one-week pause in combat operations to allow for hostage releases. This underscores the dangers of urban warfare, highlights the intensity of recent operations, particularly in southern Gaza, suggests that Hamas may have exploited the pause to prepare for more effective combat, and likely reflects increasing IDF reliance on ground forces, relative to air power, risking greater numbers of IDF casualties while protecting civilians. It also demonstrates ...

Seventh U.S. Strike Amid Over 100 Iran-backed Attacks in Iraq and Syria

Following two Iran-backed attacks that critically injured a U.S. service member and wounded two other U.S. personnel, U.S. airstrikes on December 25 hit three Iran-linked facilities in Iraq. There have now been at least 105 attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria and seven U.S. airstrikes since October 7, exceeding the nearly 90 attacks against U.S. personnel and five U.S. responses during the previous two-and-half years of the Biden administration. While the rate of Iran-backed attacks against U.S. personnel has dropped in the last two weeks, it is not because the Iranian regime has been deterred by U.S. strikes. Instead, Iranian aggres-sion has shifted primarily to the Red Sea, where the Houthis have increased attacks on ships, wh...

IDF Deaths Highlight Perils of Urban Warfare

Since the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) began ground operations in Gaza on October 27, 139 Israeli troops have been killed. However, terrorists in Gaza have killed IDF soldiers at a roughly 30 percent higher daily rate since December 1, following the pause in combat operations to allow for hostage releases and after the IDF pushed into southern Gaza. This underscores the dangers of urban warfare, highlights the intensity of recent operations, suggests that Hamas may have exploited the pause to prepare for more effective combat, and likely reflects increasing IDF reliance on ground forces, relative to air power, risking greater numbers of casualties. Click here to read the NatSec Brief.

To Counter Hezbollah Aggression, Strengthen U.S. Support for Israel

The Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah and other terrorist groups in Lebanon have attacked Israel on a near daily basis since Hamas’s October 7 invasion—there have been roughly 244 projectile attacks in 73 days according to JINSA’s research, and other organizations have documented higher quantities. As a result, roughly 80,000 Israelis have evacuated from communities along the northern border. Restoring Israel’s security, and returning Israelis to their homes, will require not just defeating Hamas but also ensuring, whether diplomatically or militarily, that Hezbollah does not and cannot attack from the north. Yet, recent U.S. diplomatic efforts to negotiate an Israel-Lebanon border deal, as well as U.S. pronouncements that eq...

Israel Prioritizes Civilian Safety in Southern Gaza Campaign Despite Hamas Efforts

Even as it has expanded its military campaign to eliminate Hamas into the southern Gaza Strip, Israel has taken numerous, unparalleled measures aimed at reducing harm to civilians, including designating humanitarian safe zones, regularly updating a map on social media giving advance notice of those neighborhoods in which it will and will not strike, continuing to operate humanitarian corridors to evacuate Palestinian civilians to safety, and facilitating increased shipments of humanitarian aid by opening additional border crossings. Hamas, meanwhile, continues to exploit these Israeli precautions to launch attacks, steal humanitarian assistance, and attempt to delegitimize Israel. Despite Israeli efforts to protect civilians, it faces in...

New Maritime Task Force Needs Credible Military Force for Successful Deterrence

Amid a now almost daily drumbeat of attacks by the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen against commercial shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, the United States announced on December 18 the formation of a multinational naval task force, called Operation Prosperity Guardian, to better protect commercial vessels traveling through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Though U.S. attention to the issue is encouraging, to the task force as currently configured appears more focused on defend against Houthi attacks—which U.S. and partner forces currently deployed to the region were already doing—rather than deterring and preventing more Houthi attacks. Unless efforts at providing greater protection to ships sailing through international waterway...

Red Cross Violates Mission of Impartial Humanitarian Assistance

In the over 70 days since Hamas took more than 240 hostages from Israel on October 7, the International Committee of the Red Cross has yet to visit the hostages. Also troubling, the Red Cross has issued only limited criticism of Hamas’s hostage-taking—an explicit violation of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions—while repeatedly criticizing, either explicitly or implicitly, Israel’s conduct in the war. The Red Cross’s criticisms of Israel not only violate the organization’s own policy of remaining "impartial, neutral and independent,” but also run counter to the organization’s raison d'être—described in the Geneva Convention—of providing neutral care in warzones. To hold the Red Cross accountable and ensure it...

EU Foreign Policy Chief Defames Israel With Baseless Claims

On December 11, 2023, European Union (EU) High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said that “if you compare what happened in the German cities bombed during the Second World War, there are reports that have been published in this regard that indicate that the level of destruction in Gaza is higher.” Borrell’s statement reveals the ahistorical and non-factual basis of criticisms of Israel. Allied bombing of German cities, such as Hamburg and Dresden, during World War II resulted in much greater, and faster, death and destruction than Israel’s careful and precise operations in Gaza. In just two days in February 1945, for example, allied bombers dropped almost 4,000 bombs on Dresden, killing some 3...

Iran on Nuclear Precipice as Oversight Dwindles

Iran’s dangerous belief in its deterrent edge over the United States and Israel, which is painfully apparent in Tehran’s unrequited proxy attacks and other pressures against both countries since October 7, is compounded by its expanding capacity to produce a survivable arsenal’s worth of weapons-grade uranium in short order, and by the outside world’s growing uncertainty about how close it is to achieving all the elements of a nuclear weapon. Having just missed a great chance to revive serious international pushback on Iran’s illegal activities, and with Tehran having just flipped the most credible obstacle to its continued nuclear aggression – Israel’s military readiness – on its head by bogging Israeli forces down in Ga...

Failure to Deter Houthi Attacks Endangers Global Shipping

On December 3, the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen launched projectile attacks in the Red Sea against three commercial vessels—the M/V Unity Explorer, the M/V Number 9, and the M/V Sophie II. Iran effectively now sits astride and can harass commercial traffic through two economically vital waterways—the Strait of Hormuz in the Arabian Gulf and Bab el-Mandeb in the Red Sea. The effects of the Houthis' attacks are already having an economic impact. Insurance costs for commercial shipping through the Red Sea have nearly tripled while some ships have chosen to avoid the region altogether by taking the longer and more costly route around Africa. The United States has at least responded with force to some Iran-backed attacks on U.S. forces in...

Hamas War Crimes Harm Palestinians and Israelis Alike

Though it is Israel most commonly, and wrongly, accused of war crimes in the media or by international organizations, Hamas has committed numerous human rights violations and war crimes since the war began. Not just when it murdered, burned, raped, and kidnapped Israeli civilians on October 7, but also against the Palestinian civilians of the Gaza Strip. These include operating from civilian facilities, diverting aid from Palestinians, beating up Palestinians trying to access aid, and shooting at civilian convoys evacuating the combat zone of northern Gaza.    These acts stand directly in contravention of the law of armed conflict (LOAC), which prohibits combatants from operating from civilian areas, failing to take measures to protec...

The United States Must Re-Designate the Houthis as Terrorists

After a spate of recent Houthi attacks on Israel, commercial shipping, and U.S. naval vessels, the Biden administration announced on November 21 that it is considering re-adding the Iran-backed group—also known as Ansar Allah—to the U.S. lists of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) and Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT). The administration had previously de-listed the group in February 2021. Given that the Houthis continue to act violently across the Middle East, acknowledging that they are a terrorist group is a necessary and important step. Re-designating the Houthis would enable greater U.S. asset freezes and seizures of Iran-linked funds, and authorize the United States to impose greater restrictions on the funds and...

First Preemptive U.S. Strike Since 10/7

On December 3, the United States launched an airstrike against Iran-backed terrorists in Iraq as they prepared to launch a drone attack against U.S. forces. This was the first known use of preemptive U.S. military force to disrupt an attack before it could occur since a wave of Iran-backed assaults on U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria began last month. The U.S. strike occurred shortly after Iran-backed terrorist groups attacked U.S. forces in both Iraq and Syria on December 3. There have now been at least 76 attacks on U.S. forces in the last seven weeks—and six U.S. responses. The resumption of Iran-backed attacks against U.S. personnel, after Tehran’s proxies in Iraq and Syria observed the pause in combat between Israel and Hamas f...

10/7 Attack Highlights Need to Sanction Iran-Backed Terrorists

Iran and Hezbollah have been supportive of, complicit in, and/or participants in the war against Israel launched on October 7 with Hamas’s savage attack against Israel. Iranian proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon has continually attacked Israeli civilian and military targets. In addition, reports have emerged alleging Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) involvement in Hamas’s attack. The United States, together with Israel, has already designated all three groups—Hamas, Hezbollah, and the IRGC—as terrorist organizations. Indeed, the U.S. Treasury Department just announced on November 29 sanctions on more than 20 individuals and entities for working to facilitate funding to Iranian entities including the IRGC. Yet, Washington ...

First U.S. Strikes in Iraq Amid Iran-backed Escalation

On November 21 and 22, the United States conducted three strikes against Iran-linked forces after a close-range ballistic missile attack against the Ain al-Asad base in Iraq caused eight injuries. The first U.S. strike was a spontaneous attack by a U.S. AC-130J “Ghostrider” gunship, which returned fire and killed several of the militants who had launched the missile. Later, the United States carried out two additional strikes against deliberately selected infrastructure targets in Iraq connected to the Iran-backed groups responsible for the attack. Since groups backed by the Tehran regime began attacking U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq in the aftermath of Hamas’ savage October 7 attack on Israel, the AC-130J fire was the most immediate ...

U.S. Iran Policy Unchanged Despite Iranian Involvement in 10/7

Since Hamas’s horrific October 7 massacre of some 1,200 people in Israel, mostly civilians, the Biden administration has acknowledged Iran’s broad complicity in the attacks because of its support for Hamas. The administration has also acknowledged Iranian proxies’ willingness to continue attacks against U.S. personnel and interests in the Middle East. Despite this, the administration’s accommodationist policy toward Iran remains unchanged, as most recently demonstrated by its extension of a sanctions waiver to allow Iraq to pay Iran for electricity using a previously frozen $10 billion account. U.S. Iran policy needs to catch up to the reality that the current Gaza war, and escalating violence around the region, would not have been ...

United States Permits Iran to Receive Billions in Iraqi Payments

Despite the Iranian regime’s money and weapons enabling its proxy Hamas to attack Israel on October 7 and take and hold at least nine Americans hostage, as well as ongoing Iranian-backed attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria, on November 13, the United States granted a sanctions waiver to several countries - enabling Iran to access billions of dollars-worth of payments from Iraq for energy. The United States took extra and unusual steps to allow Iran’s access to these payments in Euros instead of the typical Iraqi Dinar. Additional reports indicate China may now be helping the Iranian regime launder these funds for nefarious purposes. Congress should rescind these waivers and help Iraq expedite its efforts to wean itself off Iranian ...

Israeli Precautions Save Palestinian Lives

Much as during previous Gaza conflicts, international media and multinational organizations have regularly condemned Israeli combat operations in Gaza on the grounds that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) jeopardize Palestinian lives by carelessly carrying out military operations in civilian areas. However, as events throughout the war—including the IDF’s recently-announced daily four-hour opening of a humanitarian corridor from northern Gaza to southern Gaza—have repeatedly shown, Israel has steadfastly worked to protect Palestinian lives, even at great risk to its own soldiers and at the risk of undermining its strategic objectives.   IDF measures to protect Palestinians in Gaza include precautions implemented before and during it...

Iran-backed Escalation Against U.S. Forces Persists Despite 3rd Round of U.S. Strikes

On November 12, the United States conducted its third round of airstrikes against Iran-linked targets in Syria since October 17, when Iran-backed groups began attacking U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas war. In the twenty-three days since, there have been at least 52 attacks on U.S. forces, 56 American injuries, and one related casualty. Faced with this escalation, the Biden administration had been relying on the same approach it used when dealing with similar attacks before October 7. Its two prior airstrikes (on October 26 and November 8) fit a pattern of infrequent and limited U.S. strikes coupled with rhetoric that was more conciliatory than bellicose. That approach failed to deter the Iranian ...

Iranian Regime Continues Escalation, Despite Limited U.S. Strikes

On November 8, the United States conducted its second round of airstrikes against Iran-linked targets in Syria since the Israel-Hamas war began on October 7. As part of that broader conflict, beginning on October 17, Iran-backed groups have launched a rapid, sustained escalation of attacks against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria that has become increasingly dangerous. In the twenty-three days since, there have been forty-six attacks on U.S. forces, fifty-six American injuries, and one related casualty. Iran’s Yemeni proxy, the Houthis, have also entered the conflict, firing missiles at Israel and downing a U.S. drone on November 8. Faced with this escalation, the Biden administration has relied on the same approach it used when dealin...

U.S. Aid to Gaza Almost Certain to End Up in Hamas Hands

On October 18, the White House announced that it would send approximately $100 million in humanitarian aid to Gaza and the West Bank. Although the administration offered scant details, given the lack of other organizations present on the ground, it is most likely this aid would be distributed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Unfortunately, both groups have a history, including in the current conflict, of either failing to stop terrorists from appropriating aid meant for civilians or of, in the PA’s case, actively “incentivizing terror,” in the words of Congress. UNRWA in Gaza’s former operations head, Matthias Schmale, said in 2021 that UNRWA “cannot work in a place ...

In Speech, Nasrallah Explains Hezbollah’s Role in War with Israel

On November 3, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah gave his first public remarks since Hamas’s October 7 attack. Superficially, the speech was intended to recognize “martyrs.” But it also served to put Hamas’s attack in the broader context of Iran’s and, according to Nasrallah, the entire region’s ambition to eradicate Israel. Although Nasrallah went to pains to describe 10/7 as a “Palestinian” operation, he also wanted to make sure that Hezbollah got credit for doing “more than it did in 2006” and signal that it will continue its current cross-border attacks and but remain below the threshold of opening the northern front, for now. His remarks suggest he is trying to thread the needle and keep Hezbollah’s ...

Houthi Attacks Highlight Need for Developing Regional Integrated Air Defenses

On October 31—amid the Israel-Gaza war—Israel used its Arrow air defense system to intercept a ballistic missile en route to Eilat in southern Israel likely fired by the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen, and on October 19, the Houthis fired a barrage of cruise missiles and drones over the Red Sea toward Israel. The U.S. Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Carney intercepted four missiles and thirty drones and Saudi Arabia intercepted one missile. These attacks provide a stark reminder of the deadly “ring of fire” that Iran and its proxies have established around America’s troops and partners in the Middle East. However, Saudi Arabia’s interception of a missile headed toward Israel underscores the potential and benefits in terms of ear...

Emergency Supplemental Funding for Israel – The Current State of Play

In the aftermath of the horrific Hamas terrorist attack against Israel on October 7 in which more than 1,400 people were murdered – including at least 35 American nationals – JINSA President Michael Makovsky, PhD urged: “It is critical that the United States remain a committed partner to Israel and fortify the foundations of peace… it is not enough for American leaders to rhetorically support the Jewish state. Israel needs concrete military assistance to defend itself.” Click here to read the NatSec Brief. Author Matt Kenney - Vice President for Government Affairs

United States Undermines Deterrent Value of Its Strikes Against Iran-linked Targets

Overnight on October 26, the United States conducted its first airstrikes against Iran-linked tar-gets since the start of the Israel-Gaza war on October 7. The U.S. airstrikes were clearly in-tended to build deterrence against the Iranian regime and its proxies amid an Iran-backed escalation against U.S. forces in the Middle East. Yet, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s statement after the airstrikes and reporting that the Biden administration only launched the strikes after learning of an American fatality undermined their deterrent value by indicating a reluctance to use military force. Regardless of the cost that the recent U.S. airstrike imposed, deterring Tehran and its proxy groups will require consistent and strong military force ...

Israel-Hamas and the Law of Armed Conflict

As in previous conflicts with Hamas and Hezbollah, Israel’s military operations in Gaza face prevalent accusations that they often result in war crimes and that Israel’s actions to defend itself against armed attacks are unjustified or unlawful. As a result, it is crucially important to clarify the key principles of the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) and the systematic efforts by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to comply with the requirements of these laws – even as its adversaries like Hamas systemically violate this law and exploit widespread misunderstandings of LOAC to delegitimize Israel’s self-defense measures and generate pressure on Israel to limit or terminate legally justified military action. Click here to read the NatSe...

Rebuilding U.S. Deterrence to Counter Iran-led Escalation

The Biden administration’s warnings of “don’t” and its force buildup across the greater Middle East are highly welcome and necessary, but still far from sufficient, to deter Tehran and its proxies from dangerously escalating the Israel-Hamas conflict amid an impending Israeli ground operation in Gaza. By gauging U.S. willingness to respond and seeking to undermine the administration’s pledges to support Israel and prevent a broader war, the recent spate of regionwide Iran-backed attacks on U.S. forces shows how much work remains for the United States to overcome its profound credibility deficit in Tehran’s eyes, maximize the prospects for successful deterrence, and fully prepare to deny or mitigate any ensuing escalation if dete...

Iran-Backed Attacks Risk Escalating Israel-Hamas Conflict

Amid the Israel-Gaza war, terrorist attacks in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen on October 18-22 targeted or came near U.S. forces in the Middle East. The concurrent Iran-backed attacks against U.S. forces and Israel strongly indicate the Iranian regime is seeking to gauge and erode U.S. willingness to continue supporting Israel’s self-defense and deter further U.S. deployments to the region or military action to support Israel and prevent Iran from escalating the conflict. The United States should bolster its military and diplomatic support for Israel and use consistent, strong military force against any group that endangers U.S. service members. Click here to read the NatSec Brief. Authors Ari Cicurel - Assistant Director of Foreign ...

The Other Front of Israel’s War: Disinformation Operations By Hamas and Its Supporters

On October 17, after facing allegations by Palestinian officials for a blast at Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza City that killed hundreds, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) produced satellite footage and recordings that confirmed the blast was in fact the result of an attack by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). After releasing a statement calling for the review of the evidence, President Biden acknowledged that indeed Israel was not behind it, but rather that “the other team” was. Nonetheless, over the previous day, the main news outlets of record ran the narrative that implicated Israel in the explosion. The event highlights the pervasive and persistent volume of disinformation pushed by Hamas and its supporters about Israel since Hamas ...

Iranian Influence Operations Threaten U.S. National Security

In the wake of Hamas’s horrifying attack on Israel on October 7, the terrorist group is once again seeking to shape the information environment to create international pressure that compels Israel to stop its operations before achieving its objectives. Reliance on influence operations is straight out of the playbook of Hamas’s chief benefactor: Iran. Recent reports from Semafor and Iran International of a high-level Iranian influence campaign implicating current and former U.S. government officials, if accurate, represent just one of the myriad examples of systemic Iranian efforts over the last decade to subvert the American policymaking process. JINSA has cataloged Iranian operations in the United States that: provide access to sy...

Hospital Explosion Latest in String of Hundreds of Hamas and PIJ Misfires

On Tuesday, October 17, an explosion at a hospital in Gaza resulted in more than 400 deaths. Hamas claimed that the explosion was due to an Israeli airstrike, part of the group’s effective disinformation strategy to delegitimize Israel. However, the Israel Defense Forces moved quickly to provide clear evidence, which the United States later confirmed, that a misfired Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket was responsible. Such misfires, and resulting Gazan casualties, are a common occurrence during Gaza conflicts. A JINSA assessment of the 2021 Gaza conflict indicated that as many as fifteen percent of all rockets fired by militants misfired, many of them landing inside Gaza, and were responsible for about seventeen percent of all civilian casu...

Biden’s October 18 Visit to Israel: An Opportunity to Change Policy on Iran

President Joe Biden arrived in Israel on Wednesday, October 18. The visit is the latest demonstration of staunch U.S. support for Israel as it seeks to eliminate the threat from Hamas, the terrorist group that carried out the horrific October 7 attack. But Hamas alone is not responsible for that attack; it would not have been possible without Iranian support. In addition to U.S. support for Israel’s operation in Gaza and defending Israel against spurious accusations of war crimes, like the recent hospital explosion in Gaza, President Biden should use his visit to Israel as an opportunity to announce a change in U.S. policy on Iran—away from accommodation and toward regime collapse. Click here to read the NatSec Brief. Authors ...

The Next Unthinkable Attack: Growing Risks of a Third Lebanon War

Author Jonathan Ruhe - Director of Foreign Policy Executive Summary Hamas’ October 7 shock attack, and escalating tensions on the Israel-Lebanon border, are forcing Israel to reassess if its frayed deterrence can hold off massive conflict in the north while it undertakes in Gaza what could be its most demanding operation in decades. Since at least last year’s Israel-Lebanon maritime boundary deal, Hezbollah has acted increasingly emboldened to escalate militarily what was long thought to be a fairly quiet frontier to Israel’s north, as its leader Hassan Nasrallah leveraged his group’s tightening coordination with other Iranian proxies to gauge and erode what he perceived as weakening Israeli deterrence and declining ...

A Year Later, Iranian Regime Still Attacking Women, U.S. Still Ineffectual

A year later, and nothing has changed. Last week, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s so-called “morality police” reportedly attacked 16-year-old Armita Geravand on a metro in Tehran for allegedly not wearing the hijab. She is now in a coma with head trauma. This incident serves as a reminder of the Iranian regime’s continued repression of its people one year and one month following the death of Mahsa Amini, an Iranian-Kurdish woman whose murder ignited widespread protests throughout the country. That Iran keeps brutalizing its women underscores that—despite largely symbolic actions like imposing sanctions and awarding an Iranian activist the Nobel Peace Prize—the United States and its partners have failed to hold the Iranian regi...

U.S. Should Invest In Electronic Warfare As Adversaries Advance

U.S. adversaries—China, Russia, and Iran—have recently demonstrated that they are developing and using increasingly more sophisticated electronic warfare (EW) capabilities. As “our most advanced adversaries have done their best to rapidly evolve,” according to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Charles Q. Brown, the military has “lost some muscle memory” in the EW domain. To regain the advantage in this important form of warfare, the United States should explore including Israel, a world leader in electronic warfare research and development, in existing and new initiatives to bridge the capabilities gap. As part of these initiatives, the United States should also attempt to integrate other Middle East partners seeking...

How To Support the Upcoming Wave of Iranian Protests

Iranians are likely to take to the streets this September in commemoration of the one-year anniversary of the killing of Mahsa Amini and the hundreds of protestors the Iranian regime killed in the ensuing revolt. In preparation, Iran’s security apparatus has begun preemptively cracking down on activists and has arrested Amini’s uncle and lawyer in a bid to tamp down on further dissent. The Biden administration promised to “stand with the Iranian people” in its U.S. National Security Strategy but instead has undercut its symbolic sanctions by enriching the regime with ransom payments and unenforced sanctions. On this anniversary, the administration should live up to its commitment to democracy and the Iranian people by launchin...

The United States Provides $6 Billion Ransom to Iran

On August 10, the Biden administration announced a hostage deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran that will see five U.S. hostages released in exchange for the release of five Iranian prisoners and $6 billion of frozen Iranian funds previously held in South Korean banks. The U.S. prisoners have currently been released from prison in Tehran and placed on house arrest. They were wrongfully detained – some for several years – and their release should be celebrated. Bringing Americans home should always be a priority, but must not be done in a way that places even more Americans in danger going forward. While the release of Iranian prisoners – mostly convicted for sanctions violations – was necessary to facilitate the release of U.S....

Iran Conducts Naval Drills as U.S. Prepares Marine Deployment on Commercial Ships

The United States reportedly is planning to deploy Marines aboard commercial vessels in vital Middle Eastern waterways amid Tehran’s escalating maritime aggression in the area, including recent drills by Iranian naval forces on and around contested islands near the Strait of Hormuz. The lack of credible U.S. deterrence thus far has emboldened Iran to increase its naval harassment in the region and led U.S. partners to rethink their cooperation with the United States over concerns that Washington is not committed to upholding regional stability. The move to protect commercial ships, if implemented with a clear willingness to use force when necessary, together with other recent enhancements to U.S. force posture around the Gulf, are importa...

U.S. and Israel Display Combat Capabilities, But Deterrence Against Iran Still Deficient

The United States appears to be trying to increase its deterrent signaling toward Iran. The U.S.-Israel Juniper Oak 23.3 military exercise in mid-July—the eighth joint training already this year—and the late-July deployment of U.S. combat aircraft, naval vessels, and Marines to the Middle East are all clearly geared toward demonstrating U.S. military capabilities. But such activities are not enough to convince Tehran that America has a willingness to act itself—or support its Israeli partner in acting—against Iran’s nuclear program or regional aggression. To show that it remains undeterred, Iran has launched its own military exercises and weapons displays in recent weeks. To bolster deterrence in the region, the United States ...

U.S.-Israel Tensions Harm Key U.S. Interests

On Wednesday, Israeli President Isaac Herzog addressed a joint session of Congress after meeting President Biden the day before. Herzog’s visit—absent a similar visit from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu— does more to highlight the rocky state of U.S.-Israel relations than it does to signal enduring partnership among two friends. On average, for each of the last ten Israeli prime ministerial terms, the new prime minister met the U.S. president within 64 days of taking office. It has now been more than 200 days since Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected, yet the Israeli prime minister has still not met with Biden. An invitation was extended the day before Herzog’s visit began but reportedly not to the White House. Biden’s co...

Israel Targets Terrorist Infrastructure in Jenin

On July 3, Israel launched a large, 48 hour-long counter-terrorist operation in the West Bank city of Jenin following at least 50 terrorist attacks targeting Israeli civilians originating from the city in recent months. Unlike previous Israeli actions aimed at establishing deterrence against terrorist organizations, Operation Home and Garden—which, despite its size and scope, resulted in the death of only 12 terrorists and no civilians— sought to create favorable conditions for future operations in Jenin against the Iranian-backed terrorist groups Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Hamas. These groups’ ability to ensconce themselves in and fortify Jenin has been a result of a weakened Palestinian Authority (PA) and Tehran’s larger ...

What’s In Biden’s New Nuclear “Not-a-Deal” with Iran?

Despite proclaiming that “rumors about a nuclear deal, interim or otherwise, are false and misleading…” the Biden administration reportedly has indeed been negotiating a limited nuclear and hostage agreement with Iran. Except, in their words, the Biden administration is negotiating an “informal, unwritten agreement” – but definitely not a “deal.” Much remains unknown about this “not-a-deal” – including why the administration would not want a written agreement to hold Iran accountable, other than to keep the deal’s contents away from Congress and the public – but its basic contours have been disclosed by credible reporters, citing diplomatic sources across the United States, Europe, Israel, and Iran. Some additio...

Abbas Goes to China

The United States might not be interested in the Middle East, but China is. In the latest of a series of diplomatic maneuvers in the region, Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomed Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority, to Beijing, announced a “strategic partnership” between the two sides, and declared his willingness to help negotiate a two-state peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. This is part of an accelerating Chinese efforts to compete with the United States across all elements of national power and erode and displace America’s international primacy, following the recent China-brokered rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia to resume diplomatic ties in March. This particular outreach to the Palest...

Washington Unlocks Frozen Iranian Funds

There have been several indications in recent weeks that the United States and Iran are trying to reach an interim and unofficial nuclear deal that would provide Iran with significant financial windfall and circumvent U.S. legal requirements for congressional review. The most direct indication that such a deal is in process is the recent U.S. moves to unfreeze billions of dollars in Iranian funds, currently frozen in banks around the world. Meanwhile, Iran’s Supreme Leader has expressed new support for a nuclear agreement. The release of any frozen Iranian funds would supercharge the Iranian regime’s terror efforts and support for Russia’s war against Ukraine. They should only be released in exchange for permanent and irreversible ...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 6/6

Visit our Iran Status Page Authors Shay Khatiri - Senior Policy Analyst Negotiations Status: Talking about Talks  Although President Joe Biden declared in December that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was dead, his administration appears to be pursuing a shorter nuclear agreement with Iran—and negotiations for such a deal appear poised to resume soon. Even as the administration maintains that diplomacy is still the best option to prevent a nuclear Iran, the White House continues to insist that reviving the JCPOA “is just not on the agenda right now.” As early as March 2023, the Biden administration floated the idea of a “freeze for freeze” interim nuclear deal to European allies an...

Countering Iranian Maritime Aggression

Iran is becoming increasingly aggressive at sea. Its seizures of three international tankers and harassment of a fourth tanker in the last month mark at least the 40th episode of Iranian maritime aggression in two years— aggression that neither the United States nor its partners have responded to with credible deterrent efforts. To be sure, protecting global commerce is a collective responsibility. U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) has pushed full steam ahead to build out military capabilities and partnerships to keep regional waters safe. Although greater capabilities are still needed—especially autonomous sensors that can quickly detect Iran’s preferred tactic of using fast attack craft the major challenges to respondin...

Israel’s Operation Shield and Arrow Recap

Israel’s Operation Shield and Arrow against the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist group in Gaza ended after five days with a ceasefire on May 13. It was the fourth round of hostilities between Israel and Gaza-based terrorists in just five years and the third to involve only PIJ and not the much larger Hamas. Nor is it likely to be the last such conflict. Operation Shield and Arrow is unlikely to have changed the dynamics that are driving PIJ’s attacks and making them increasingly frequent. Israel succeeded in its operational objectives to eliminate PIJ leaders and degrade the Iran-backed terrorist group’s capabilities without Hamas joining the fighting. Yet the decision to target only PIJ, despite Hamas violati...

Israel’s Operation Shield and Arrow

Israel initiated Operation Shield and Arrow on May 9 with airstrikes that killed three senior members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), an Iranian proxy in Gaza, a week after the terrorist group fired over 100 rockets at Israel. Following that attack and a multi-front offensive by Iranian-backed groups in April, Israel is determined to enforce redlines and rebuild deterrence specifically against PIJ—and its Iranian patron. Israel also appears to be pursuing a relatively new strategy of trying to separate PIJ from Hamas, explicitly targeting only the former. So far, this strategy appears to be working as Hamas has avoided becoming directly involved. The United States should ensure that Israel has the time to pursue its objectives, rapid...

Israel Faces Multifront Escalation

Last week’s attacks against Israel from southern Lebanon, Gaza, and Syria reflected unprecedented coordination among Iran-backed terrorist groups that surround Israel, led by Hamas with Hezbollah’s assent, as well as these groups’ growing abilities to launch rapid and large multifront projectile barrages. This assault seeks to gauge Israel’s readiness to respond—and more generally to erode Israeli deterrence—amid Israel’s perceived weakness and distractions from internal tensions, Tehran’s emergence from its regional isolation, and uncertainties about America’s commitments to Israel and Middle East security. The United States urgently must stop distancing itself from Israel’s concerted efforts to counter Iranian-led aggr...

President Biden’s Budget Request

President Joe Biden’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 budget request calls for $886 billion in defense spending, in what Secretary Austin calls “the most strategy-driven request we’ve ever produced” to focus on confronting the pacing challenge from the People's Republic of China. Meanwhile, U.S. Central Command’s importance appears to be decreasing. CENTCOM Commander Gen. Erik Kurilla testified earlier this month “our forces decreased 15% over the course of 2022 alone” and that his command has seen “a reduction of 85% from its 2008 peak.” Although the Biden administration touts its defense budget request as the largest ever, given inflation, it actually represents a decrease in real spending on defense and concomitant loss of pur...

Deadly Iranian-linked Drone Attack in Syria

An Iranian-linked drone attack in Syria killed an American contractor and wounded six other Americans on March 23. Later that day, the United States conducted airstrikes against facilities of the Iranian-backed militia responsible for the attack, reportedly killing eight fighters. This was only the fourth Biden administration response to any of the roughly seventy-eight attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria since the start of 2021. Importantly, it was also the strongest and swiftest. Nevertheless, the U.S. response was not sufficient to deter further Iranian attacks. The next day, March 24, Iranian proxies retaliated against U.S. forces near the al-Omar oil field in northern Syria, with no casualties immediately reported. This appears...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 3/15

Visit our Iran Status Page Authors Anna Schaftel - Programs and Outreach Associate Negotiation status: dead or alive? Despite previously admitting privately the JCPOA was “dead,” since January Biden Administration officials have wavered on the status of the deal and nuclear diplomacy with Iran. On January 30, U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley said diplomacy is “still the priority... diplomacy never ends.” On February 21, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “we’ve also been clear that the Iran nuclear deal, the so-called JCPOA, is not now on the table…” before adding, “the door is always open to diplomacy going forward, but a lot depends on what Iran says and does….” On Marc...

Expanding Middle East Maritime Security Cooperation

Fifty nations, including Israel, and international organizations from around the world are currently participating in the U.S.-led International Maritime Exercise (IMX) and Cutlass Express (CE) joint training exercises in Middle Eastern waters. The global interest in these drills—far more than in any regional air- or ground-based exercise—indicates significant international concern about the region’s maritime security, which is directly threatened by Iran’s repeated aggression at sea. In the last two years, JINSA has recorded thirty-four incidents of Iranian naval aggression. Since Israel is often the target of Iranian attacks at sea and has significant relevant technological capabilities, to better protect the region’s critica...

Iran’s Nuclear Advances While U.S. Diplomacy Dithers

Iran has tiptoed to the very edge of a nuclear weapons capability: according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Tehran has now enriched uranium to 84 percent, its highest level ever and just shy of weapons-grade (90 percent). Meanwhile, the Biden administration is engaged in a months-long public debate with itself about whether to continue negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran, as shown in a new JINSA infographic. President Biden has admitted the deal is dead, while other officials repeatedly insist diplomacy must continue. Yet, Iran’s nuclear advances continue to shorten and weaken what was already an unacceptable JCPOA nuclear deal to the point of insignificance. In the year since American officials first idly warned t...

Infographic: Iran Nuclear Deal: Out of Time, Dead, or Alive?

For nearly a year and a half, beginning in mid-2021, U.S. and European officials repeatedly warned that time was running out to revive the nuclear deal with Iran. Yet, they never walked away from negotiations. Western policy on Iran has only grown more confused since September 2022, when Tehran rejected U.S. & EU proposals and killed Mahsa Amini, sparking revolutionary protests. President Biden himself admitted, albeit unofficially, that the JCPOA was dead. Nevertheless, U.S. and EU officials have since continued to insist they remain committed to diplomacy. It’s time the United States make up its mind and publicly acknowledge the reality that nuclear diplomacy with Iran has failed, and move on to Plan B.

Infographic: The IRGC’s Dangerous Campaign in Europe Map

The European Union has not yet labelled Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization—despite it being involved in numerous terrorist attacks and plots on European territory. According to a new JINSA infographic, the IRGC has conducted 33 terrorist attacks in Europe since 2012 and been caught conducting espionage on several occasions. Recently, the IRGC has transferred drones to Russia and deployed military officials to help Moscow conduct its illegal invasion of Ukraine. It is time for the EU to recognize what the United States already has: the IRGC is a terrorist organization.

Biden Hasn’t Given an Iran Speech, State of the Union is His Opportunity

President Biden has made a mainstay of his foreign policy standing up for democracy around the world and supporting U.S. partners fighting against aggressive authoritarian states, mentioning these topics in nearly 50 speeches over the last two years. Except when it comes to Iran. Unlike his predecessors, two years into his tenure the president has never given a speech dedicated to Iran, neither supporting the democratic demands of protesters in Iran, helping America’s Middle East partners defend themselves against Iranian attacks, nor addressing the nuclear talks. His State of the Union address on February 7, 2023, presents the perfect opportunity to rectify this oversight. President Biden should use the State of Union to announce a P...

U.S.-Israel Exercises Signal Capabilities to Iran, Not U.S. Willingness to Strike

The United States and Israel recently concluded their largest ever combined military exercise, Juniper Oak, a massive, week-long, multidomain drill clearly designed to signal to Tehran the full extent of U.S.-Israeli joint military capability. This is the culmination of a two-year trend of U.S.-Israel exercises increasing in frequency and operational focus on the Iranian threat. Yet, as significant as the exercise was, it is unlikely that, by itself, it will serve as an effective deterrent against Iran. Deterring Iran from attaining a nuclear weapons capability requires convincing the Iranian regime that either the United States, on its own or together with Israel, or Israel operating on its own are not only capable, but willing to execu...

Israel Degrades Iranian Capabilities, Protects International Security

Multiple attacks over the past weekend against Iranian military targets—including sites reportedly linked to the production of drones possibly destined for use by Russia against Ukraine—likely represent a continuation of Israeli efforts to disrupt Iran’s proliferation of rockets, missiles, and drones across the Middle East and beyond, into Europe. If indeed conducted by Israel, these strikes demonstrate the Jewish state’s unique ability and determination to defend itself, as well as the interests of the United States, other regional partners, and even Europe, through bold and ingenious military action. The United States should adopt Israel’s policy of proactively preventing Iran’s proliferation of weaponry as well as assist Isra...

Infographic: 2023 Events to Watch

As 2023 begins, it is already proving to be an inflection point for U.S. cooperation with partners in the Middle East, efforts to thwart Iran’s nuclear and regional aggression, and the stability of the Iranian regime. The attached graphic details noteworthy events this year that JINSA will be closely watching to examine how they shape the security and stability of the Middle East. Look out for JINSA’s timely and detailed analysis on these and other issues throughout the year.

Upgrading U.S. Stockpile in Israel After Weapons Transfer to Ukraine

The Pentagon’s decision to transfer U.S. artillery to Ukraine from a prepositioned stockpile in Israel, known as WRSA-I, provides both crucial support to Kyiv and an overdue opportunity to review and upgrade the stockpile with vital weaponry to help Israel uphold shared interests in the Middle East. Working with Israel, the United States now should fulfill WRSA-I’s strategic purpose by replenishing it with precision guided munitions and potentially other much-needed systems for U.S., Israeli, and other partner operations. Click here to read the NatSec Brief. Authors Jonathan Ruhe - Director of Foreign Policy Ari Cicurel - Senior Policy Analyst

Marines Move Forward with Iron Dome

In a critical step toward better integrating American and Israel defense platforms and reaping the benefits of U.S. investment in Israeli defense technology, the Marine Corps has approved a mobile air defense platform based on Israel’s battle-proven and incredibly successful Iron Dome to move onto the next stage of testing and certification for eventual acquisition. This is an important development after the U.S. Army had previously acquired two Iron Dome batteries and opted not to purchase any more. The other U.S. military services should follow the Marine Corps’ lead and integrate proven Israeli air defense and other technologies. The United States should also leverage the technological capabilities of its Israeli partner by pursuing ...

2023 Starts with Strikes on U.S. Forces in Syria

Once again, U.S. forces in Syria have come under attack with Iran the most likely culprit. The two rockets fired at a U.S. base in northeast Syria on January 4 mark at least the 79th attack on American troops in Syria or Iraq since Biden took office in January 2021. The Biden administration has launched only three rounds of retaliatory strikes during this spate of attacks. This sporadic U.S. response has been too little and too infrequent to deter further Iranian aggression. The United States should quickly attribute blame for this latest attack and respond with strong, consistent military force against those responsible, including both the group that launched the rockets and their likely Iranian superiors. Click here to read the NatSec ...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 1/9

Visit our Iran Status Page Authors Andrew Ghalili - Senior Policy Analyst Stuart Harris - Intern Negotiation Status: DEAD (Still trying to revive it) In a noticeable adjustment, private rhetoric from the Biden administration has suggested that nuclear diplomacy with Iran is paused and that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is dead. Notably, however, no administration official has been willing to say as much publicly. Though the U.S. has placed additional sanctions on Iranian entities, and European countries have increased pressure on the Islamic Republic as well, neither the United States nor EU are willing to leave the negotiations table altogether. U.S. officials further entrench the stance of...

Congress’s New Confirmation Power Should Apply to Current Special Envoys

In a major change, the Senate is about to get significant new powers over an entire class of important diplomatic positions. Beginning in January 2023, U.S. Special Envoys—previously appointed at presidential discretion—will require Senate confirmation thanks to a provision included in the FY2022 National Defense Authorization Act. While there is ambiguity in the law, it strongly suggests that currently sitting Special Envoys reporting to the Secretary of State also require Senate confirmation, including Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley. There are 54 Special Envoy or similar positions of which 41 are currently filled. Congress should clarify whether the law applies to sitting Special Envoys. However, given the particular importance ...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 12/22

Visit our Iran Status Page Author Andrew Ghalili - Senior Policy Analyst  Negotiation Status: PAUSED (No Progress) Nuclear negotiations between the United States and Iran remain at a standstill as Iranian officials continue to push for restarting talks. Though U.S. officials have consistently said for months that a nuclear deal is no longer on the agenda, the European mediators of the negotiations have been less firm. The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borell, said on December 15, “We do not have a better option than the JCPOA to ensure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons. This remains in our own interest in spite of the fact that the nuclear deal remains in a stalemate and the escalati...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 11/14

Visit our Iran Status Page Author Andrew Ghalili - Senior Policy Analyst Negotiation Status: PAUSED (No Progress Made) Nuclear negotiations between the United States and Iran have been stagnant for several months as the Islamic Republic has been preoccupied with brutally repressing the Iranian citizens protesting for their freedom from the regime, and while the United States held its midterm elections. The last round of indirect talks between U.S. and Iranian officials at the negotiation headquarters in Vienna was held in August. With revolutionary protests continuing throughout Iran, U.S. elections were held on November 8, potentially creating room for the Biden administration to recommence indirect negotiation...

Keeping Russia Out of Alexandroupolis

The Greek government’s abrupt cancellation of U.S.-backed bids to privatize the strategic port of Alexandroupolis raises concerns about possible Russian interference, and threatens to undermine American, trans-Atlantic, and broader interests in expanding the port’s capacity. Given the high potential of Alexandroupolis to boost European energy security, NATO collective defense, and global food supplies in the wake of Moscow’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, Washington must get clarity from Athens about the decision while making clear its continued emphasis on ensuring the port receives the investments needed to grow its operations without falling into Russian hands. Click here to read the NatSec Brief. Author Jonathan Ruhe - Dir...

The Expanding Russia-Iran Arms Nexus

After deploying Iranian-made unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to devastating effect against Ukraine, Russia is now set to purchase Iranian short-range ballistic missiles—demonstrating growing ties between these two U.S. adversaries. Russia is currently the largest operator of Iranian UAVs anywhere, increasingly using them to target civilian positions away from the frontlines. However, Ukraine has reportedly shot down most of these drones. Ballistic missiles would be more dangerous than UAVs because they carry larger explosive payloads and are harder to defend against. Although Iranian missiles are unlikely to alter the balance of territorial control in Ukraine, they would further enable Russia to devastate Ukraine’s population and infras...

U.S. Overreaction to OPEC+ Production Cut

OPEC and its partners such as Russia, known as OPEC+, announced on October 5 that it will cut its total oil production quota by two million barrels per day. This decision, its impetus, and implications have been badly misunderstood in Washington. Rather than a drastic politically-motivated production cut that will send oil prices skyrocketing in order to aid Russia and spite the United States, the move will result in a modest actual production cut, based on economic considerations driven by OPEC+’s forecast of dwindling global oil demand. The United States should avoid overreacting to the OPEC+ decision and should reengage in discussions with Saudi officials on how to rebuild a more constructive partnership between Washington and Riyadh. ...

Israel Trades Future Gas for Drilling and Possible Security Today

Israel and Lebanon have agreed to a U.S.-mediated deal that demarcates the majority of their maritime border, granting Lebanon almost all of the territory it had originally laid claim to except for a critical, 5-kilometer-long security area near the coast. Lebanese President Michel Aoun, who leaves office on October 31, has approved the agreement. The Israeli government gave its initial approval and is set to have a final approval vote in the coming day, without submitting the deal to the Knesset for a vote. Israel’s security establishment has expressed unanimous support for the deal. The most important benefit of the deal for Israel is the ability to begin pumping natural gas as quickly as possible from the offshore Karish natural gas...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 10/14

Visit our Iran Status Page Author Andrew Ghalili - Senior Policy Analyst Negotiation Status: PAUSED Nuclear deal negotiations between Iran and the United States remain at a stalemate while the Islamic Republic attempts to violently suppress widespread anti-regime protests. In August and early September, the two countries were exchanging proposals through the European Union. The most recent exchange, however, occurred on September 1, when Iran sent demands that U.S. and EU officials claimed were “counterproductive.” Since then, the killing of a 22-year old Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini, in Tehran on September 16 sparked prolonged, nationwide protests, and provoked a brutal reaction from the regime.  On...

Iran’s Sanctioned Terror Airlines Still Fly Throughout Europe

In the past few weeks, Russia has used Iranian-made unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to attack Ukrainian forces and destroy U.S.-supplied military equipment. The three Iranian airlines that flew those UAVs to Russia—Mahan Air, Iran Air, and Qeshm Air—also operate commercial flights to European airports. By allowing these flights, even as NATO arms Ukraine to repel Russia’s illegal invasion, several alliance members, namely the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, and Turkey, are enabling a revenue stream that facilitates the transport of Iranian drones to Russia. The United States should impose additional sanctions on these Iranian airlines as well as strongly push European and other countries to fo...

Unparalleled Iranian Attack on Kurds

On September 28, Iran launched its single largest bombardment in decades—using 93 ballistic missiles and drones—against Kurdish targets in neighboring Iraq, killing at least 13, including a U.S. citizen. This escalation comes amid increasingly widespread protests against the Iranian regime following its killing of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish Iranian woman. Iran is falsely blaming—and attacking—Kurdish militants and outside forces, like, Saudi Arabia and Israel, to portray the protests as an ethnic struggle or external manipulation, rather than the grassroots, nation-wide anti-regime movement they have become. Tehran is also flaunting its capability to strike targets beyond its borders with impunity—perhaps in a warning to both protesto...

Civil Unrest Reaches “State of Explosion” in Iran

After nearly a week of escalating unrest in Iran, following the Iranian regime’s murder of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini on September 16 for “improper hijab,” President Biden uttered a brief, one-sentence remark at the United Nations yesterday in support of “the brave citizens and the brave women of Iran,” without mentioning Mahsa by name. The Biden Administration should be far more forceful in its support of Iranian women and the human rights of all Iranian people, particularly by removing obstacles to technology companies providing internet access beyond the regime’s control. This is the morally correct and wise policy, that will only enhance U.S. leverage with Iran. Meanwhile, the unrest, coming amid reports of Supreme Leader Ali K...

Russia Begins Using Iranian Drones Against Ukraine

Iran is supplying Russia with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Despite some early difficulties, Russia is now using the Iranian platforms for effective short-range air-to-ground attacks against frontline Ukrainian forces. This is in an effort to slow Ukraine’s counter-offensive while evading Ukrainian air defenses and without committing additional Russian forces. U.S. sanctions limiting Russia’s ability to buy Western components, particularly electronics, Iran’s readily available UAV arsenal despite extensive U.S. sanctions, and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action’s (JCPOA) elimination of the conventional arms embargo on Iran in 2020, have contributed to bringing these two pariah states and aggressors into closer cooperation. ...

Infographic: Iranian UAVs Transferred to Russia

Risks and Rewards of a Potential Israel-Lebanon Maritime Border Agreement

Israel and Lebanon are reportedly nearing a resolution to their disputed maritime border, which could enable each country to explore and exploit more fully offshore natural gas reserves. Yet, Hezbollah has threatened to disrupt these efforts. Concrete U.S. leadership is required, both to realize the regional benefits of the peaceful development of Eastern Mediterranean energy resources and to support Israel’s capability to deter and defend itself against aggression by Hezbollah and its Iranian backers. Click here to read the NatSec Brief. Author Ari Cicurel - Senior Policy Analyst This brief was made possible by the generous support of the Gettler Family Foundation and a portion of the research was conducted on...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 9/12

Visit our Iran Status Page Negotiation Status: PAUSED American and European officials now believe that a nuclear agreement between the United States and Iran is unlikely to be reached “in the near future.” Iran continues to insist that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) close its investigation into suspected undeclared, and illegal, Iranian efforts to build a nuclear weapon – a probe which is wholly separate from Iran’s obligations under a renewed nuclear deal. Though Iran had consistently said it wouldn’t enter an agreement until the probe was ended, it had not previously demanded that such assurances be included in the text of the agreement. E3: Not Convinced Iran Wants a Deal France, Ger...

Analysis: Iran Still Wants More

Visit our Iran Status Page In the 3rd exchange of indirect proposals between Iran and the United States since the EU sent what it called the “final” text to Iran, Tehran has sent another response, which U.S. negotiators are now studying. Despite Iran’s disappointing response and repeated claims that time is running out for negotiations, the Biden administration indicated it wants to keep talking. Click here to read the NatSec Brief. Click here to view infographic: “Final” Iran Deal Still Open for Debate Author Andrew Ghalili - Senior Policy Analyst

Iran Tries to Steal U.S. Maritime Drone

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) made the brazen attempt to capture a U.S. unmanned surface vessel (USV) overnight on August 29. Another example of Iran’s increased regional aggression against U.S. targets, this marks the first time Iran targeted Task Force 59, the U.S. Fifth Fleet’s unmanned systems initiative. Though the IRGC vessel quickly released the American Saildrone Explorer once approached by a U.S. patrol ship and helicopter, this represents a pattern of Iranian aggression that will only exacerbate if the U.S. fails to respond with force and instead continues to negotiate a nuclear deal. The United States should quickly pivot toward a Plan B policy for Iran that includes consistent and forceful military action...

Iranian Leaks Reveal Biden Administration Efforts to Circumvent Congressional Review

Recent Iranian reports indicate the nuclear deal negotiated by the Biden administration would lift over 170 sanctions imposed on Iran by executive order prior to President Biden submitting the deal to Congress. This is technically permitted under the relatively permissive Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) but goes beyond Obama administration concessions in 2015 and undermines the original intention of the law to provide congressional review on such an important subject. To retain its oversight prerogatives, Congress should rapidly codify the existing executive orders on Iran or broaden the scope of INARA to keep them under congressional review. Click here to read the NatSec Brief. Author Gabriel Noronha - Gemunder Center ...

U.S. Retaliation Against Iranian Proxies in Syria

On August 24, U.S. airstrikes targeted Iranian-backed groups in Syria that had attacked American troops there on August 15. Later that day, a second round of Iran-backed attacks injured three American service members and U.S. counterstrikes killed four Iranian-backed militants. American troops reportedly conducted a third round of strikes in Syria on August 25, marking the most extensive exchange of fire between U.S. and Iranian-backed groups in Syria since President Biden took office. The U.S. responses have been too limited and, at least initially, avoided targeting militants, even as the Iranian-backed groups sought to kill American troops. In light of Tehran’s use of its proxies’ attacks as leverage against Washington, and given tha...

Analysis: US (unlike EU) Doesn’t Find Iran’s Demands “Reasonable”

Visit our Iran Status Page Negotiation status: PAUSED (exchanging responses) Via the EU, the United States replied today to Iran’s response to an initial EU draft text aimed at overcoming remaining hurdles to a nuclear deal. Though U.S. officials have yet to clarify the contents of the reply, initial reports suggest the United States did not meet Iran’s demands. Axios reported that the United States clarified “it will not agree to conditions between Iran's return to implementing the nuclear agreement and the closing of the International Atomic Energy Agency's investigations into its suspected nuclear activities.” According to Politico, a person familiar with the U.S. response said it focused on Iran’s demand fo...

Analysis: Iran Responds to “Final” Nuclear Deal Proposal

Visit our Iran Status Page Negotiation Status: PAUSED Talks should be over and the deal should be dead—but negotiations could soon be reopened, yet again. The EU set August 15 as the deadline for Iran to approve its final nuclear deal text, saying that there was no room for further negotiation. EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell firmly set the deadline on August 8, stating, “What can be negotiated has been negotiated, and it’s now in a final text.” A statement by the E3—Britain, France, and Germany—confirmed on August 5 that “there will be no re-opening of negotiations.”  Instead, Iran responded with additional, long-standing demands that are now being considered by the United States. ...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 8/9

Visit our Iran Status Page Negotiation status:  PAUSED Though European and American officials claim the text for a revived Iran nuclear deal has been finalized and the negotiations have concluded, no agreement has been reached and Iran maintains that more is needed “to reach the final text of the agreement.” European Union (EU) Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell stated on August 8, “What can be negotiated has been negotiated, and it’s now in a final text.” A senior EU official stated on August 8, “The negotiation is over. It is up to the parties to take the deal.” A statement by the E3—Britain, France, and Germany—confirmed on August 5 that “there will be no re-opening of negotiations.” R...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 8/4

Visit our Iran Status Page The Iran nuclear negotiations are set to resume in Vienna on Thursday, August 4, as officials plan to discuss the draft of an agreement proposed in July by European Union (EU) Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell. Reports suggest the International Atomic Energy Association’s (IAEA) censure of Iran for violations of its requirements to allow monitoring and inspection of its nuclear facilities will be a major issue for Iran in these negotiations, although one that the United States and E.U. consider to be outside the scope of the JCPOA. The first round of the Vienna talks commenced in April 2021, and negotiators were last in Vienna on March 11 when the eighth round of talks concluded. Talks briefly re...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 7/25

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Iran Nuclear Talks Update 7/7

Visit our Iran Status Page Renewed nuclear negotiations in Qatar ended after two days on June 29 without making any progress toward a deal or setting plans for another round of talks. The European Union (E.U.) coordinator for the negotiations Enrique Mora tweeted on June 29 that the Doha talks failed to produce “the progress the E.U. team as coordinator had hoped for.” U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley told NPR on July 5 that the recent indirect talks were “more than a little bit of a wasted occasion.” In contrast to Mora’s assessment, on June 30 Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations (U.N.) Majid Takht Ravanchi referred to the talks in Qatar as “serious and positive.” Iranian Foreign Minister Ho...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 6/27

Visit our Iran Status Page Sixteen weeks after being officially paused, nuclear deal negotiations between the United States and Iran are expected to pick back up in Qatar on Tuesday, June 28. The resumption of talks follows European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell’s visit to Tehran over the weekend, despite no outstanding issues being resolved during his trip. Iran is still demanding the removal of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) designation as well as political guarantees that future U.S. administrations will abide by any deal. Borrell stated that “the US and Iran will talk – not directly – with a facilitation by me and my team as coordinator.” ...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 6/9

Visit our Iran Status Page On June 8 as the Board of Governors (BoG) of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) passed a resolution led by France, Germany, Great Britain and the United States calling on Iran to “urgently cooperate with the IAEA’s probe into undeclared nuclear material in Iran.” For years, Iran has blocked efforts by IAEA inspectors to clarify Tehran’s past work on a nuclear weapon, including by denying access to suspected undeclared nuclear facilities. Iran’s non-compliance with a three-month roadmap it agreed on with the IAEA in March to resolve these concerns led to the BoG’s decision to pass the resolution at its June meeting. The June 8 resolution “expresse[d] profound concern...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 6/2

Visit our Iran Status Page Nuclear deal negotiations between the United States and Iran remain officially paused as Iran appears to shift its key demands, having accepted that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) will remain listed as a terrorist organization. Tehran has reverted to highlighting a previous demand: any agreement must be binding for future U.S. presidential administrations. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian again stressed concerns about the absence of a guarantee that future administrations would obey a deal. Iran has insisted that the White House commit future administrations to follow a nuclear deal, however the U.S. is unable to make this guarantee – something it has repeatedly communi...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 5/27

Visit our Iran Status Page The JINSA Iran Policy Project, co-chaired by Amb. Eric Edelman and Gen. Chuck Wald (Ret.), released a new report, “Time for Plan B on Iran,” detailing why the administration needs to acknowledge that its attempts to return to the JCPOA have failed and how to implement a plan B. Though Iran nuclear deal negotiations have been stalled for weeks over Iran’s demand that the U.S. lift the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) designation, President Biden has reportedly made a final decision not to give in to that demand. Iranian officials stated that the removal of the FTO designation is a prerequisite for the country’s return to the agreement. ...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 5/12

Visit our Iran Status Page Negotiations over a new Iran nuclear deal remain paused as the European Union’s lead negotiator, Enrique Mora, is in Tehran this week to meet with Iranian negotiator Ali Bagheri-Kani and seek a “middle way” to end the stalemate over Iran’s demand that its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) be removed from the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list. U.S. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell described the diplomatic effort as “the last bullet.” Venting his frustration with the status of negotiations, Borrell added, “we cannot continue like this forever, because in the meantime Iran continues developing their nuclear program.” Axios reported that Biden a...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 5/6

Visit our Iran Status Page With negotiations over a new Iran nuclear deal stalemated due to Tehran’s demand that the United States remove Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from the State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list, Reuters reported on May 2 that “Western officials have largely lost hope the Iran nuclear deal can be resurrected.” While the United States previously offered to lift the FTO designation in exchange for various commitments from Iran, including ending its pursuit of retribution for the 2020 killing of Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the more recent line from officials is that some form of “reciprocity” would be needed from Iran, though they have yet to officially rule out d...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 4/28

Talks remain paused as Iran continues to demand that the United States lift the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) designation, though Iranian and European officials appear eager to resume negotiations. Recent comments from Iranian officials suggest a renewed urgency to resume talks in-person in Vienna. Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh called for a return to Vienna, saying on April 25, “it is appropriate that a face-to-face meeting is held as soon as possible,” and adding, “it is not yet decided where and when to have this meeting and at what level it should be held, but it is on the agenda.” Khatibzadeh also said, "prolonging the pause in the negotiations is no...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 4/25

Nuclear negotiations with Iran have been stalled since early March, with the final outstanding issue reportedly being Tehran’s demand that the United States lift its Foreign Terrorism Organization (FTO) designation against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Recent reports suggest that the Biden administration intends to reject Iran’s demand to lift the FTO designation on the IRGC. After a call between President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on April 24, Bennett said, “I am sure that President Biden … will not allow the IRGC to be removed from the list of terrorist organizations,” adding, “Israel has clarified its position on the issue: The IRGC is the largest terrorist organization in the wo...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 4/12

The Washington Post reported on Friday that the United States plans to reject the Iranian demand that the United States lift its designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) in order to renew the 2015 nuclear agreement. Despite this report, which cited a senior Biden administration official, the administration has not officially ruled out lifting the FTO designation. On April 12, a reporter from The Wall Street Journal tweeted that the U.S. has ruled out lifting the FTO unconditionally and accepting the political cost, writing, “Iran needs to accept conditions for lifting of FTO or it’s not a price the administration at the top level is prepared to pay.” On April 6, Secr...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 4/5

Negotiation status: PAUSED State Department spokesman Ned Price was described on April 4 as saying, “the United States still believes there is an opportunity to overcome the remaining differences with Iran in talks over its nuclear program.” Also on April 4, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said, "America is responsible for the halt of these talks ... a deal is very much within reach.” Where are negotiators? Negotiators are currently in their home countries. Officials have not been in Vienna, the site of negotiations, since the eighth round of talks was suspended indefinitely on March 7. It has been roughly 5 months since the Biden administration first said that only weeks remained to se...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 3/29

No officials have returned to Vienna to resume talks on an Iran nuclear deal since leaving for their respective capitals in mid-March. There have been suggestions that negotiators may not need to return to Vienna to finalize an agreement. Though several European officials recently reiterated that a deal is just days away, United States officials’ tone remained more pessimistic. Speaking in Doha, Qatar, about a possible agreement, Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley said on Sunday he “can’t be confident it is imminent,” echoing State Department Spokesperson Ned Price’s comments from last week. The European Union foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, also in Doha on Sunday, sounded more optimistic, repeating West...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 3/24

Statements from U.S. officials about the prospects for a new nuclear deal have become more pessimistic in recent days, while the Biden administration faces growing pressure not to lift terrorism sanctions against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Axios confirmed that the lead U.S. negotiator, Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley, recently offered to lift the IRGC’s Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) designation in exchange for a public commitment to de-escalate malign activities in the region, which Iran declined. Lifting the FTO designation is reportedly the final hurdle to an agreement, but Iran has every incentive to keep dragging out talks while its nuclear programs advances. The FTO designation and its r...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 3/22

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Iran Nuclear Talks Update 3/16

A new nuclear agreement with Iran once again looks imminent in the wake of three key developments in the last 24 hours: Russia said it’s received the guarantees it asked for and is ready to agree to a deal; The United States is reportedly considering lifting the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) designation from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC); and Iran released two British hostages in exchange for more than $500 million. Iranian Foreign Minister (FM) Amir-Abdollahian said, “2 of 4 remaining issues (Iran’s red lines) in Vienna Talks have been resolved, but 2 issues including economic guarantees are still unresolved. If US is ready to settle these two, we’re ready to convene ministerial gatherin...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 3/15

Nuclear negotiations with Iran have been on hold since Friday, when EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell tweeted “a pause in #ViennaTalks is needed.” The pause stems from Russia’s sudden demands last week – for guarantees that its trade with Iran will be exempt from U.S. sanctions related to Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine – but the added delays also buy more time for Iran to continue advancing its nuclear program. The U.S. State Department has said it would not agree to Russia’s demands, with Secretary Blinken calling Russia’s demands “irrelevant” and “not in any way linked together” with the JCPOA nuclear agreement. Despite Iran’s and Russia’s demands, both countries argue the United States re...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 3/11

Negotiations over a new Iran nuclear deal hit a road block this week as outstanding Iranian demands plus last-minute demands from Russia led to a “break” in talks. On Friday morning, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell announced the break. Borrell: “A pause in #ViennaTalks is needed, due to external factors. A final text is essentially ready and on the table … As coordinator, I will, with my team, continue to be in touch with all #JCPOA participants and the U.S. to overcome the current situation and to close the agreement.” Iranian Foreign Minister Saeed Khatibzadeh denied external factors were derailing the process, writing, “Successful conclusion of talks will be the main focus of all … No external...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 3/7

Despite parties to the JCPOA talks in Vienna expressing strong hope that a return to the deal could be secured over the weekend, Russia potentially threw a wrench in the talks by demanding guarantees to protect its cooperation with Iran against Ukraine-related sanctions. In parallel, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi traveled to Tehran where he claimed to reach an agreement for a three-month plan to resolve Iran’s obstruction of inspectors at suspected undeclared nuclear sites. In a lengthy interview with Iranian media over the weekend, Russian Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov emphasized Iran’s accomplishments throughout the negotiations, saying, “realistically speaking, Iran got more than frankly I expected, ...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 3/3

The 8th round of Iran nuclear negotiations remains ongoing as new details emerge regarding the expected end-date for talks as well as Iran’s nuclear developments over the last several months. Officials’ comments continue to suggest that a deal will be reached within the next few days, although that now largely depends on International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi’s trip to Tehran this weekend. European Union coordinator for the negotiations Enrique Mora tweeted, “We are at the final stages of the Vienna Talks on JCPOA. Some relevant issues are still open and success is never guaranteed in such a complex negotiation. Doing our best in the coordinator's team. But we are definitely not there yet.” Iran F...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 3/2

The 8th and supposedly final round of Iranian nuclear talks continued on Wednesday, March 2, in Vienna. Reports suggest that little has changed over the last few days of negotiations, as the three major sticking points in the negotiation from Monday – safeguards, the scope of sanctions, and economic guarantees – remain outstanding. Former U.S. State Department official Gabriel Noronha released what his sources claim are details of the extensive sanctions relief – far beyond what is required under the initial JCPOA agreement – that the Biden administration has offered Tehran for rejoining the nuclear deal. The new deal will allegedly exceed the JCPOA by granting sanctions relief to key political and economic pillars of the regi...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 3/1

The 8th and supposedly final round of Iranian nuclear deal talks continued on Tuesday, March 1, in Vienna, as several key issues remain unsolved. Upon the conclusion of Monday’s meetings between Iranian chief negotiator Ali Bagheri-Kani and the P4+1 yesterday, officials from sides involved in the talks publicly noted the increasing urgency to wrap up negotiations: “It is now or never. If they cannot reach a deal this week, the talks will collapse forever,” said an Iranian diplomat in Tehran. Russian Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov: “completion [of talks] will fall on the beginning of March, very soon.” Ulyanov tweeted photos of the Monday evening meeting, saying, “Tremendous progress has been made since April 2021, wh...

Iran Nuclear Talks Update 2/28

On Monday, February 28, Ali Bagheri-Kani, Iran’s chief negotiator, returned to Vienna and resumed negotiations, after having left for Tehran on Thursday for consultations. U.S. and Western government officials are signaling this may be the last week to negotiate a return to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Although similar statements have been made previously, these are much more specific – albeit so far only attributed to anonymous sources, not made publicly by high-ranking officials. Over the weekend, Western diplomatic sources warned if “within the next few days [the] remaining issues are not resolved, the JCPOA will definitely be dead and it will be impossible to revive it.” On Monday, a senior unn...

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Michael Makovsky, PhD

President and Chief Executive Officer
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Jonathan Ruhe

Director of Foreign Policy
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John Hannah

Randi & Charles Wax Senior Fellow; Former Assistant for National Security Affairs to the Vice President
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Jacob Olidort

Director of Research, Gemunder Center for Defense and Strategy
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Zac Schildcrout

Policy Analyst
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Yoni Tobin

Policy Analyst
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Blaise Misztal

Vice President for Policy
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Ari Cicurel

Assistant Director of Foreign Policy, Gemunder Center for Defense and Strategy

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VADM John M. Bird, USN (ret.)

Former Commander, U.S. Seventh Fleet
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Gen James T Conway, USMC (ret.)

34th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps
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Maj Gen Larry "Stutz" Stutzriem, USAF (ret.)

Former Director, Plans, Policy and Strategy at North American Aerospace Defense Command
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ADM Kirkland H. Donald, USN (ret.)

Former Director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program
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LtGen Kenneth J. Glueck, USMC (ret.)

Former Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Combat Development Command
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ADM Bill Gortney, USN (ret.)

Former Commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)
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Gen Kevin P. Chilton, USAF (ret.)

Former Commander, U.S. Strategic Command
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LtGen Richard Natonski, USMC (ret.)

Former Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command
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Gen Michael Hostage, USAF (ret.)

Former Commander, Air Combat Command
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Svante E. Cornell

Policy Advisor, Gemunder Center for Defense & Strategy
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LTC Geoffrey S. Corn, USA (ret.)

Hybrid Warfare Policy Project Member, Gemunder Center for Defense & Strategy; George R. Killam Jr. Chair of Criminal Law and Director of the Center for Military Law and Policy at Texas Tech University School of Law
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Larry Goldstein

Founder and Director of Energy Policy Research Institute, Inc.; JINSA Gemunder Center Senior Advisor
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John Hannah

Randi & Charles Wax Senior Fellow; Former Assistant for National Security Affairs to the Vice President
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Hon. Stephen Rademaker

Former Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation; JINSA Gemunder Center Senior Advisor
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Lt Gen David Deptula, USAF (ret.)

Former Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, U.S. Air Force Headquarters; JINSA Gemunder Center Senior Advisor
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Gen Charles "Chuck" Wald, USAF (ret.)

Distinguished Fellow; Senior Advisor; Co-chair, Iran Policy Project, Eastern Mediterranean Policy Project; Member, Gaza Policy Project, U.S.-Israel Security Policy Project
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Sander Gerber

Distinguished Fellow, Gemunder Center for Defense & Strategy
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IDF MG (ret.) Yaakov Amidror

Distinguished Fellow, Gemunder Center for Defense & Strategy
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Major General Amikam Norkin

Distinguished Fellow, JINSA's Gemunder Center for Defense & Strategy
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VADM Robert Harward, USN (ret.)

Former Deputy Commander of U.S. Central Command
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Gabriel Noronha

Fellow, JINSA's Gemunder Center for Defense & Strategy
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Elliott Abrams

Senior Fellow for Middle East Studies at Council on Foreign Relations
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IDF MG Yoel Strick

Gemunder Center Visiting Military Fellow
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LTG Raymond Palumbo, USA (ret.)

Former Deputy Commander of U.S. Army Special Operations
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LTG Stephen Lanza, USA (ret.)

Former Commanding General of I Corps and Joint Base Lewis McChord
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Lt Gen Jon Davis, USMC (ret.)

Former Deputy Commandant for Aviation
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LTG Karen Gibson, USA (ret.)

Former Deputy Director for National Intelligence and National Security Partnerships
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LTG Robert Ashley, USA (ret.)

Former Director, Defense Intelligence Agency
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Earl G. Matthews

Non-Resident Fellow, JINSA's Gemunder Center for Defense & Strategy
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ADM Jonathan W. Greenert, USN (ret.)

Former Chief, Naval Operations (CNO, 2011-2015)
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Col Stephen T. Ganyard, USMC (ret.)

Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
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LTC (Prof) Sean M. Watts, USA (ret.)

Former Professor of International Law at the Judge Advocate General’s School
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Lt Gen Eric E. Fiel, USAF (ret.)

Former Commander, Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla.
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CDR Mark E. Newcomb, USN (ret.)

Former Principal Legal Advisor to Commander, Battle Force 7th Fleet.
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Lt Col Rachel E. VanLandingham, USAF (ret.)

Former Judge Advocate in the U.S. Air Force; Professor of Law at Southwestern Law School (Los Angeles, CA)
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ADM Bruce Clingan, USN (ret.)

Former Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Africa
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Reuben Jeffery

Former Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs
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VADM Mark Fox, USN (ret.)

Former Deputy Commander, U.S. Central Command
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COL. Marc Warren, USA (ret.)

Former senior legal officer in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corp for Multi-National Forces Iraq
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COL Ian G. Corey, USA (ret.)

Former General Counsel for U.S. Army Cyber Command
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LTG Michael S. Tucker, USA (ret.)

Former Commanding General of the First United States Army from 2013 until 2016
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LTG Thomas W. Spoehr, USA (ret.)

Former Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Forces – Iraq
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Abraham Katsman

Fellow, Gemunder Center for Defense & Strategy
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Gen Philip M. Breedlove, USAF (ret.)

Former Supreme Allied Commander Europe; Former Commander U.S. European Command
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GEN. David Rodriguez, USA (ret.)

Former Commander, United States Africa Command
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LtGen John "Jocko" Toolan, Jr., USMC (ret.)

Former Commander, Marine Forces Pacific
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Alan Makovsky

Former Senior Professional Staff Member at U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs
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LTG John Gardner, USA (ret.)

Former Deputy Commander of U.S. European Command
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Dr. Richard Wagner Jr.

Former Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Atomic Energy
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Dr. James "Jim" Tegnelia

Former Director, Defense Threat Reduction Agency
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Dr. David Stoudt

Distinguished Engineer, Naval Surface Warfare Center
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Dr. William Schneider, Jr.

Former Under Secretary of State for International Security Affairs
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Thomas Popik

President, Foundation for Resilient Societies
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Dr. Robert Pfaltzgraff, Jr.

Professor of International Security Studies, Fletcher School at Tufts University
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Dr. Keith Payne

Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Forces Policy
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VADM G. Peter Nanos, USN (ret.)

Former Director, Los Alamos National Laboratory
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Richard Murray

Head of Liability Regimes Project, Geneva Association
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Amb. Ronald Lehman, II

Former Director, US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
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John Kappenman

President and CEO, Storm Analysis Consultants
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Dr. John Foster Jr.

Former Director, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Member, Congressional EMP Commission
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Dr. George Baker

Former Electromagnetics Group Leader, Defense Nuclear Agency
9999 9999 9999 9999 9999 9999 9999 Joseph

Amb. Robert Joseph

Co-Chair, EMP Task Force; Former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security
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Dr. Bryan Gabbard

Co-Chair, EMP Task Force; Executive Vice President, Defense Group Inc.
9999 9999 9999 9999 9999 9999 9999 Jones, USA (ret.)

MG. Mike Jones, USA (ret.)

Former Chief of Staff, U.S. Central Command
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Maj Gen Rick Devereaux, USAF (ret.)

Former Director of Operational Planning, Policy, and Strategy
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LTG William B. Caldwell, IV, USA (ret.)

Former Commander, U.S. Army North
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Roger Zakheim

Former General Counsel and Deputy Staff Director of U.S. House Armed Services Committee
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Dr. Ray Takeyh

Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle East Studies at Council on Foreign Relations
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Lt Gen Henry Obering, USAF (ret.)

Former Director of the Missile Defense Agency
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Amb. Eric Edelman

Distinguished Scholar; Co-Chair Iran Policy Project and Eastern Mediterranean Policy Project; Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
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Lt Gen Thomas "Tom" Trask, USAF (ret.)

Former Vice Commander, United States Special Operations Command
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ADM James Stavridis, USN (ret.)

Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander and former Commander of U.S. European Command; Chairman, Gemunder Center U.S.-Israel Security Task Force

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LTC Geoffrey S. Corn, USA (ret.)

Hybrid Warfare Policy Project Member, Gemunder Center for Defense & Strategy; George R. Killam Jr. Chair of Criminal Law and Director of the Center for Military Law and Policy at Texas Tech University School of Law
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Gen Charles "Chuck" Wald, USAF (ret.)

Distinguished Fellow; Senior Advisor; Co-chair, Iran Policy Project, Eastern Mediterranean Policy Project; Member, Gaza Policy Project, U.S.-Israel Security Policy Project
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Sander Gerber

Distinguished Fellow, Gemunder Center for Defense & Strategy
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IDF MG (ret.) Yaakov Amidror

Distinguished Fellow, Gemunder Center for Defense & Strategy
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Major General Amikam Norkin

Distinguished Fellow, JINSA's Gemunder Center for Defense & Strategy
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COL. Marc Warren, USA (ret.)

Former senior legal officer in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corp for Multi-National Forces Iraq
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Amb. Eric Edelman

Distinguished Scholar; Co-Chair Iran Policy Project and Eastern Mediterranean Policy Project; Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy

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Svante E. Cornell

Policy Advisor, Gemunder Center for Defense & Strategy
9999 9999 9999 9999 9999 9999 9999 Goldstein

Larry Goldstein

Founder and Director of Energy Policy Research Institute, Inc.; JINSA Gemunder Center Senior Advisor
9999 9999 9999 9999 9999 9999 9999 Rademaker

Hon. Stephen Rademaker

Former Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation; JINSA Gemunder Center Senior Advisor
9999 9999 9999 9999 9999 9999 9999 Deptula, USAF (ret.)

Lt Gen David Deptula, USAF (ret.)

Former Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, U.S. Air Force Headquarters; JINSA Gemunder Center Senior Advisor

Benjamin Gettler Annual International Policy Trip

The Benjamin Gettler International Policy Trip annually brings high-level delegations of retired senior military officers and civilian national security experts to a country that is important to U.S. national security and/or the U.S.-Israel relationship. After completing their trip, each group shares their findings and recommendations with policymakers and opinion leaders in Washington, D.C. and across the United States. This important program is made possible by the generous support from the Gettler Family Foundation, in memory of former JINSA Chairman Benjamin Gettler.

  • 2019
  • 2018
  • 2021
  • 2022
  • 2023
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Azerbaijan

The Benjamin Gettler Annual Policy Trip visited Azerbaijan from October 22-26, 2023. Members of the delegation included: LtGen Carl "Sam" Mundy, USMC (ret.) - Commander, Marine Forces Central Command Lt Gen Chris Nowland, USAF (ret.) - Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force Meetings included: Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Foreign Policy Advisor to the President of Azerbaijan on Defense Cooperation, Iran, and the Azerbaijani Jewish Community Deputy Minister of Economy Deputy Minister of Energy Ambassador of Israel to Azerbaijan U.S. Chargé d’Affaires to Azerbaijan U.S. Defense Attaché to Azerbaijan The State Committee on Religious Associations Visit with the Mountain...

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Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

The Benjamin Gettler Annual Policy Trip visited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from November 11-18, 2022. The delegation was led by JINSA’s President & CEO, Dr. Michael Makovsky and JINSA’s Randi and Charles Wax Senior Fellow, John Hannah. Members of the delegation included: Ambassador John Abizaid- U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Commander of CENTCOM ADM Michael Rogers, USN (ret.)- Commander, U.S. Cyber Command and Director, National Security Agency/Chief, Central Security Service Gen William Shelton, USAF (ret.)- Commander, Air Force Space Command Gen Charles Wald, USAF (ret.)- Deputy Commander, European Command (EUCOM) LTG Robert Ashley, USA (ret.)- 21st Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency...

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Greece

The Benjamin Gettler Annual International Policy Trip visited Greece from November 13-16, 2021. The delegation was led by JINSA President & CEO Dr. Michael Makovsky and consisted of: Gen (ret.) Philip Breedlove, USAF – Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Commander US European Command Gen (ret.) Charles Wald, USAF, former Deputy Commander of United States European Command (EUCOM) Gen (ret.) Thomas Waldhauser, USMC — Commander, U.S. Africa Command Alan Makovsky Meetings included: Minister of Hellenic National Defense Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos Minister of Environment and Energy Mr. Costas Skrekas Chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff, General Konstantinos Floros Chief of the Hellenic Air Fo...

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Greece

The Benjamin Gettler Annual International Policy Trip visited Greece from March 31-April 4. The delegation was led by JINSA President & CEO Dr. Michael Makovsky and consisted of: Gen Charles Wald, USAF (ret.) Gen Kevin Chilton, USAF (ret.) VADM Mark Fox, USN (ret.) Lt Gen Thomas Trask, USAF (ret.) IDF MG (ret.) Yaakov Ayish Dr. Svante Cornell Alan Makovsky Meetings included: Chief of the Hellenic National Defense Staff, Christos Christodoulou Defense Minister, Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis Shadow Defense Minister, Mr. Vassilis Kikilias Minister of Environment and Energy, Giorgos Stathakis Rear Admiral Dimitrios Kavoulakos Opposition Member, Giorgos Koumoutsakos Leading Greek Think Tank, E...

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Egypt

April 29 - May 4, 2018 Participants included: ADM Bruce Clingan, USN (ret.) Gen Charles Wald, USAF (ret.) LTG Howard Bromberg, USA (ret.) LtGen Kenneth Glueck, USMC (ret.) Meetings included: President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi Head of the General Intelligence Service (GIS) Foreign Minister Sameh Hassan Shoukry Minister of Defense Sedki Sobhy Commentary: The U.S. is Right to Restore Aid to Egypt Reuters - July 30, 2018 by ADM Bruce Clingan, USN (ret.) and Read More

Latest Reports

The Day After: A Plan for Gaza
February 28, 2024
From Partner to Ally: The Case for a U.S.-Israel Defense Treaty
September 19, 2023
No Daylight: U.S. Strategy if Israel Attacks Iran
July 24, 2023
Build It and They Will Come: A U.S. Strategy for Integrating Middle East Air and Missile Defenses
May 3, 2023
JINSA’s Blueprint for Congressional Action on Iran
September 8, 2022
Port in a Storm: Enhancing U.S.-Greece Cooperation at Alexandroupolis
August 23, 2022
Recommit, Don’t Retrench: Policy Priorities for Biden’s Middle East Trip
July 11, 2022
Time for Plan B on Iran
May 25, 2022
A Stronger and Wider Peace: A U.S. Strategy for Advancing the Abraham Accords
January 19, 2022
Watch JINSA Gaza Conflict 2021 Assessment Report Release
December 8, 2021
At the Center of the Crossroads: A New U.S. Strategy for the East Med
November 11, 2021
Gaza Conflict 2021 Assessment: Observations and Lessons
October 28, 2021
Erasing the Leverage Deficit: How to Keep Tehran from the Bomb
October 13, 2021
No Deal Remains Better Than a Bad Deal: Risks of a JCPOA Return
May 25, 2021
Precious No More? A U.S. Strategy for a Lonely Turkey
March 30, 2021
No Going Back Now: The Case Against Returning to the JCPOA
March 3, 2021
Curtailing Chinese Investment in Israel: A Comprehensive and Cooperative U.S.-Israeli Strategy
February 1, 2021
Bolstering U.S.-Israel Defense of Shared Interests: An Agenda for the Biden Administration
January 25, 2021
Dangerous Conditions: The Case Against Threatening Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge
December 16, 2020
Abraham’s Command: Relocating Israel to CENTCOM’s Area of Responsibility
November 25, 2020
Leaving the JCPOA Behind: Principles for Preventing a Nuclear Iran
September 16, 2020
Reshaped After the Pandemic: Turkish Aggression in the Eastern Mediterranean
July 29, 2020
Best Line of Defense: The Case for Israeli Sovereignty in the Jordan Valley
June 26, 2020
Anchoring the U.S.-Israel Alliance: Rebuilding America’s Arms Stockpile in Israel
June 10, 2020
Turkey’s Escalation in Libya: Implications and U.S. Policy Options
May 27, 2020
U.S. & Greece: Cementing A Closer Strategic Partnership
January 30, 2020
A Narrow U.S.-Israel Defense Pact: Addressing Criticism
November 20, 2019
Arming Israel to Defeat Iranian Aggression: Frontloading Weapons Delivery
November 18, 2019
Sea Changes: U.S. Challenges and Opportunities in the Eastern Mediterranean
August 1, 2019
For a Narrow U.S.-Israel Defense Pact
July 30, 2019
If Time Runs Out Again: Implications of Iran’s Nuclear Escalation
July 8, 2019
Defending the Fence: Legal and Operational Challenges in Hamas-Israel Clashes, 2018-19
March 15, 2019
Israel’s Next Northern War: Operational and Legal Challenges
October 29, 2018
Comprehensive U.S. Strategy Toward Iran After the JCPOA
September 16, 2018
ATLAS SUPPORTED: Strengthening U.S.-Israel Strategic Cooperation
May 8, 2018
Countering Iranian Expansion in Syria
November 20, 2017
Strategy to Restore U.S. Leverage Against Iran
July 12, 2017
The Iran Nuclear Deal After One Year: Assessment and Options for the Next President
July 12, 2016
Impact of the Interim Deal with Iran
May 12, 2014

Latest Updates

  • U.S.-Israel
  • Iran
  • Hybrid Warfare
  • Miscellaneous
  • Syria
  • Turkey
  • Israeli-Palestinian
  • Eastern Mediterranean
  • Israel China

A Plan for Postwar Gaza

Commentary - February 29, 2024
by Seth Mandel and

Despite Hostile Public, Egypt Won’t Destroy Israel Relations

Jewish News Syndicate - February 18, 2024
by Israel Kasnett and

One Year into the War in Ukraine: Israel’s Preparedness for the Changing Aerial Threat

The Institute for National Security Studies - February 27, 2023
by Major General Amikam Norkin and Liran Antebi and

End America’s Complicity in Iraq’s Sanctions Busting

Washington Examiner - February 8, 2023
by John Hannah and Joel Rayburn and

Cause for Hope Amid War and Authoritarianism

The Dispatch - February 2, 2023
by Shay Khatiri and Michael Mazza and