Why is the UK Still Party to the Iran Nuclear Deal? Practical Applications for the Future of the JCPOA

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Why is the UK Still Party to the Iran Nuclear Deal? Practical Applications for the Future of the JCPOA

27th September 2023 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

As the eight-year anniversary of the Iran Nuclear Deal draws near on 18 October 2023, concern over the provisions which are to “sunset” or expire on that date have caused parties to the Deal – formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – to evaluate its many failures and remaining potential for success at curbing Iran’s nuclear programme. In anticipation of this deadline, The Henry Jackson Society invites you to the launch of our latest Policy Brief, Why is the UK Still Party to the Iran Nuclear Deal? Practical Applications for the Future of the JCPOA.

Coinciding with our launch are the 67th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. This year, the Islamic Republic of Iran serves as a Vice-President of the UNGA 78, and Iran’s envoy, Heidar-Ali Balouji, serves as the Rapporteur of the Disarmament and International Security Committee, charged with presenting resolutions on disarmament, global challenges and threats to peace that affect the international community.

These events underscore the necessity of shining a strong light on Iran’s nuclear activities with the goal of demanding accountability for Iran, determining the best course of action for the State parties to Deal, and particularly examining the UK’s prospects for keeping Iran on course and in compliance with the JCPOA as the timeline of the Deal moves forward.



Ms Elizabeth Samson holds a Juris Doctor from Fordham Law School (NY-USA), an LL.M. in International & European Law from the University of Amsterdam Faculty of Law, a B.A. in Political Science from Queens College, and a Certificate in Management from the Wharton School.

Prior to joining HJS, Ms. Samson served as a policy and political consultant, as well as a Consulting Director at the White House Writers Group and a Visiting Fellow at the Washington DC based Hudson Institute. Ms. Samson has authored several peer-reviewed legal publications on topics of comparative international law and humanitarian law. Her writings have appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Washington Times, and the New York Post.



Dr Bahram Ghiassee is an Associate Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, Centre for the New Middle East. He is a London-based Nuclear Consultant, and a visiting academic in the Physics Department, University of Surrey, where he teaches on post-graduate programmes in Nuclear Science & Applications and Radiation & Environmental Protection. Bahram’s teaching, research and publications encompass the technical and legal aspects of Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, Nuclear and Radiological Security, Nuclear Terrorism, International Environmental Law, and Environmental Radioactivity.

Developments in the nuclear sphere in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) are of particular interest to Bahram, and he comments regularly on the BBC Persian, Iran International TV (London), and other media networks, on the technical and legal issues related to Iran’s nuclear programme, the Iran Nuclear Accord (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA), the UN Security Council Resolutions and Sanctions, and the IAEA Nuclear Safeguards. He is a member of the International Nuclear Law Association (Brussels), the World Institute for Nuclear Security (WINS, Vienna), and the UK Environmental Law Association (UKELA). He is also a chartered member of the UK Nuclear Institute, and recipient of the Institute’s Pinkerton Prize (2011). Bahram holds qualifications in Chemical Engineering (BS, University of Washington, Seattle), MBA (The City University Business School, now Cass Business School), Public International Law (LLB & LLM, University of London), and Nuclear Science & Technology (PhD, Imperial College London).



Dr Ian J. Stewart is executive director of the CNS Washington, DC, office. Ian is a specialist on issues related to export controls, sanctions, and non-proliferation. Ian came to CNS from King’s College London (KCL), where he served as director of Project Alpha as well as the scientific advisor for the EU Consortium implementing the European Union’s Partner-2-Partner program on dual-goods.

Previously, he served with the British Ministry of Defence, where he was a nuclear engineer working on nuclear deterrent and non-proliferation issues. He holds Masters degrees in nuclear science and technology and electrical and electronic engineering and received his PhD in War Studies from KCL.

Ian’s principal area of research relates to non-proliferation and illicit trade. His research focuses on implementation and enforcement of export controls as well as evasion of these measures. Secondary research interests relate to open-source intelligence and nuclear history.



Michael Rubin is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he specializes in Iran, Turkey, and the broader Middle East.

A former Pentagon official, Dr. Rubin has lived in post-revolution Iran, Yemen, and both pre- and postwar Iraq. He also spent time with the Taliban before 9/11. For more than a decade, he taught classes at sea about the Horn of Africa and Middle East conflicts, culture, and terrorism, to deployed US Navy and Marine units.

Dr. Rubin is the author, coauthor, and co-editor of several books exploring diplomacy, Iranian history, Arab culture, Kurdish studies, and Shi’ite politics, including “Seven Pillars: What Really Causes Instability in the Middle East?” (AEI Press, 2019); “Kurdistan Rising” (AEI Press, 2016); “Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes” (Encounter Books, 2014); and “Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos” (Palgrave, 2005).

Dr. Rubin has a PhD and an MA in history from Yale University, where he also obtained a BS in biology.



Marc Sidwell is Director of Research at The Henry Jackson Society. He has worked as a senior editor for the Telegraph and City A.M. and as publisher for the New Statesman. Marc has also written regularly for publications including Telegraph, The Critic, National Review and City A.M. He is a Senior Fellow at the New Culture Forum, and a graduate of Oxford and Warwick.





Corresponding with the launch of HJS Associate Research Fellow Elizabeth Samson’s new report Why is the UK Still Party to the Iran Nuclear Deal? Practical Applications for the Future of the JCPOA, the Henry Jackson Society hosted a Policy Brief discussion about the future and function of the JCPOA, the status of Iran’s nuclear programme, and the effect of the American decision to withdraw from the deal in 2018.

Elizabeth Samson argued that the snapback mechanism of the JCPOA was one our most powerful tools in slowing or halting the advance of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear weapons development and that their repeated violations of the basic terms of the agreement demand that we treat them forcefully and reinstate sanctions. The panel argued how best to deal with Iran’s failure to honour their JCPOA commitments, the level of force with which Iran can be dealt, and the efficacy of the United Nations and multilateral agreements in facilitating meaningful international nuclear policy. In the face of a recalcitrant Iran and with the United States out of the deal, what role can and should the UK play? And if we are not willing to initiate the JCPOA’s snapback provisions, what use is the deal anyway? What effect does not honouring the deal have on our relations with other aggressive authoritarian states like Russia, China, and North Korea? In this discussion, some of the finest minds on Iranian nuclear policy on both sides of the Atlantic considered these questions.




27th September 2023
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm




Elizabeth Samson, Dr Bahram Ghiassee, Dr Michael Rubin, Dr Ian J. Stewart


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