IS: Off the Page

05-Domestic Politics, Nuclear Choices, and the Iran Deal

Episode Summary

In this episode, we examine when and how domestic politics can influence a state’s nuclear choices and, in particular, when a country’s leaders choose to expand nuclear decision-making to those outside of their inner circle. Our policy discussion focuses on the impact of Iranian and American domestic politics on the past, present, and future of the Iran nuclear deal. Who are the main factions and decision makers driving the two countries’ respective policies? What is the current state of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)? Given looming elections in both countries, what does the future hold for the Iran deal? Listen to find out!

Episode Notes


Elizabeth Saunders is an Associate Professor at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and a faculty member in the Security Studies Program. She is also a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Project on International Order and Strategy at the Brookings Institution.

Suzanne Maloney  is the Interim Vice President and Director of the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution, where she focuses on the politics of Iran and the Persian Gulf.

International Security Article:

This episode is based on Elizabeth N. Saunders, “The Domestic Politics of Nuclear Choices — A Review Essay,” International Security, Vol. 44, No. 2 (Fall 2019), pp. 146–184.

Additional Related Readings:

Originally released on February 13, 2020