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Iran Expert “Tiger Team”

In 2018, the European Leadership Network (ELN) launched an official project on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Our plan is to build on existing analytical and advocacy work to protect the JCPOA. This includes working with partners across Europe and in Washington and engaging the ELN’s senior network of political, military and diplomatic figures. Our focus is to ensure that Europe plays the fullest and most effective role possible by helping E3 governments and Brussels to better understand and address key challenges in sustaining what remains of the nuclear agreement and productively engage on peripheral issues.

The good news is that the JCPOA, although under immense stress after the US withdrawal, still survives and has entered its fourth year of implementation. The remaining JCPOA participants are working to honour their original commitments, and the ELN is proud to have played a role in supporting European – and by extension global – efforts. The bad news is that in spite of our efforts, it is likely that in 2019 pressure on Iran will grow, increasing the chances of the JCPOA’s collapse.

Our work on the JCPOA

Europe and the JCPOA

The JCPOA is extremely important to Europe’s security. A more destabilised and nuclear Middle East would increase the threats to Europe. Threats that are not faced by the United States.  European governments overwhelmingly support the nuclear deal and defend the International Atomic Energy Agency’s continued findings of Iranian compliance. The European Union and individual European capitals have already spoken up in support of the Agreement, but they need to exert consistent collective diplomacy towards the US to make it clear how much the Agreement matters to their security. Europe is both an underdeveloped resource and a key actor in the defence of the JCPOA. More assertive European diplomacy and advocacy would strengthen those working to protect the JCPOA in Washington and isolate it from broader US-Iran tensions.


Why the ELN?

The complexity of current Europe-US relations makes European governments reluctant to take public positions. So the burden of delivering European voice falls on European organisations such as the ELN. Our pan-European network extends its reach into most EU governments and public opinions. The ELN can go places, reach people, put forward ideas and say things that governments can’t.


The ELN mobilised its members to produce and publish a group statement on 18 September 2017 signed by 80 ELN members and timed to impact the UN General Assembly. In January 2018, the ELN took a senior delegation to Washington to meet with US congressional members and staff to discuss the nuclear deal. In April 2018 the ELN published a policy brief by Sir Simon Gass, former UK Ambassador to Iran and who led the British team at the E3+3/Iran nuclear negotiations on finding a “diplomatic sweet spot” in negotiations with the US, and a further policy brief by Policy Fellow Axel Hellman arguing that European policymakers should lay the technical and political groundwork to challenge the snapback of US sanctions.


The ELN supported French MP Delphine O in securing the names of British MPs alongside French and German parliamentarians on the 26 April open letter to the US Congress. On 8 May 2018 the ELN published a further group statement with 106 signatures more than any previous ELN declaration.


ELN JCPOA Project Activities

This initiative will bring together the best non-governmental expertise, making it available to European negotiators and promote practical ways forward among the JCPOA signatories. To this end, we are drawing together a small and select group of top experts on arms control, non-proliferation, finance and energy to form a ‘virtual hub’ to pool their knowledge, test out policy recommendations, and provide targeted expertise to E3 governments, the EU, and the US Congress.


This initiative would support the US-EU+E3 negotiations with analysis, advocacy and diplomatic engagement by developing a clear European agenda, providing sustained support and engagement in key capitals with relevant research and shared European messaging.


  1. Aniseh Bassiri Tabrizi, Research Fellow, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI); Visiting Fellow, War Studies Department, King’s College London (KCL), London
  2. Azadeh Zamirirad, Senior Associate, German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), Berlin
  3. Bruno Tertrais, Deputy Director, Fondation pour la recherche stratégique (FRS), Paris
  4. Cornelius Adebahr, Associate Fellow, Alfred von Oppenheim Center for European Policy Studies (DGAP), Berlin
  5. Dina Esfandiary, Centre for Science and Security Studies (CSSS) Fellow, War Studies Department, King’s College London (KCL), London
  6. Ellie Geranmayeh, Senior Policy Fellow and Deputy Head of the MENA Programme, European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), London
  7. Emil Dall, Research Fellow, Proliferation and Nuclear Policy, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), London
  8. Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, Founder, Bourse and Bazaar, London
  9. Fabian Hinz, Mercator Fellow, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), Berlin
  10. Gregoire Mallard, Associate Professor in Anthropology and Sociology and Advisory Faculty at the Global Governance Centre, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva
  11. Kamiar Mohaddes, Senior Lecturer, Department of Economics; Fellow, Economics at Girton College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge
  12. Paulina Izewicz, Senior Research Associate, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), London
  13. Riccardo Alcaro, Research Coordinator and Head of the Global Actors Programme of the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), Rome
  14. Richard Dalton, President, British Iranian Chamber of Commerce; Former UK Ambassador to Iran
  15. Rouzbeh Parsi, Senior Lecturer, Department of History, Lund University, Lund
  16. Roxane Farmanfarmaian, Affiliated Lecturer in International Relations of the Middle East and North Africa, University of Cambridge, London/Cambridge
  17. Tarja Cronberg, Distinguished Associate Fellow, European Security Programme, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Stockholm
  18. Thierry Coville, Research Fellow, Institut de Relations Internationales et Stratégiques (IRIS), Paris
  19. Tom Keatinge, Director, Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), London