Can an Unwritten U.S.-Iran Agreement Break the Nuclear Deadlock?

After more than 10 months of diplomatic pause, the United States and Iran appear to be on the verge of an agreement that encompasses both the nuclear issue and a prisoner swap. It is not a formal agreement, but rather an unwritten, informal understanding that focuses only on halting the escalatory cycle between the U.S. and Iran. What has prompted Washington and Tehran to return to diplomacy? If a written agreement embodied in a U.N. Security Council Resolution could not hold, what can an unwritten understanding achieve? Can it pave the way for a broader resolution of the nuclear crisis? To answer these and other questions, join us for a discussion featuring Suzanne DiMaggio and Aaron David Miller, both senior fellows at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Vali Nasr, professor of international affairs at Johns Hopkins University. Quincy Institute Executive Vice President Trita Parsi will moderate.


Aaron David Miller

Aaron David Miller is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, focusing on U.S. foreign policy. He has written five books, including his most recent, The End of Greatness: Why America Can’t Have (and Doesn’t Want) Another Great President (2014) and The Much Too Promised Land: America’s Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli Peace (2008). He received his PhD in Middle East and U.S. diplomatic history from the University of Michigan in 1977.

Suzanne DiMaggio

Suzanne DiMaggio is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where she focuses on U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East and Asia. She is one of the foremost experts and practitioners of diplomatic dialogues with countries that have limited or no official relations with the United States, especially Iran and North Korea. Suzanne directs the U.S.-Iran Initiative, which is carried out through a combination of policy dialogue, research, and a series of private roundtables and public events, with the aim of exploring possible grounds for constructive engagement and generating diplomatic solutions to the issues that divide the two countries.

Vali Nasr

Vali Nasr is the Majid Khadduri Professor of International Affairs and Middle East Studies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center. He served as the eighth Dean of Johns Hopkins SAIS between 2012 and 2019 and served as Senior Advisor to U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke between 2009 and 2011.

Trita Parsi (Moderator)

Trita Parsi, PhD, is an award-winning author and the 2010 recipient of the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. He is an expert on US-Iranian relations, Iranian foreign politics, and the geopolitics of the Middle East. He is the co-founder and former President of the National Iranian American Council. He received his PhD in foreign policy at Johns Hopkins’ School for Advanced International Studies, a Master's Degree in International Relations from Uppsala University, and a Master's Degree in Economics from the Stockholm School of Economics.