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Vail Symposium hosts webinar on US-Iran relations

On Wednesday, the Vail Symposium is hosting a Zoom webinar with experts exploring the question, “Will the U.S. and Iran ever get along?”

Greg Dobbs leads a discussion with Behnam Ben Taleblu and Michael Singh to discuss Iran and its relationship with the U.S.
Unsplash/Courtesy photo

After four years of the “maximum pressure” campaign from the previous administration, does new leadership in Washington and Tehran signal an opportunity for a thawing of relations between the two countries? Or, does the election of conservative Ebrahim Raisi signal Iran’s desire for a more assertive foreign policy that will challenge the U.S.?

On a Zoom webinar Wednesday, Greg Dobbs leads a discussion with Behnam Ben Taleblu and Michael Singh to discuss Iran and its relationship with the U.S.

“Despite several years of punishing sanctions, Iran still manages to support troublesome militia groups throughout the Middle East,” said Vail Symposium Director of Programming Claire Noble. “Equally disturbing, the last two years have seen Iran ramp up Uranium enrichment. If sanctions will not modify their behavior will anything? We have assembled a panel of experts to answer that and other questions surrounding U.S.-Iran relations.”



Chief among the concerns of the Biden administration’s foreign policy team is the future of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Negotiated by the Obama administration and famously exited by Trump, President Biden’s commitment to reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action remains unclear. In the meantime, how far is Iran’s nuclear program from a break-out point? And how should the U.S. respond if it does?

While a nuclear Iran is a potential threat, Iran’s current support for numerous militias and terror groups in the region including Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Yemen’s Houthis, pro-Iran Syrian forces, and the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces remains a potent threat and a stumbling block to improved relations between the two nations.



Due to perceived asymmetry in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran is looking to retool its economy to be sanction resistant and Asia focused. Can Iran succeed in blunting the devastation wrought by sanctions? If so, what tools remain in the U.S. toolkit for punishing Iran for noncompliance with the plan of action?

These questions and more will be addressed by a distinguished panel of experts including Behnam Ben Taleblu from the Foundation for Defense of Democracy, Michael Singh managing director at The Washington Institute, and veteran journalist Greg Dobbs moderating.

About the speakers

Behnam Ben Taleblu is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where he focuses on Iranian security and political issues. Behnam previously served as a research fellow and senior Iran analyst at Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Prior to his time at the foundation, Behnam worked on nonproliferation issues at an arms control think-tank in Washington. Leveraging his subject-matter expertise and native Farsi skills, Behnam has closely tracked a wide range of Iran-related topics including: nuclear nonproliferation, ballistic missiles, sanctions, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the foreign and security policy of the Islamic Republic, and internal Iranian politics.

Michael Singh is the Lane-Swig senior fellow and managing director at The Washington Institute and a former senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council.

During his tenure at the White House from 2005 to 2008, Singh was responsible for devising and coordinating U.S. national security policy toward the region stretching from Morocco to Iran, with a particular emphasis on Iran’s nuclear and regional activities, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Syria, and security cooperation in the broader Middle East. Previously, Singh served as special assistant to secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell and at the U.S. embassy in Israel.

Veteran correspondent Greg Dobbs will moderate this program. From his boots-on-the-ground news coverage in more than 80 countries around the world, particularly throughout the Middle East and Russia (as well as coverage of the U.S. space program), Greg Dobbs is a professional speaker on global affairs, the author of two books (with two more in the works) and a journalist for almost 50 years, spending most of his time as a correspondent — including roughly two decades as a foreign and war correspondent — for two American television networks, primarily ABC News.

If you go …

What: Bad Blood: Will the U.S. and Iran Ever Get Along?

When: 6-7 p.m. Dec. 22

Where: Zoom webinar

More information: Visit VailSymposium.org for more information and to register.


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