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EXPERT AVAILABLE: Political Scientist Offers Insight on Iranian Nuclear Agreement

July 15th, 2015

Story Contact: Jeff Sossamon, 573-882-3346,

The views and opinions expressed in this “for expert comment” release are based on research and/or opinions of the researcher(s) and/or faculty member(s) and do not reflect the University’s official stance.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – After more than 20 months of negotiations, missed deadlines and compromise, an Iranian nuclear agreement has been announced. The Obama administration, while staking a claim in history and its perceived legacy, has advocated for a smaller Iranian nuclear program and transparency. Iranians, fatigued by sanctions and global seclusion, are satisfied with portions of the deal that—if approved—likely will last into the next decade. A. Cooper Drury, a University of Missouri political science researcher, cautions that contained within the nuances of the agreement are clues to the need for further negotiations and talks and that a continued dialogue with Iran is necessary and recommended.

“I’ve reviewed the announcement and deal and feel we can be slightly optimistic, but only if we’re extremely guarded about it,” said Drury, professor of political science and chair of the Department of Political Science at MU. “The deal is good for the first few years, but after that, things can go very badly by allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapon capability.”

Drury sees a need for continued vigilance and believes that the deal should not be viewed as the end of negotiations. Instead, it should be the starting point for a potential new relationship that must be fostered by continued talks. He said that negotiators have not reached a final agreement, but rather have just started down a possible road to a non-nuclear Iran.

“According to the way I read the agreement, the deal basically gives us a few years to convince the Iranians not to develop nuclear weapons,” Drury said. “If the U.S. and other countries continue to engage Iran with this goal, we could have a great deal of success. If we do not continue our negotiations, and the Iranians decide to continue developing nuclear weapons, then this deal will have provided them with a stronger economy, free access to weapons (including ballistic missiles), and time to sharpen their technology.”

The agreement has the potential to be the beginning of a less-conflictual relationship, but it is not the beginning of a friendly relationship, Drury said.

Drury joined the Department of Political Science at the University of Missouri in 2002 and now serves as the chair of the department. His research and teaching focus broadly on foreign policy, and he has published extensively on the use and consequences of economic sanctions. He is the editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy Analysis.