Archive: December 2013

SAC Update Fall 2013

Maya Dorje ’15 & Irfan Mahmud ’16

The fall semester saw the largest Harvard Foundation Student Advisory Committee in its history with over 80 cultural and racial organizations represented. Additionally, by the end of the semester, six additional organizations were voted into the SAC, including the Harvard Undergraduate Brazilian Association, Harvard College Iranian Association, Harvard College Canadian Club, Harvard College Students for Bangladesh, Harvard Italian-American Students Association, and Harvard Dis-Orient Players.

An exchange on the economic costs of Iran’s nuclear program

Djavad Salehi-IsfahaniBy Djavad Salehi-Isfahani

In his December 16, 2013 post on Iran Matters on the macroeconomic cost of Iran’s nuclear program, Nawaf Obaid claims that Iran’s GDP has declined by a whopping 29% in 2013 relative to 2012.  He reports data from a series published by the IMF, which is misleading and needs to be corrected. 

(Nawaf Obaid responds below)

Revolutionary Guard is cautiously open to nuclear deal

By Annie Tracy Samuel

Based on their public statements, we can ascertain that the leaders of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. (IRGC) have mixed feelings about the interim nuclear agreement concluded in Geneva on November 24 between Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, and Germany). On one hand, the Guards have given conditional approval to the deal and the negotiating processes. On the other hand, they have warned the negotiating parties that they will continue to monitor the diplomatic developments, that Iran’s sovereign rights must be respected, and that the United States has not proven itself to be trustworthy.

Anticipating objections to the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act

By Gary Samore


In the near term, the Obama administration does not yet need to engage Senators Menendez, Kirk, and Schumer on the details of their proposed Nuclear Weapon Free Act of 2013. The upcoming congressional recess and the protection of friendly senators (including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Chairman of the Senate Banking and Finance Committee Tim Johnson) are likely to delay consideration of the bill for the time being. However, congressional support for sanctions legislation against Iran has strong bipartisan support, and pressure for additional legislation is likely to grow if – as seems likely – it becomes apparent in coming months that negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran on a final agreement are not faring well. In the event that the Obama administration is forced to enter into negotiations with Congress on new sanctions legislation, the White House is likely to have several objections to the proposed Senate legislation, especially on the certification requirements to waive or suspend sanctions.

See my previous post for a summary and interpretation of the text of the sanctions bill. In this post I address the Obama administration's most likely objections.

Inside the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013

By Gary Samore


News broke yesterday that three prominent senators—Menendez (D-NJ), Kirk (R-IL), and Schumer (D-NY)—may introduce legislation this year that would impose new sanctions against Iran with a “deferred trigger.” That is, the new sanctions can be averted only if the Obama administration provides specific and difficult certifications every 30 days including that Iran is implementing the terms of the November 24 Joint Plan of Action and negotiating “in good faith” toward a final deal. Based on an advance copy of the “Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013,” I summarize the substance of the draft legislation, including both the new proposed sanctions and the complicated set of presidential certifications and notifications to waive existing sanctions and suspend the additional sanctions.  In a second post, I examine the current legislative state of play and the likely administration objections to the draft legislation.

Dec 18: "(Nearly) Optimal Differentially Private Singular Subspace Computation" (Abhradeep Guha Thakurta, Stanford University and Microsoft Research)

Title: (Nearly) Optimal Differentially Private Singular Subspace Computation
Speaker: Abhradeep Guha Thakurta, Stanford University and Microsoft Research
Time: Wednesday, December 18, 10am – 11:30am
Place: MCS137, 111 Cummington St, Boston, MA