To the surprise of many analysts (us included), Iran has continued to abide by the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, despite the Trump administration’s decision last year to withdraw from it and reimpose U.S. sanctions. Tehran seems to be betting that if it can weather the economic pressure, come 2021, a new U.S. president could reverse Donald Trump’s decision and re-enter the deal. As long as this hope holds out, the deal’s backers in Tehran appear to have persuaded Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to stay in the deal for now, capitalizing on the discord between the United States and its European allies, and avoiding the larger snapback of European and United Nations sanctions that would follow if Iran were to return to its nuclear activities.
The first question a hypothetical 2020 election victor (not to mention candidates on the campaign trail) will face is whether or not the United States should re-enter the deal. The answer should be a resounding yes. The Iran nuclear deal is one of the most robust and detailed nuclear agreements ever achieved, and when the United States withdrew, the deal was working exactly as designed: Iran’s nuclear program was drastically curtailed, and the U.S. ability to detect any Iranian attempt to build a bomb—should its ambitions ever change—was significantly improved. Most importantly, Iran was adhering to the deal and continues to do so. If the United State re-enters the deal, these benefits will persist.
Read the full article in Foreign Policy.