When President Trump came to office in 2017, he inherited from President Obama the Iran Nuclear Deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. The JCPOA was negotiated between the United States, Iran and the rest of the permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany. It offered Iran a lifting of international sanctions in return for verifiable limits on Iran’s nuclear program. The deal was signed in 2015 and shortly thereafter approved by the UN Security Council.
Of course, President Trump left this diplomatic agreement. The Trump administration embarked on a campaign of so-called “Maximum Pressure” against Iran, presumably in an effort to secure what Trump would considered a better deal. The campaign included the re-imposition of US sanctions and an effort to deter allies in Europe from doing business with Iran. Also, in January this year the United States assassinated a top Iranian military figure, Qassam Soulameni.
Even though the Trump administration is leaving office in a few weeks, it is still seeking to ratchet up pressure on Iran, despite having very little to show for this strategy. On Wednesday November 18, Trump’s Treasury Department announced yet more sanctions against Iranian linked entities.
Needless to say, the Iranians have not been swayed by this maximum pressure campaign, and indeed they have taken certain steps in breach of the JCPOA.
Such is the state of relations between the United States and Iran that Joe Biden will inherit when he takes office in January. So, to help me understand whether or not it is even possible for a Biden administration to revive the JCPOA; and what steps a Biden administration can take to get diplomacy with Iran back on track is Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute.
We kick off discussing the Trump administration’s relationship to Iran before discussing how a Biden administration may more productively approach diplomacy with Iran. If you have 20 minutes and want to learn what may be next for US diplomacy with Iran, have a listen.