Can revival of the nuclear deal with Iran spark a new regional security dialogue? Are Americans – and U.S. policy makers – tired of the Middle East? Decades of conflict, along with reduced U.S. dependence on its oil, and a growing imperative to turn toward ‘great power competition’ with China and Russia, have reduced the appetite to stay engaged. … Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has asserted that the Biden Administration ‘…would be doing less not more in the Middle East.’

Yet desire does not always align with the demands of the moment. And the Trump administration’s high level of engagement in the region and disruptive policies have left Biden’s team with a transformed landscape. One element of Middle East policy holds the key: the Iran nuclear agreement, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The Biden team likely will make it a priority. But how that plays out will determine if a ‘do less’ approach is achievable – or even desirable – in the coming four years.

President-elect Biden himself is up front about his intentions. He wants to return to the global nonproliferation agreement accomplished under his watch as Vice President, and restore its core formula: constraints on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for economic relief. When President Donald Trump came into office, the international consensus was that the deal was working, verified by multiple reports of international inspectors vouching for Iranian compliance.”

From “Reverse Engineering” – The Wilson Quarterly, Winter 2021 by Dalia Dassa Kaye

This carefully written comprehensive review of the issues and players concerning the Iran Nuclear Deal from which President Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States in 2018 is a must-read for anyone interested in the complexities of this matter that the Biden Administration now faces.

The author, Dalia Dassa Kaye, is a 2020-2021 Wilson Center Scholar. She was previously a Senior Political Scientist and Director of the Center for Middle East Public Policy at the RAND Corporation.

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