By: Kirsten Fontenrose

What is the kernel of the issue?

The US and Iran are already at an impasse on nuclear negotiations pursuant to the JCPOA, neither willing to make the first concession.

Why is the issue important?

Until such a deal is reached, neither Iran nor the US intend to take steps toward an agreement to specifically curb the proliferation of and attacks by Iran’s proxy and missile programs, which harm and threaten US personnel, interests, and allies in the Middle East almost daily. While Iran may desire a return to a nuclear agreement to get out from under sanctions, Iranian leaders do not wish to negotiate on these violent programs and will prevent or slow-roll that discussion if allowed.

What is the recommendation?

The Biden administration should offer to take the first step and roll back nuclear-related Trump-era sanctions, as Iran asks, if Iran agrees to a clause in a new nuclear deal that snaps sanctions back if a secondary deal on proxy and missile programs is not reached a year from the rollback date. Such steps could move the US and Iran towards resolving the current impasse, achieving a nuclear deal, addressing regional partner concerns, and guaranteeing a second agreement on regional destabilization.

Related Experts: Kirsten Fontenrose